Author Paige Harbison stops by to give her inspiration behind Anything to Have You, her latest young adult novel, as well as answer questions on many of our minds. Check out the guest post below:
Release date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.
In my book, Anything to Have You, a main character ends up in a situation that happens in the teen world and beyond. She drinks too much, and ends up blacking out with only the awareness that she had sex with somebody. Was it her best friend’s boyfriend, Aiden, whom she has pined over for years? No, surely not. Was it the hot guy everyone else has pined over for years, who has a recent crush on her? Some of her last memories of the night before were of making out with the hot, popular guy, but she woke up on the other side of a king-sized bed from Aiden.
I have been asked why, in this story, it was not treated or dealt with as rape or date rape. This is a very sensitive subject, and one that requires the toeing of a very thin line. I feel like I can only answer this with the candor of someone who recently graduated college and has moved on from the life in which this sort of situation was likely to arise.
It doesn’t happen to everyone, but for a lot of teenagers (into and through college, sometimes beyond) there is a new era that didn’t necessarily used to exist. Once upon a time, it was the norm to go from being a kid, to a teenager, to a little older before finally being settled and onto creating that trajectory for your own kids. But for a hugely increasing number of people, now there’s a whole other chapter of life tossed in.
Sometimes it starts in high school, sometimes in college, and more infrequently, after. As sad and worrisome as it is, it is not unusual to drink to the point of blacking out often. It is not a once-in-a-blue-moon experience to wake up with a hangover. For people who exist in this lifestyle, blacking out, hooking up, hangovers, bender-weekends, etc., are all part of a general way of life. It’s not okay. But it’s true. I went to three high schools, three colleges, and have bartended for years. In all of these environments, I was highly social.
So in Anything to Have You, I included this. I have in all three of my books so far. Some reviewers have called it over the top or exaggerative, but I can say with absolute certainty that it is not. If anything, I shy away from some of the harsh realities like drugs, because I do in real life, and thusly cannot speak honestly on them.
With situations as sensitive and controversial as rape, it is extremely difficult to say anything at all. It is a serious subject, and one that not only concerns but also frightens me as a young woman. I do not toss aside the seriousness of the subject. But I make a very real attempt, in life and in my fiction, to only use such strong words and accusations when they are the right words to describe what is happening. Though rape and date rape are not black and white scenarios, and have a lot of grey area, I do not wish for the scenario with Natalie to fall into it.
In my book, no one was raped. That was not the point of the story. If I wanted to write about Natalie waking up terrified and feeling vulnerable and invaded, then I would have written a book about that. Anything to Have You wasn’t about that, and it would be an insult to the real victims of rape and date rape to even bring up the subject in my book.
Natalie had a crush on one guy, and a painful, messed-up desire for another, and questioned which actions she had made that she blocked out. When it is revealed, she is not shocked. She was in denial of her own actions. Again, the book is not about her being taken advantage of by someone who saw the altered state she was in and chose to use her. The story is about two people who made the foolish decision to intoxicate themselves beyond good judgment, and who both made a mistake. It is acknowledged in my book that the guy had no idea how impaired she was. No, it’s not okay. Each party should have been more responsible, but neither was, because that’s life, and it happens.
The lifestyle that allows for this sort of impairment on a regular basis is a serious issue in itself, but it is not necessarily or entirely entwined with the subject of rape and/or date rape. If I wanted to address something in my book, it is the fact that getting messed up to the point of not knowing which mistake you made is a very real problem. And that sometimes, sucks as it does, you cannot blame anyone but yourself for what happened because of your actions. Natalie did not get too drunk and then point the finger. Because though often blame can be dealt externally, sometimes the hardest thing to admit is that you are the one who made the mistake. There is no one to blame but yourself.
That is the point that I wish to push in Anything to Have You. That sometimes you mess up, and you have to accept responsibility.