Wednesday, May 1, 2019

{Blog Tour} LAST THINGS by Jacqueline West—Author Interview + Giveaway

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Last Things
by Jacqueline West


When strange things start happening to local music idol Anders Thorson, everyone blames his number-one-fan, Thea. But is she out to hurt him? Or protect him?

High school senior Anders Thorson is unusually gifted. His band, Last Things, is legendary in their northern Minnesota hometown. With guitar skills that would amaze even if he weren’t only eighteen, Anders is the focus of head-turning admiration. And Thea Malcom, a newcomer to the insular town, is one of his admirers. Thea seems to turn up everywhere Anders goes: gigs at the local coffeehouse, guitar lessons, even in the woods near Anders’s home. When strange things start happening to Anders—including the disappearance of his beloved cat, then his sort-of girlfriend, and, somehow, his musical talent—blame immediately falls on Thea. But is she trying to hurt him? Or save him? Can he trust a girl who doesn’t seem to know the difference between dreams and reality? And how much are they both willing to compromise to get what they want?
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Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow
• Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&NTBD / IndieBound

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with Jacqueline West


LM: What inspired you to write Last Things?

Jacqueline: In a nutshell, Last Things is my modern-day, Minnesotan, metal retelling of the legend of the musician who might have sold his soul to the devil. But the idea for the retelling hit me in a funny way.
I lead a lot of workshops for young writers, and one of my workshops involves picking a random image out of a box to serve as inspiration for a fictional character. One day several years ago, when I was working with a bunch of elementary students, a boy picked an image of a teenager holding an electric guitar and screaming into a microphone out of the box. The boy got stuck when trying to come up with potential weaknesses or problems for his character, so I was brainstorming with him, asking him prompting questions. Is there someone in his family who wants him to quit playing the guitar? Does he get stage fright? Or is it something strange, like…is there a devil that follows him everywhere he goes? The boy’s eyes widened. “Yeah,” he said. “That one.”
And so did I.
After the school day was over, I hurried out to my car and scribbled page after page of notes for a potential story. Another couple of years passed before I found the voices of my two main characters and really dug into the writing, but that’s where it all began.

LM: Tell us a little bit about the main character—Anders—who is he?

Jacqueline:  There are actually two main characters, Anders and Thea, and they tell the story in alternating chapters. Their perspectives and their voices are very different…but Thea is definitely the more mysterious one, so I’ll leave her that way for now and focus on Anders. 😊
            Anders Thorson is a musical prodigy. He’s a high school senior who lives in a small, broke town in northern Minnesota, but his band—Last Things—is on the verge of full-blown fame. Anders is the vocalist, lead guitarist, and songwriter for the group, and he knows that he’s standing on the edge of gigantic success.
            The trouble is that Anders isn’t sure his success is earned. The songs he writes come to him in disorienting flashes of inspiration, his musical talent keeps increasing exponentially, and it all seems to stem from a chat he had with a stranger in the dark forest outside of town a few years ago.
            Of course, nobody understands Anders’s feelings about all of this. At the same time, he’s dealing with friction within his band, a flirtation with a gorgeous girl who might like him for the wrong reasons, and a stalker who follows him everywhere, even to his bedroom window.

LM: Share a fun fact about this book with us!

Jacqueline: I wanted to call this book Unspeakable Gifts. I totally understand why my publisher didn’t go for it, but it comes from the Bible (“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gifts,” which is a line one of the characters quotes to another) and I thought it suited the themes and secrets and the eerie supernatural elements of the story delightfully.

LM: If this book had a theme song, what would it be?

Jacqueline: Oh boy. This book is crammed with songs. Lyrics to many of Last Things’ songs are quoted or included entirely. The most important ones are “Falling Star,” “Superhero,” and “Devil’s Due.” Now, if a metal band like In Flames would just write and perform the music to one or all of them, everything would be perfect.  


LM: Can you share one of your favorite quotes or scenes from Last Things

Jacqueline:  Sure! This is from the end of the first chapter. A Last Things show has just ended, and Thea is standing in the dark parking lot outside of the Crow’s Nest, watching Anders and the rest of the band pack up.


Anders finally looks in my direction. His face stays absolutely still. But his eyes meet mine for long enough that it’s almost like a greeting. This is as much as I can ask for. I have to keep hidden everywhere else. But at the Crow’s Nest, I’m just another fan. Another follower. Here, he thinks he’s safe. Anders turns back to the car, closes the trunk. He murmurs something to Jezz and Patrick. They all laugh.
He doesn’t give me another glance. 
They climb into their cars, Jezz and Patrick into the truck, heading toward the east side of town, Jezz’s house, Patrick’s place, and Anders heading toward his house, not far away, here on the northwest, near the woods.
I wait until their taillights have winked out in the distance, down the cracked asphalt of the road.
I get my bicycle. I take the path straight through the woods. The trees lean back as I pass. They whisper and hiss. They know what I am. They know what I know.
My own house isn’t far away, on a mossy dead-end road deep in the oaks and pines. I’ll pass Anders’s house first. Take one more look. Make sure he’s inside. Watch his windows. Wait until he shuts off the lights. Maybe.
Maybe I’ll wait even longer than that. Maybe I’ll watch all night. 


LM: Tell us what you enjoy doing when you aren't writing!

Jacqueline: It probably won’t be a surprise to hear that I love music. I go to concerts when I can, I play the piano (just not in front of other people), and I have a degree in voice performance, so sometimes you can catch me doing local shows.
            I love wandering: around bookstores, thrift shops, old cemeteries, unfamiliar towns.

            I’m also a pretty serious cookie baker. I wouldn’t make it on the Great British Bake Off or anything, but I frost a mean sugar cookie. 

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Jacqueline West is the author of the NYT-bestselling middle grade series The Books of Elsewhere, the YA novel Dreamers Often Lie, and the new middle grade fantasy The Collectors.

She is also the author of two poetry collections, Cherma and Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions, and her poetry and short fiction appear in a variety of publications.

She lives in Red Wing, Minnesota, with her family.





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Huge thanks to Jacqueline for answering my questions today!

Readers, please continue on for giveaway details! ~


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy Reading!

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