About the Book:
The Next Breath, 313 pages
I kiss him, choosing love over honesty, which is a choice nobody should ever have to make…"
Robin loves sweet, responsible Nick, with his penchant for Beethoven and Ben Folds Five. But she also still loves her college boyfriend Jed, an irreverent playwright plagued with cystic fibrosis. Now Robin is struggling to reveal her secrets and confront her past, as she finally performs in the play that Jed wrote for her, eleven years ago. Will Robin have the strength to keep her promise and stay true to her heart?
Alternating between present-day scenes, college flashbacks, and segments from Jed’s play, this tear-jerking yet uplifting tale illustrates how life is finite but love is infinite, and the road to recovery begins with the next breath.
About the Author:Laurel Osterkamp becomes very attached to her characters, and it’s hard for her to stop writing about them. The Holdout, November Surprise, Blue State, Campaign Promises, American Angst and The Next Breath all feature the Bricker family, as their stories continue. (But you can read any of these books in any order.) You can find Laurel on Twitter but she needs to work on sending clever Tweets. A better idea is to follow her blog at www.laurelosterkamp.blogspot.com. Laurel teaches in Minneapolis, MN, where she tries to stay warm, spend time with her two nearly perfect children and husband, and find the time to write. Her other novels are Following My Toes and Starring in the Movie of My Life. Visit her at www.laurelosterkamp.com.
The Story of How I Didn’t Write The Fault in Our Stars
So yeah, I read The Fault in Our Stars, and I loved it. I laughed, I cried, and I asked myself over and over, “How can I write a book this good?” Of course, this question led to an unfortunate answer. I am not John Green, and thus do not have his sense of humor, his philosophy of life, his life experience, nor his unique perspective. So I can’t write a book like he wrote, but I decided I could write a book about life, loss, and love, only through my own personal lens.
I believe that being alive qualifies me to write a book about life, and I’m in love with my husband and my children, so that area is covered too. But loss? I’ve actually been pretty lucky. Of course, there have been tough times and depressing periods, when it seemed there was no way past whatever obstacle I faced. I can also remember being a teenager, having that raw feeling of wanting everything, all at once. I believed nothing was impossible and my number one fear was that my “real life” would never begin. I recalled that while I wrote The Next Breath, and I pictured being young but knowing my days were numbered. I imagined falling in love for the first time, with a beautiful boy who had lungs that failed him.
Robin, my main character in The Next Breath is very healthy and exceedingly strong. Her strength is both her biggest burden and her greatest asset. She doesn’t always realize this as she loves and stays with Jed, who is sick. Years later, Robin must use her strength as she finally confronts the demons that came with losing him.
But there are lots of novels with characters like Robin, right? So I asked myself, “How do I make this story unique?” First, I decided to use humor whenever I could. Jed reminds Robin that “Comedy is tragedy, plus timing,” and I couldn’t agree more. Whether she’s going for her morning run, competing with her siblings in a one-armed game of pool, getting breakup hair, or simply ruminating on her life, Robin is always finding humor in her situation.
Another way I decided to make The Next Breath unique was by drawing from my own experiences. I majored in theater in college, and I spent years acting and performing. It was fun to remember that time of my life, but writing “Jed’s” play was tough; it had to be profound, emotional, and well-written. It had to be a satisfying way to complete Robin’s character arc. Oh, and it had to make sense. But I knew if I could achieve all that, I would have written a book like no other. It would be a book that I could be proud was uniquely my own.
Finally, I did a lot of research. Jed had cystic fibrosis. I wanted to describe his disease accurately, so I read a lot of personal accounts of what it’s like to have CF. Eva Markvoort’s blog, 65_Red Roses, was especially compelling and descriptive. She was so tough, honest, and loving. She was committed to living life fully, for however long she had. And, she was generous enough to describe her life so vividly, that I, along with many others, felt like I knew her just by reading her blog.
I tried to give Jed some of her fortitude, wisdom, and kindness. I felt like a better person for having “known” Eva Markvoort through her writing, and I aimed to make Robin a better person for having known Jed.
So that’s the story of how I didn’t write The Fault is in Our Stars, but how I did grow and learn while I wrote The Next Breath. And that, if nothing else, makes me happy.
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Ends December 3rd, 2014