Friday, January 20, 2012

First Love

By Jordan Dane

I’d like you to meet Abbey Chandler from ON A DARK WING. By getting to know my character, perhaps you’ll get a glimpse of me. I’m her shadow. Authors often share bits and pieces of their life’s experiences with the character they create. One of the big personal inspirations I shared with Abbey in her book was my first love.

Hal was the name of my first major crush. Tall and lanky, he was shy and had a quirky smile and tousled dark wavy hair. Totally cute. He played drums in my brother’s garage band and drove a yellow VW bug. The boy banged on drums, but his sweet quiet nature drew me to him. Like my character Abbey did with one perfect guy, I watched Hal from a distance and was too shy to talk to him much. Yeah, he hung out at my house for band practices, but I was too young to do more than ogle him. He stole my heart in a big way and took a piece of it when he left. I have never forgotten him.

More on Hal later.

In my latest book with Harlequin Teen—ON A DARK WING—Abbey falls totally in love with Nate Holden. Who wouldn’t? He’s a great guy. Nate is hot with an amazing body, smart, and popular. He dates likeable real girls, not cardboard cutouts, and volunteers as a mountain rescue guy in Alaska, sacrificing his life to save others.

Here is Nate in Abbey’s words:

“At that moment, I had two really good reasons to forget how much my life sucked and Taco Thursday paled in comparison to the reason standing next to me. Nate Holden stood talking to his buddy, Josh Poole. His deep voice tingled in my ear and made my belly twist into a major knot, the kind of thing that felt terrible and amazing at the same time.

Even with his back to me, every side of Nate Holden was excellent. I loved how his dark hair curled at his collar and he always smelled good, but with a full frontal, his hypnotic blue eyes made me forget to breathe. Whenever he talked, his lips could mesmerize me for hours. Being next to him felt like getting sucker punched—and liking it. He’d always be out of my league, an unreachable boy from an alternative universe who came to me in my sleep and tortured me. Sweet torture.

Nate Holden had been a constant reminder of how messed up I was. He was the complete opposite of me, someone I had no business even wanting. We had absolutely nothing in common. Brownie points for him. But that didn’t stop me from practically stalking him. Deduct said brownie points. I played scenarios in my head, where he needed me as much as I wanted him. How sick was that? That would never happen. My fantasies were the only way I’d ever get close to someone like him.”

~Abbey Chandler – ON A DARK WING

But of course with every book there is conflict. ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen – Jan 2012) is a coming of age story for a girl who is lucky to be alive after she survives a car accident five years earlier where her mother was killed. She crossed paths with Death once and lived past her expiration date, yet she can’t move on with her life because she carries the burden of guilt over her part in the accident. That tragedy marks her. Tanner Lange looks out for her from a distance, the only way he thinks she’ll accept him—as her best friend. Being a boy in a wheelchair, he doesn’t feel he has much to offer her except his unflinching loyalty, the same loyalty she had always shown him after he was paralyzed. Tanner sees the major crush Abbey has on the perfect boy—a great guy who doesn’t even know she exists—Nate Holden. But Death has a reason for finding Abbey again. When she crosses paths with Death again, she’ll learn what love and loyalty truly are.

To share more about me and an inspiration behind this book, I finally need to talk about Hal, my first crush who had his own link with Death. Hal was killed by a drunk driver while he drove his little yellow VW. I can still see his cute face in my mind. I clipped out his death notice from the newspaper and for years I kept it in a special secret box of “his” things. I never told anyone how I felt about it. That was too personal. I never got to see Hal grow into a man. He’ll forever be that cute boy with a crooked grin, tooling around in his yellow bug. A first crush is special because it’s the first. It’s intense and none that come after will be quite the same, even if you find THE ONE.

But not every first crush story turned out sad like mine, so I’d like to hear from you. I want DEETS, people! You don’t have to share full names, but I’d love to hear about your first crush. Was it someone you knew or a famous celebrity? How did you stalk him or her? What things did they do that you still think about? Spill it!

"Dane's well-developed characters provide an authentic exploration of guilt, loyalty, and belonging."
~Publishers Weekly for IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (Harlequin Teen, Apr 2011)


Anita Grace Howard said...

Awww, SWOON. This post is awesome! And dang, girl, you sure nailed those "first time to be twitterpated" physical reactions. :)

I'm so sorry about Hal.

My first crush was my brother's best friend, too. We ended up moving away, but I can to this day remember his goofy personality and cute smile. Those are the things that drew me to him.

Jordan Dane said...

Thanks, Anita. Hal has always stayed with me, even though he never knew how I felt. No one really did. I was devastated after he died. Suffered in silence, keeping a box of memories from him.

Sometimes writing YA helps me explore things I didnt back then. Kind of cool, but can sting too.

Thanks for sharing yours too. He sounds adorable. The little things you found special in him probably stuck with you. Exploring the attraction, and our reaction to it, helps formulate our judgment in the future, I think.

Almost forgot I was blogging today. Am on deadline and haven't been coming up for air much.


Adrienne said...

Hi, Jordan! Wow, that excerpt takes me back. My first heavy-duty crush was a photography student in my class. We were both on our second year of photography, but we were in the photo 1 class because of scheduling. So we usually had the darkroom to ourselves. He would look over my shoulder when I worked on the enlarger, we would work on projects together, and he had the cutest southern accent. I was a year ahead of him, so I graduated, went to college, and we lost touch.

Jordan Dane said...

Ha! Adrienne--I got chills just reading your line "he would look over my shoulder." OMG! That close proximity would drive anyone nuts. Him too, probably. Fun stuff. Thanks for that visual.

Jennifer Archer said...

Love this post, Jordan! Sad and heart-felt and so cool that you were able to turn to Hal's memory as you wrote your wonderful book. My first serious crush was in junior high. A guy named Terry. He had a girlfriend and my heart broke whenever I saw them together. He never knew it. I even deemed a song "our song," and I listened to it constantly and wallowed in melodramatic angst.

Jordan Dane said...

Jenny--You've captured first love exactly right--and with such honesty. It's often from a distance and generally doesn't end well, as far as having a future. It's more of a rite of passage into adulthood.

When you write a first person narrative (from inside the head of a young girl going through it), it can sound borderline stalkerish, but that's what first crushes can be for many kids, if they're honest.

Have a great weekend. *hug*

Jordan Dane said...

We gotta hear from our guys on this one. Brett, Dan, Chris--got any guy stories?

Chris Grabenstein said...

I vaguely remember meeting her in a dark room and peering over her shoulder, hoping something would develop. At the time, I had a very cute southern accent. Don't know whatever happened to that girl...she was a year older than me...

Jordan Dane said...

Chris--You are a BIG chicken. A very funny big chicken, but poultry nonetheless.

Thanks for the laugh, buddy.

Dan Haring said...

Well...I didn't really actually date anyone in high school. Just had a series of crushes. Actually my main crushes were from 2nd-7th grade, then 8th-9th, then 10th-12th. I became super good friends with each of those three girls, and even (yikes) kissed one. But things never progressed beyond that.

The last girl was probably the toughest. I was soooo smitten with her. I wrote so many emo poems about her. Sheesh. Her friends all said she liked me. I took her to homecoming and we kissed once as I dropped her off. Then Monday morning came and she acted as if nothing happened. A year more of super emo poems followed, but I never got closer to her than that one night. But seeing as how all three crushes and myself are happily married with kids, I think it worked out all right :)

Jordan Dane said...

Emo poems. I had a guy in 8th grade who wrote me poems. He was also my first kiss on an unofficial date, a school outing in 8th grade that the boys & girls paired up for.

My mom & dad didnt allow me to date until I was 16, but a nice senior boy asked me out when I was still 15 & my parents okayed it.

Interesting that you didnt date in HS, Dan. More common these days, I think. And great that you became good friends with your crushes. Not so common, but sweet. Thanks for sharing your story. And yes, I think everything worked out for the best.

Jennifer Archer said...

Jordan, I think it's less common for kids to really date now then when we were young. At least by my definition of a "date." My kids had few dates in high school. They did more of a group thing. The same is true in college. Unless it is a serious relationship, they get together in groups to go out. And if it is more serious (in college) there seems to be less going out and more staying in. :)

Jordan Dane said...

Thanks for your comment, Jenny.

I've noticed that too in my nieces & nephews. Thought it was a bit strange. As a society, we spend more time online & texting, rather than having real face to face contact or even talking on the phone. When I visited the CIA & the FBI in DC, the speakers talked about how hard it is to find young agents who have real street smarts & ability to talk on the fly. They also can't read body language well. Very strange.

Dan Haring said...

I went on dates and to dances and such, but I didn't have a serious girlfriend. The kids in my family also weren't allowed to date or go on dates until 16. Also, there was a proximity issue. 6 smaller towns and one larger one comprised my high school, and I lived in one of the smaller towns, about 20 minutes from the main town. Made dating a bit harder.

That's really interesting about the CIA and FBI. Unfortunately it totally makes sense.