J.M.: The inspiration for SYBL came from a few places. The idea for a bucket list happening during senior year came from browsing Pinterest, and from there things rolled on. Best friend’s brother romance. Second-chance scenario. And music is always a big inspiration for me as well.
The first draft for this one was split up, actually. I had started with the idea and put down a couple of thousand words only to shelf it for a little bit to write some other things. But when I came back to it and got serious, the draft took me roughly 2 months.
J.M.: I’d say Caleb changed the most. I initially wanted him to be more of a jerk toward Celia during his high school years, but that just didn’t happen.
J.M.: For Caleb, a younger Alex Pettyfer. For Celia, I found a model who I think fits her look–Melina Martin. And for Mer, Shailene Woodley. I use Pinterest for character inspiration for all of my books and have them pinned there. I love plotting that way. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out.
J.M.: I will never say never, but I don’t really see it happening at this time, no.
COURTNEY: Which scene was the hardest for you to write?
J.M.: Oh wow! Hmm. Actually, the first chapter was tricky. I wanted SYBL to be more RomCom from the start, but I also needed Mer’s death to be that catalyst so starting the book off at her wake was complicated. I fought myself a lot with how to balance it out and make the transition from that sadness in a natural, gradual way. It took a few chapters, which probably makes it feel less like a RomCom to those who expect funny right off, but I still feel that it hits that genre, just not as in your face.
J.M.: I had plans for other bucket list items(kiss underwater, pictures in a photo booth …) but they never came to fruition. I knew while writing that things pulled together differently, that something wouldn’t fit, or it would drag other scenes out, so I just bagged it before even writing.
J.M.: The next book will likely be the final book in my Young Adult fantasy series, Fallen Flame. I took a break from that to write SYBL, so I need to jump back into that world and finish it.
J.M.: I don’t think I have anything to add except to thank you again. I really appreciate your review, and the pretty IG photo you took for SYBL!
HUGE thanks to J.M. for answering all of my questions! “Senior Year Bucket List” is now available, and is free on Kindle Unlimited!