Welcome to my new guest post segment, Stories That Built Me. Each of these posts will be done by a guest (authors, booksellers, bloggers, and more?) who will talk about how different stories shaped them.
This post is from Christina June, author of It Started With Goodbye, Everywhere You Want to Be, and the upcoming No Place Like Here! I love Christina’s books and am so excited to have her here on the blog 🙂
When I was a young adult, the internet was still pretty new. These were the days of dial up connections, paying for five hours of internet use monthly, and “a/s/l” in AOL chat rooms. I was completely smitten with the idea of being able to talk to people in different parts of the country, and the world, and explore from the comfort of my mom’s office.
I’d always been a reader, coming home from the bookstore and library with stacks bigger than I could carry. When I was in middle and high school, I, like many of my suburban 90’s teen counterparts, got sucked down the twin holes of Christopher Pike books and V.C. Andrews series. I distinctly remember bringing my battered paperback copy of Flowers in the Attic on vacation, circa 1992, and keeping it close to my face so my mother couldn’t see what was on the pages. These two authors made my heart race and kept me reading into the wee hours of the night over and over again. Though neither collection of titles were anything remotely close to my life—I definitely wasn’t in love my any family members and none of my friends were plotting to murder me (that I knew of, anyway)—they magically made me feel like I was experiencing the same things the characters were.
There is something about a good book that makes you want to share it with others, so it wasn’t long before I went hunting for other readers like me. And, with the World Wide Web at my disposal, I took my search online. I stumbled across fan clubs for both V.C. Andrews and Christopher Pike and delighted in discussing my favorite characters and plot points, freaking out at upcoming releases, and even sharing short stories inspired by the books we were devouring. Though I didn’t have the word for it then, now I know these were my first fandoms. I met so many people—devoted readers and talented readers—through these forums. They were my people. I am still in close contact with two of these fantastic human beings and have had the pleasure to spend time with them in person and share my publication journey with them.
So what does this have to do with anything? Because I don’t write horror and I don’t write gothic. These fan clubs have been instrumental in my approach to story because they remind me that every book has a reader. And when your book finds its reader, they will champion it and share it with other readers. It’s easy to get discouraged as an author, when everyone else seems to have more sales or going to this convention or speaking on that panel, whatever the goalpost is. It is that first experience as a fan that keeps me grounded and whispers in my ear when I’m struggling, “your stories matter.” I strive to make characters with relatable conflicts, goals and emotions. And when a reader tells me they connected with my words? Best feeling in the world. That’s why I do this. That’s what keeps me going. Because I was once that reader. I still am. And if you’d like to talk about a book you love with me, I’ll be here, ready to flail.
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.
Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.
Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, was released in May 2017, and a companion, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, released in 2018. NO PLACE LIKE HERE hits shelves May 21, 2019.
No Place Like Here:
A modern take on Hansel & Gretl
Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.