Spotlight Wednesday: BUT I LOVE HIM by Amanda Grace

The theme of our past couple of posts has been relationships - specifically ones that go sour, and when it's time to call it quits. In a way, that's a big theme of today's featured book, BUT I LOVE HIM, by Amanda Grace (aka the awesome Mandy Hubbard). In BUT I LOVE HIM, the relationship isn't just sour, it's abusive. And Amanda/Mandy wrote it chronologically backwards because she wanted readers to question just *when* a girl should leave a relationship like that.

I remember when Mandy, who's a good friend, first mentioned this project. She said she was intrigued by the judgment that people tend to put on abused girls and women: "Why doesn't she just leave him?" people ask. "I would have left a long time ago." But when you're actually *in* a relationship like that, it can be hard to know when to say when. I remember Mandy saying she felt like writing the story backward could help people better see how a relationship could develop when neither party knows the outcome. (If that makes any sense - for a writer, I can be a pretty terrible paraphraser.).

Anyway, here's the plot description, from Goodreads:

"At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved — and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything — and everyone — in its path.

This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong."

And here's the trailer.

Kirkus called BUT I LOVE HIM “A disturbing reverse chronology of a love gone horribly wrong… Powerful and Compulsively readable.”

I asked Amanda/Mandy a few questions, and here's what she had to say about the book:

What made you want to tackle the subject of abusive relationships?

I experienced a relationship at 17 which was *NOT* physically abusive, but which was pretty unhealthy. It was only years later that I saw a "Signs of an Abuser" poster and actually came to understand who he really was. After that I read every teen novel I could get my hands on that dealt with the subject, but I didn't feel like they portrayed it the way I would have.

The book has such a unique structure. Tell us how and why you decided to write the story backwards.

I was chatting with my critique partner, Cyn Balog, about how I wanted to write a story that had been done many times before, and I needed it to be different in some fundamental way. She actually suggested the backwards chronology. Within the hour I had written the first chapter, and by two weeks, the rough draft was done. I wrote it backwards becuse I wanted to disconnect readers from time, and the ability to decide when they would have left the abuser.

Did you do any research on abuse, especially in teen relationships?

Not specifically for the book-- I did spend years reading every YA novel on the subject I could. In the end, I just wrote it from an emotional place I'd once been, creating characters and a world around that.

Amanda Grace is a pen name. Is your real identity a secret? If so, I won't spill the beans. If I can reveal who you are, could you let us know why you chose a different name?

No, it's not a secret-- I usually go by Mandy Hubbard (Author of Prada & Prejudice and You Wish). I chose the name because BUT I LOVE HIM Is a major departure for me, and my original publisher wanted to keep the Mandy Hubbard brand consistent.
Will we be seeing any more books by Amanda Grace?

Yes! 2012 Brings IN TOO DEEP, another dark book about a lie spun horribly out of control.


Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

Great interview! I've been looking forward to reading this back when I saw Mandy talk about it on her blog. I think it's a really unique way how the book is going to be told out.

Claire Dawn said...

Oh, I love Mandy Hubbard's books. Even though this is different, I can't wait to get my hands on it. I too was once in an abusive relationship, but the guy somehow stayed in the grey zone, never actually hitting me. It's hard without empirical proof to figure out if you have enough reason to walk.

Thanks Mandy!

Pam Harris said...

Wow, this book sounds amazing. I'll definitely be checking it out.

Micol Ostow said...

Thanks for the post - I'm definitely going to have to check this one out!

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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