by Patrick Jones
GENRE: Young adult fiction
Johanna and Paul have a passionate, yet volatile relationship. Shy Johanna knows no amount of passion can wipe out the verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. She finds the courage to walk away to have her own future.
Bret is a social outcast, but an intense relationship with Kylee makes him believe that dreams can come true. Bret's world crashes down when Kylee cheats with one of Bret's friends leading to a disastrous prom night confrontation.
Bret and Johanna, home from their first year of college, meet and find an instant attraction. Their chemistry is undeniable, but shadows from the past threaten the present when Paul re-enter Johanna's life and Bret's home life turns upside down. Can two broken-hearted people break the grip of the past and find happiness?
“Johanna, it’s Paul.”
I earned an A in AP Physics as a high school senior, so I know time can’t stand still, but hearing Paul’s voice again makes me question that. It makes me question everything.
“Johanna, it’s Paul,” he repeats.”
This is the phone call I’ve been dreading; this is the call I’ve been craving. In an instant, I am thrust from a successful, first-year Columbia University student back to my insecure Pontiac, Michigan, high school self. All it took was this voice from my past.
“Hello. You remember me, right?” he says, then laughs. It is a sound I have missed.
I know his laugh is quicksand, but I can’t resist.
“Paul, of course I remember you. I’m just surprised to hear from you, that’s all.”
“It’s been a while, Joha, hasn’t it?” I tingle at the use of his nickname for me.
“Yes, you could say that,” I say, instead of the real answer, which is, ‘No, Paul it’s not been a while. It’s been over two years since we talked.’ Other than visiting me at my high school graduation open house, mainly to show off his new girlfriend, Sarah, Paul had been out of my life. No calls, no texts, no messages. The past was in the past, but now things had changed.
About the Author:
From Flint MI but now residing in Minneapolis MN, Jones is the author of over fifty novels for teens. His working with teens in correctional facilities and alternative schools has informed his works such as the Unbarred and The Alternative series. While he published his book in 1992 and this first novel in 2004, his initial publication was for a professional wrestling magazine when he was only eight years old.
Q&A With the Author
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Just writing again. I took a break for personal and professional reasons from writing starting in 2016 that lasted until 2020 when I needed something to get me out of my COVID fear and funk. I was pleased that I still knew how to tell a story, develop characters, and explore a theme. It felt great to be back on my laptop turning the images in my head into something on the page. I would write in mad rushes of three to four hours at a time. I think I got the first rough draft of Things Changed done in a month, but then it took a long time to get the book where I wanted it to be, in particular in exploring the main theme of the book which is how the pain caused from the ending of a first love relationship shadows the ones that come after.
Since this is a rare dual sequel, I got to revisit characters from two books (Things Change and Nailed) which was enjoyable. When I reread the two books, I was struck by how similar in some ways Johanna from Things Change and Bret from Nailed were deep down even though they have very little in common save growing up in Michigan during hard times. So, to take these two characters from two different books and put them together was a lot of fun.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
Hurricane Misty is another teen realistic novel which, like Things Changed, is told from two points of view: Misty and her cousin Rachel. Misty has Borderline Personality Disorder which leads to self-destructive and impulsive behavior among other things. As the book starts, Misty has brought her chaos – her hurricane personality – into the house of her cousin Rachel, a straight up AP honor class band geek who could not be more different than Misty. Rachel finds herself drawn to Misty despite their obvious differences (do you see a theme here?) and makes it her mission to try to save Misty from her worst self. At the same time, Rachel finds Misty is a positive influence in her trying to break away from her controlling mother and parental expectations. While cousins, they barely knew each other before Misty moved into Rachel’s house so it is at its core a story of two friends trying to help each other become better people.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
Cassandra’s Fate is a supernatural thriller that is third book featuring the character of Cassandra Grey who is not human, nor a monster. She is a tear collector. Cassandra’s kind draws their life force from tears. In order for her to survive, people around her must suffer. And there is no better place to collect tears than a big suburban high school like she attends. In this story, a very real monster – a serial killer – is killing off students at her school. While this causes mass sorrow which Cassandra thrives off of, she also fears for her life. The book is done save needing a last proofing before shopping it.
How long have you been writing?
Like most writers you have hosted, I can tell the familiar story of how I’ve been writing stories since I can remember, which is true. What is probably not true for others is that I started getting published / paid to write at age eight and even more amazing was what I writing. I was the Michigan correspondent for a New York based magazine covering professional wrestling (a not so guilty life-long pleasure) which I did for about four years. There was just something about grown men in their underwear pretending to hurt each other than fascinated me then, and still to this day.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
The teen market place is filled with fantasy tomes and ready for the screen post-apocalyptic stories that seem to have pushed out the core of the YA literature, or at least what used to be the core since the time of The Outsiders (can you tell I taught YA literature at a university in knowing that book?) which is realistic fiction. These novels that explore the daily hard work of growing up are still important, maybe even more so than ever before. Things Changed is unique to YA literature in that the characters are just out of high school having completed their first year of college. There is not much out there in the YA world, to my knowledge, that looks at the lives and times of kids at this difficult age of transitioning from a dependent high school teenager to a more independent young adult. It is during these years I think many people look back at having their shed their teen skin and acknowledge these were the years when Things Changed.
The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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