Guest Post by Stephanie Lawton: “What a snob!”—How I got the idea for Want #WANT_SLawton #YA
It was our first Mardi Gras since moving to the Deep South from Ohio, and I was in the midst of an epic case of culture shock. I couldn’t understand why-oh-why the wives of the parading mystic society members wore hats, heels, pearls and fur coats to a parade. It was seventy degrees outside!
We’d been to a number of parades and had a great time mingling with other average Mobilians, but on this day, one of the older, more prestigious societies was rolling. Usually the wives sit in the grandstands provided for them. We ended up next to a group who chose to watch from the street, for whatever reason.
Our kids were quite young—our daughter was one and our son was four—and very cute, which means they got a crap-ton of stuffed animals and other throws tossed their way. When we got too much stuff, we made sure to share with the other people around us. It’s an unwritten rule in Mobile that you take care of the kids near you so everyone has a good time.
The fur-coated ladies next to us had apparently not gotten the memo. They hogged all the throws and when one suggested they share, I overheard the other tell her, “No way!”
Now, what on earth does a wealthy, middle-aged woman need with several pounds of beads and trinkets that are clearly meant for children? She was so rude that I took a picture of her from the back so I could remember that moment.
She stayed with me and I began to ask myself questions: How insecure is she that she flaunts her fur coat in tank-top weather? How bitter must you be to refuse to share with a bunch of little kids? What secrets is she hiding under that coat and big hair? What is her husband like? Her poor children?
And this is where my character Julianne was born. Her mother is so preoccupied with keeping up appearances that she can’t see how dysfunctional she is and that she’s transferring it to her children, especially her gifted seventeen-year-old daughter. Add in a father who’s unplugged, a brother who’s left the nest for college, and a mentor/grandfather-type whose sudden illness turns Julianne’s world upside down, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster … or a YA book.
Back of the Book: Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her.
She can’t understand why he suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it. Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball-the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite-forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.
Will Julianne accept the help she’s offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her?