Jennifer Farwell shares her reasons for writing a story about young love for teens.
Long before the character profiles are finished, an author has something important to decide about their book that will influence characters, setting, voice, and a lot about the plot. That big decision is genre.
I’ll be honest: genre was something I went back and forth on after the idea for Seven Weeks to Forever came to me. I had ideas for some of the characters and the plot at a very high level, but before I got down to details, I had to know what I really wanted to do with this story. What was the best way to tell it? When I envisioned Cassidy (the main character), was she a teenager or an adult? What shaped her into who she was at the start of the book and influenced her responses to the situation she was in? Would it be better to write her as an adult in the adult world, or was there something about this story that would make it more compelling when told through the eyes, voice, and actions of a teenager?
Before I could really begin writing a draft, I had to know. As I wrote out notes and compared teenage Cassidy’s story to adult Cassidy’s story, the decision became clear: Seven Weeks to Forever was a young adult (YA) romance. Could this book have been written as adult contemporary fiction with characters in their 30s? Probably. But the characters, the theme of love versus fear, and the main idea of why Cassidy crosses paths with Riley (her love interest in the book) are about all that would have been similar. Okay, and possibly a scene at the beach, but that’s all I’ll say on that since I don’t want to give the story away! The subplot would have been entirely different, and it’s a safe bet that Riley’s mom wouldn’t have made an appearance in the context she did.
What made YA the best choice for telling Cassidy and Riley’s story? It wasn’t that the subplot involving Cassidy’s aunt and uncle was convenient, and it wasn’t that I needed Riley’s mom to unknowingly clue Cassidy in on something big. It was that YA is about “firsts” and raw feeling that isn’t yet filtered through the experience of adulthood. It was remembering how possible it is to go from feeling like something is the absolute end of the world to then being on top of the world, sometimes in the same day. It was knowing how deeply experiences during that time of life can scar someone, and also how high a heart can soar. It was about that feeling of young love.
Even though I debated about genre at the start, I now couldn’t see Cassidy and Riley’s story any other way. Maybe it’s because I’m a romantic at heart, but I found while writing Seven Weeks to Forever that I truly love writing characters who are experiencing young love and all the raw feelings, extreme highs, extreme lows, and romantic tension that comes with it.
Cassidy Jordan knows she’ll die a few weeks after her eighteenth birthday, and she can’t wait. This is her second time here, and she knows what’s waiting for her in The Life-After — the place most mistakenly call “the afterlife.” Getting back there is supposed to be easy: she just has to find nineteen-year-old Riley Davis and help him get his life on track. But doing that isn’t easy at all.
By the time Cassidy finds Riley, she has only seven weeks to help him before her time is up. Riley will die too young if she fails, and she’ll never see The Life-After or have another chance at life again. But no one told her helping Riley would mean dating him; she hasn’t dated anyone since the love of her first life caused her death the last time she turned eighteen. And no one warned her she’d cross paths with Selena Jensen, her ex-best-friend who hasn’t forgotten why their friendship ended and is protective of Riley. Then there’s Cassidy’s family, who thinks she’s a normal girl headed to Harvard in the fall. When her aunt discovers that’s not the plan, she shows up to try and drag Cassidy from L.A. to Boston.
Helping Riley is already hard with her aunt and Selena in the way. It’s almost impossible when Cassidy realizes she’s falling for him and is faced with a choice: give Riley the life he’s meant for and leave when it’s time, or give up eternity for the true love she’s never had, knowing Riley will die the same way she did in her first life and that her entire existence could end at any time.
Jennifer Farwell has been writing since the day she picked up a navy blue Crayola as a toddler and began scribbling on her parents’ freshly painted white walls. She’s the author of Seven Weeks to Forever and Rock Star’s Girl. When not writing novels, she writes weekly horoscopes for her astrology site, Starry Kind of Girl, and previously spent a number of years as a freelance promotional writer and web designer for musicians. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Pico, and has a Bachelor of Journalism degree and a Master of Arts degree in English, both from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.