The wonderful Jennifer Banash is back today with a guest blog! Don't forget to enter the contest. If you comment on this post, you get one extra entry into the contest!
When I first started writing THE ELITE, I found myself relating really strongly to the relationship between Casey and Drew. Although they really like each other and want to work it out, they seem incapable of communicating effectively most of the time, and, as a result, are constantly misinterpreting each other’s actions. I spent most of my high school years in weird, quasi-relationships like these, and often had crushes on people who were not only completely unattainable, but who, even if I had gotten to date them, would’ve been a total disaster for me (what can I say? I’m clearly addicted to the drama!).
And then there was Danny.
Danny was my best friend Kristi’s boyfriend. He was tall and athletic, and had perfect glossy hair the color of a chocolate bar that dipped over his eyes. In my freshman year of high school, I watched the two of them hold hands, smile, and fake wrestle on the floor in Kristi’s room with a bizarre fascination. They were both beautiful and clearly crazy about each other. When I watched the two of them together, I couldn’t fathom that anyone would ever look at me the way Danny looked at Kristi. She was tall, blond, and rail thin, with a slightly crooked smile that only made her that much more perfect in my opinion. In contrast, I was small, dark, and quiet. Much like Casey, I was really unsure of myself. I was always checking mirrors, not to admire myself, but mostly to make sure I was still there.
One weekend my parents went out of town, and I decided to throw an enormous party—a party that ended up stretching on for the better part of two days. My house was full of people I didn’t really know, and the bodies of sleeping, passed out kids covered every available surface after ten hours or so. Somewhere around dawn of day two, I climbed into my bed, shutting the door behind me, completely exhausted. When I woke next, it was to the feel of an unfamiliar body sliding into bed with me. I rolled over and Danny was there, grinning his perfect bad boy grin, his hair flopping into his eyes as usual. He stopped smiling suddenly, leaned over, and kissed me. It wasn’t my first kiss by a long shot, but it definitely felt like it. I don’t know why I let him kiss me. Maybe it was because I’d had a crush on him for ages. Or maybe it was just that I wanted to see what it would be like to be Kristi, even if it was just for one moment in the early morning light.
Maybe this story is part of the reason I related so strongly to the character of Phoebe Reynaud when I was writing IN TOO DEEP. Although Phoebe knows that dating her best friend’s brother behind her back is a terrible idea, she can’t seem to help herself. As a result, she spends most of the book wracked with unnecessary guilt. As I wrote, I found myself sympathizing with Phoebe’s predicament. Phoebe really WANTS to do the right thing, but she’d just not sure what that IS anymore. She has the best intentions, but intentions, as most of us know, don’t count for anything—it’s what you DO that ultimately matters.
As an interesting postscript, I confessed the kiss to Kristi some months later. But instead of the verbal lashing I had been guiltily anticipating, she smiled and rolled her eyes. “Who,” she said with a smirk, and a raised brow “HASN”T kissed Danny?”