Andrea & the Five Day Challenge originally started as a short story I’d titled Homecoming Madness. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was going to be longer than a short story. In fact, before I knew it I had a novel on my hands. And then a series. So when I went to write up a final title for the book, I came up with Andrea and the Five Day Challenge because this challenge from church is what’s really the driving force of the story as she writes in her prayer journal to God each day. And that is a plotline that will continue in all the books. The girls will all be given a prayer journal and they too will write prayers to God. I like to think of the prayer journals like the pants in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book series except in this case it is a prayer journal. I also knew this was going to be a series so I wanted the names to be similar. So for example, book two is titled: Amy & the Trouble With Fathers.
Cool! I like how you tied the series together with similar titles. But what about the hero and heroine? What makes them likeable?
Andrea considers herself to be the least interesting of her group of friends. She isn’t smart like Amy or artistic like Angie or beautiful and popular like Alisha. She sees herself as that girl with the plain brown hair, size nine feet, and who doesn’t participate much in school activities. She’s a lot like most kids. I think the average teen can relate to her. Except she does have this exceptional talent she likes to downplay. She’s actually a wonderful pianist and her parents have all these designs to get her into a performing arts school so she can one day end up at a place like Julliard. In addition to that, Andrea has a sweet, caring spirit and this is something that Luke, our hero, notices right away. It sets her apart from every other girl at school in his eyes.
Then we have Luke, cute transfer student from California. Luke might be an all-star varsity baseball player, but he’s not like the rest of the A-list kids. He’s very down to earth and not looking for what’s popular and cool. He’s had to mature quickly. His family life is not the greatest. They’ve experienced a personal tragedy, and that’s part of the reason why he latches on to Andrea early on. He sees something in her that every one else seems to miss. She has value and when they get together they just kind of have that spark.
Nice! How much about this book is realistic?
I tried very hard to make this a realistic teen book. Because this is written in first person from Andrea’s perspective, I was able to let her go a little melodramatic in her thoughts. And there were times I wondered after the first draft, if she was a little over the top in her emotions. And then I went back to work teaching teenagers. And then I was like—Nope. Nailed it! In fact, the part of the book at the very beginning is actually somewhat based on one of my personal experiences in high school when my friends wanted me to ask out a certain guy to homecoming. I latched on to those embarrassed feelings and used them in those first few chapters as a similar event unfolds for my heroine.
Hey, we raised two teenagers. I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much drama. lol. What makes this book special to you?
The characters make this book so special to me. I wrote the original draft of this book about 5-6 years ago and I let it just sit for years. So these characters have been ruminating inside my head for a long time. I feel like I know these girls personally. All four of them came to me very distinct and fleshed out from the beginning. Their individual stories came to me in the writing so there are little hints in this first book about each girl’s history and the issues they have going on in the present which I don’t completely address in the first book. I don’t think it was done in a way that leaves open plot threads but when you go on to read the other books readers will have hopefully picked up on these things. I delve deeper into these topics as each girl gets her own novel.