The Grown Ups
By: Robin Antalek
Releasing January 27th, 2015
From Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart, comes an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends who explore what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and the difficulties in doing both together. Spanning over a decade, and told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them. It is the addictive and moving story of these old friends who wind up confronting their past in order to find happiness in their adult lives that make this novel an anticipated winter release.
Sam Turner, the summer he turns 15, feels lucky enough to enjoy the unexpected attention of his friend Suzie Epstein, even though it’s only a few secret months. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand—and will never question—the budding relationship is kept hidden from their close circle of friends. But before their summer tans can even start to fade, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving away to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.
Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie Epstein takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers while simultaneously planning an early escape to college to seek independence. Though she occasionally thinks of Sam, it’s her oldest friend Bella Spade she finds herself missing. Embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie could call home, Suzie makes no attempt to reconnect with the one person she needs. Its years later that a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother Michael will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—finally forcing her to confront her friends, her past and what she left behind.
After losing Suzie, Bella surprisingly finds her first real love in Sam. But his inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. Watching Suzie and Michael as they seem to have worked it all out, Bella’s only to wonder where she went wrong and how to make it right.
The 7 Stages of Writing a Novel
~ Robin Antalek
1. The Crush. You have an idea? It makes you smile at the thought? You don’t do anything, yet. Every time you think about it – and you can’t stop thinking about it – it gives you a secret thrill. With The Grow Ups I had one sentence. The first sentence. That was all I had for about a month.
2. Flirting. You put a few words down on paper. You imagine what the characters look like, where they live, what they eat for breakfast. You tear out pages from magazines or scour photos and place them around your desk. Anything that gives you a sense of who these characters are. Because of that first sentence I had an entire neighborhood, a close-knit groups of friends and their parents in my head before I even wrote a word. We went on a lot of walks and bike rides together.
3. The First Date. You are bursting. Your fingers may even tingle. When you can’t stand it another minute you will sit down and write – maybe in starts and stops, and maybe in a torrent of words. It doesn’t matter how you do it. You ARE writing. When I sat down to write I had no expectations of a novel – as a matter of fact I thought I had a solid idea for a short story. When that short story was finished, I kept going. I submitted the first chapter as a short story to Glimmertrain magazine and it ended up as a finalist in a contest. It validated the idea to continue past the original idea.
4. Making it Official. One chapter leads to two, two to three, and on and on. You shouldn’t be counting words, or editing, you should just be getting it all down on paper. This is the best part of writing – the discovery process. Where do the characters want to go? What obstacles are in their way? Let them do what they want. You want to be surprised now. I just kept writing. I didn’t stop. It was a very, very fast first draft – under three months.
5. This Might Be Getting Serious. It doesn’t matter how long it took you to get here. You have a first draft. Some come quickly, some don’t. There are probably huge gaps, continuity could be a problem, pacing and plotting might be rough. It doesn’t matter. I had been letting my agent read bits and pieces as I wrote. When I had that first draft she asked me a few questions. I went back into the manuscript (another couple of months) and addressed her concerns. It wasn’t long after that she submitted it to my editor at Harper Collins.
6. The Commitment. You can’t leave these characters hanging no matter the issues. If you want to see this to the end – you might have to let some of them go, do things to make them hurt or worse. Make no mistake about it: it’s hard. This is the real work of writing. Give the manuscript to a trusted reader. Read the manuscript out loud. Put it aside and return to it later if you can’t be objective. No first draft is perfect. Let that go. In the case of The Grown Ups, I had written the draft in first person, single POV. My editor asked if I had ever considered third person and multiple viewpoints? Because the main dramatic tension in the novel was between the male narrator and two female – she asked me to try writing some chapters in their POV. The original draft was on the slim side – around 260 pages – I could afford to add which was easier. Turning first to third, rearranging the structure of the novel, trying to figure out where these other voices came in – took about another six months. It was rough, but made for a much more multi-layered story. I lost a chapter I loved during the re-write. Both editor and agent said it wasn’t necessary, but totally my call. After much deliberation I let it go. Kill your darlings.
7. Congratulations. You may have killed a character or two, dropped lengthy passages that you were sure was some of your best writing, added a narrator or deleted a narrator. You probably gained a little weight. It’s okay. You are holding your manuscript in your hands.
About the Author:
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. Her nonfiction writing has been published in literary journals and in several collections, including The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, and Literary Mama among others. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Giveaway for 3 print copies of
THE SUMMER WE FELL APART by Robin Antalek