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)