Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Most Likely by Craig Hansen

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Becky Howard is a teen under pressure. Pressure from her best friend not to breathe a word about the abuse she's suffering by her mother. Pressure from her sister to understand her marital difficulties. Pressure from her boyfriend to get more physical than she's ready for. And pressure from the rumors about her boyfriend that are eroding her trust in him. As she prepares for the biggest track meet of her life, Becky's about to learn that sometimes growing up is about more than having sex, and that clinging to ideals might not be as helpful as learning to expect whatever is MOST LIKELY.
MOST LIKELY is approximately 63,000 words long and contains light Christian themes. 
Bio: Craig Hansen wrote stories from an early age, but when his SF short story, "The S.S. Nova," was published in the Minnesota Writers In the School COMPAS program's 1981 anthology of student writing, When It Grows Up, You Say Goodbye To It, he decided to dedicate himself to writing. Several unpublished novels and short stories followed. Hansen earned two degrees at Minnesota State University at Mankato under the mentorship of young adult novelist Terry Davis, who oversaw and approved an earlier version of Most Likely as his master's degree creative thesis. 

He leaned in for another kiss and she welcomed him. They were sitting in her Lumina, the gearbox and emergency brake creating a barrier between them so they wouldn't be tempted to get too close. Tom's tongue brushed at her lips and she hesitated, then opened her lips and let him run his tongue over her teeth and touch hers. She could feel every part of her heating up, and as much as she knew she needed to call things to a halt, she wanted to stay where they were, enjoying the contact, the sensations of each other.
Then she felt Tom move his hand from around her waist and come to rest on her stomach. She tensed. She was pretty sure Tom felt her tense up, but he kept kissing her. When his hand started seeking the hem of her blouse, Becky pushed him back gently.
"Sorry," she apologized. "I'm not … we need to stop."
Tom sighed and touched his forehead to hers. After a moment, he moved his hand off her stomach.
"Why?" he asked. "Things were going … this was nice."
"It is," she agreed. "But we can't ... I don't want to go further. I mean, I want to. Part of me does. But ... not here. Not now. I'm not ready."
Tom rolled away from her and sighed deeply. Becky did, too.
"Because of God?" he asked.
"That, too," Becky said. "It's not the only reason. I'm only … we're kids, Tom."
"Oh, come on," Tom said. "We're probably the only couple not doing it in the entire school."
Those words stung. They reminded Becky of Shari Jackson's hateful words. Tom told me he was getting tired of you and your God thing. Was it true?
"I doubt that," Becky said.
"You'd be surprised," Tom said.
"Well, it doesn't matter anyway what other couples do or don't do," Becky said. "This is about us."
"Or you," Tom muttered.
"What was that?"
"We're doing things by your standard, not mine," Tom said, more audibly. "That's what I mean."
"Oh, so you're okay with pawing me or screwing me? So I should, what, just go with whatever you want, because you want it, when you want it, even if I don't? Do you care so little about me that you wouldn't want me to be enjoying it, too? Yeah, that's real sexy, Tom. Really makes me want to reconsider."
"I'm not saying that," Tom said, his voice growing defensive. "You're making it sound worse than it is."
"Think about what you're saying. Listen to yourself."
A cold silence hovered between them. Becky acutely felt how easy it would be for either of them to continue, to lash out, to injure each other with bitter words. Instead, the silence continued. Becky grew impatient.
In a quieter, calmer voice, she said, "I need to get home. It's late."
"Fine," Tom said.
Interview with Craig Hansen

What will readers like about your book? 
I love young adult paranormal suspense as much as the next person, and in fact I'm working on a series in that genre next. But most teenage girls don't have to worry about a vampire boyfriend biting their necks. I wanted to tell a story more based in real-life issues teens face as they pass from childhood into adulthood. So my novel is vampire-free and if that sounds like a refreshing change of pace, maybe it's for you. 
Why did you self publish? 
Years of banging my head against the wall the other way. And knowing, deep down, that I was a good writer with solid stories to tell. I've won awards in journalism, so that wasn't just ego talking. But now my first work is in the hands of the real jury: readers. So we'll see.
What is your writing process?
I start with an idea. I grab an old-fashioned college-ruled notebook and start making notes on characters, plot, setting, whatever is necessary. Once I'm comfortable with that, I compose my first draft in FocusWriter, a freeware no-frills word processor. Once that's done, I'll let it sit for a while. Then I'll go through several rounds of revision, interrupted by a round of feedback from trusted first readers. Once I think I've taken it as far as I can, I hand it off to my editor and a while later, she shows me how much work I have left to do. Final revisions and error-checking. Formatting. Then I upload.
How long does it take you to write your first draft?
Depends on the length I wind up at. I try to write about 4,000 words a day, when I'm in first-draft mode. But I rarely finish by writing 60,000 words in 15 consecutive days, for example. Life interrupts. But now that I'm writing full-time, if I stick to it, I imagine I can get a first draft the length of MOST LIKELY done in about a month.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I originally wrote MOST LIKELY about 20 years ago, in college. I enjoyed coming-of-age novels, but was distressed that all most of these novels seemed to be about was sex. I thought, "There's more to growing up than sex." So MOST LIKELY is a reflection of that concept.
N.L. Earnshaw: Thank you for spending the time to share with everyone how Most Likely came about.  Having been witness to your attention to detail when choosing your cover through the Kindle Boards I am very excited to be able to help promote this book.   

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