Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE by Anica Mrose Rissi-- Interview & Giveaway

Always Forever Maybe

by Anica Mrose Rissi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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When Betts meets Aiden at the candy store where she works, their connection is like a sugar rush to the heart. Even before they share a first kiss, Betts already knows the two of them are destined to become an us.

Betts has a bruised, cautious history with love, but she feels safe and empowered in Aiden's arms. He trusts her with the darkness in his troubled past, and his devotion opens up a new future for Betts just as everything else in her world is changing. With graduation inching closer, Betts and her best friend, Jo, have been sliding slowly apart, and that fissure is blown wide open by Aiden.

Betts has only ever kept one secret from Jo, but suddenly there's a long list of things she won't tell her, things Jo wouldn't understand. Because Jo doesn't see how good Aiden is for Betts. She finds him needy. Possessive. Controlling.

She's wrong. With a love like this, nothing else matters.

Hi Anica!!!  We are so excited to have you join our tours and to chat with you about ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE!! 


Favorite Book?

Gah, you’ve put the hardest question first! I truly cannot choose a favorite book of all time, but I’ll tell you that Octavia Butler’s Kindred is one I find myself thinking about often, Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantastmagory series delights me to no end, and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon trilogy is something I reread countless times back in the day. 

Favorite TV show?

Do YouTube videos of puppies count?

Favorite movie?

The Iron Giant

Favorite Song?

Neko Case’s “Soulful Shade of Blue” 

Favorite Food?

Cheese! (Ice cream is a close second.)

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.

Um, most fictional places I can think of right now seem far too dangerous to move to in a heartbeat. Pooh’s Corner, perhaps? Or Sesame Street?

What were your favorite books while growing up?

I loved Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious, Cynthia Voigt’s On Fortune’s Wheel, and Judy Blume’s Just as Long as We’re Together.

Favorite Quote?

I don’t have a favorite quote, but here’s a line from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping that I’ve been thinking about a lot, in part because of its relevance to the book I’m currently writing: “When do our senses know anything so utterly as when we lack it?”

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?

I fangirl hard over all the authors who were “mine” in my editor years, including Corey Ann Haydu, Shaun David Hutchinson, Tiffany D. Jackson, Brittany Cavallaro, Amy Reed, Eileen Cook, Lauren Myracle, Lauren Strasnick, Jessica Martinez, Leila Sales, Rebecca Serle, Terra Elan McVoy, Delilah S. Dawson, Kali Wallace, Kristin Bailey, Christa Desir, Maureen Johnson, Hilary T. Smith, Hannah Moskowitz, and so many more. (I was an editor for a long time!) They are all super talented writers I adore and admire greatly, and I get ridiculously excited when one of them has a new book out for me to read.

What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans?

Oooh, if you haven’t read Emily X.R. Pan’s The Astonishing Color of After yet, you must, especially if you love books that are gorgeously written, heartbreaking, and unexpected.


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE?

Always Forever Maybe is a contemporary novel about obsessive teenage love, toxic masculinity, an essential friendship, and the risks we take with our hearts. It centers on Betts (aka Bee), a high school senior, who meets Aiden at the candy shop where she works and feels an immediate, intoxicating connection. She falls hard, not only for Aiden but also for the idea of him, and of who she is in his eyes. But as sweetly as their love story starts, it quickly turns bitter, as Aiden grows increasingly needy, controlling, and manipulative. By that point, though, Bee is already in deep, and convinced that Aiden’s love is worth the cost. 

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE.)

If you could give advice to teens that find themselves in a toxic or unhealthy relationship, what would you say?

The same thing I wish I could tell my teenage self: “Listen to your instincts. Trust your gut. Believe in those things that you know deep down to be true.”  

How would you describe Betts and Jo’s friendship?

Bee’s relationship with her longtime best friend, Jo, is the heart of this story and was my favorite part of the book to write. It’s not always a perfect or evenly-balanced friendship (Betts is not a great friend to Jo throughout much of the novel; the closer she gets to Aiden, the further she pushes Jo away—and Jo is only human too, of course), but it is still a strong and essential one. Their love runs deep and true, and even though this story catches them at a moment where the weirdness of senior year and their impending separation for college would be causing stresses even if Aiden weren’t in the picture, this is a relationship that has withstood many years of changes and can handle the push and pull. To me, Betts and Jo’s friendship is the true love story of this novel. And the snap and crackle of their smart-girl banter was ridiculously fun to write.

Tell us your favorite quote from ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE.

“Spring fever hit our school at full tilt, an orgy of madness and hope, more frenzied than even in years before. My classmates were like wind-up toys that had been cranked slowly, all winter long, and were now finally released to their literal and metaphorical flips, spasms, and somersaults. The hallways and lunchroom were mayhem, and half the teachers seemed to give up on even trying to make us learn. We were seniors. That was fine with us.” 

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?  Or which part was the most difficult to get through?

Any scene with Jo in it was fun to write, but perhaps my favorite scenes are the ones with Betts, Jo, and Jo’s twin brother, Eric. The dynamics of that threesome were fascinating to watch unfold (which really is how I experienced it—when placed together in a room, the three of them took over, and it was my job to sit back, observe, and record their conversations without interfering…and also to record all the things that went unsaid). I love the scene where Jo and Eric are joking around with Bee in the minutes before Aiden picks her up for their first real date, and all that’s happening beneath the surface there. And the morning after, when Eric joins the girls in the kitchen and the conversation is both funny and serious, and we see how connected they all are, but also hints of the things they’re not telling one another.

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE– Which one would you pick?

The full song isn’t an exact fit, but the line “I can’t care about anything but you” from “Lovefool” by The Cardigans definitely feels apropos. If I were a DJ, I would mix that with the lines “And this type of love isn’t rational, it’s physical….All reason aside, I just can’t deny I love the guy….And even I know this ain’t smart” from Britney Spears’ “Criminal” and that would be a pretty good soundtrack for what’s going through Bee’s head through much of the book. 

But for the overall theme I’d have to pick an anthem to tried-and-true friendship, like The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You” (but preferably something, um, better). 

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE (specific music, snacks…)? 

Bee’s best friend, Jo, is a baker, and I recommend eating almost everything she bakes in the book, from rosemary cookies with tart lemon glaze to brown-sugar cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. (I’m a baker too, and I loaned her several of my favorite recipes.) But like Betts, I’m not interested in eating anything with raisins in it, so I would skip the cinnamon rolls with raisins in them that Jo bakes while she and Bee are fighting. You should pair the sweets with strong black coffee, which Betts drinks when she’s with Aiden despite disliking its bitter taste.

What’s next for you? 

I’m working on the draft of my second YA novel (I’m a very slow drafter but am finally reaching the end, almost two years after I started), which I can’t say too much about yet, except that it’s about a heartbroken teen who tells a desperate lie that blurs her understanding of reality and truth. 

I also write books for younger readers, so the next books from me will be Anna, Banana, and the Sleepover Secret (book seven in my Anna, Banana chapter-book series about a girl named Anna, her wiener dog, Banana, and all of the ups and downs of elementary school best-friendship), which is illustrated by Cassey Kuo and comes out on October 2nd, and Watch Out for Wolf! (my second picture book, a sendup of “This Little Piggy Went to Market” in which the five little piggies have a very big surprise for Wolf), which is illustrated by Charles Santoso and comes out in April 2019. 

Thanks so much for chatting with us!!

Thank you for having me! And thanks for reading and sharing Always Forever Maybe

Michelle: You guys!!!  I just finished this book and I loved it so much.  I wish there were 1,000 more books like this because I think toxic relationships aren't talked about enough.  Also, I totally agree with Anica-- all the scenes with Jo in them made this book better.  She's a rockstar.  

AND I am drooling over that list of authors that Anica edited for.  I couldn't even imagine how cool it would be to work with all that talent!!

Anica Mrose Rissi grew up on an island off the coast of Maine. After college, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a cheesemonger and book editor. She now writes, fiddles in the electro-country band Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves, and walks with her dog, Arugula, near their home in Princeton, New Jersey. Anica is the author of several books for younger readers, and her essays have been published by The Writer and the New York Times. Always Forever Maybe is her YA debut. Visit her online at anicarissi.com, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @anicarissi.

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  1. Ahh. This book sounds like a dark To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Just the feel for Jo's character reminded me of Lara Jean. The baking and the laughter. I like that the story is also exploring something rarely discussed in YA fiction. Awesome interview with the author.

    1. I so wish I had a friend like Jo!!! She's the best.

  2. This book is on my TBR and sounds like it will be emotionally difficult, yet great to read, as i love books that can mess with my emtions.