Ceejay has never been pretty or popular, but she knows who she is: she's younger sister to Bobby, the most charming bad boy in town. Bobby's a bit wild, but with his big heart and sense of fun, everybody loves him. And nobody understands Ceejay like Bobby.
Now, Ceejay can't wait for Bobby to return home from his tour in Iraq. But then he turns up unannounced and seems to be avoiding his family. And he's so different. His wild streak has become reckless. His sense of fun has become desperate. And seeing this, Ceejay's own tough shell begins to crack. How can she believe in being strong when her hero is broken?
As she tries to get Bobby back, Ceejay begins to reexamine her family, her community, and everyone in her life. What she finds is that true strength is not quite what she thought it was.
Hello Tim, thanks for stopping by to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
Tim: As a college undergraduate in Oklahoma, I took classes in fiction writing and then went on to the graduate fiction writing program at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The most valuable lesson I learned from my workshop experience was how to really revise my writing. After critiquing the work of my talented peers, I realized I needed to bring that same objectivity to my own writing.
My first published book was Falling Dark, a literary novel that wasn’t aimed at young adults but contained teenagers as important characters. I picked three publishers to send the manuscript to, and one of them, Milkweed Editions, chose it for their National Milkweed Prize in Fiction. I didn’t have an agent then, so I fielded their call myself and accepted their first offer. For my initial young adult novel, I found an excellent agent and she was able to generate several offers, which led to an auction for the rights to the book, The Knights of the Hill Country. Knopf and their wonderful editor won out, and I was very happy with the outcome. My advice: definitely shop your manuscript to an agent first.
Please tell us about your novel, BADD, and what we can expect from your characters.
Tim: BADD tells the story of sixteen-year-old girl, Ceejay McDermott, who is excited when her revered older brother Bobby returns from military duty in Iraq. But soon Ceejay finds that Bobby has changed. Once a fun-loving free spirit, he is now surly and even self-destructive. Although this is devastating to Ceejay, she is determined, with the help of family and a few friends, to stand by Bobby. Along the way, she discovers a new kind of courage that she never appreciated before.
Wonderful! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Tim: I’m working on a couple of things, but it’s too early in the process to go into much detail about either one of them. For me, talking too much about novel ideas in their early stages drains me of the creative energy I need to push through to the end. Also, I still might change my mind and start something else. However, I can say that one of the projects involves a character who is an expert on the subject of hamburgers.
Thank you for sharing with us, Tim! Would you like to close with a writing tip or a favorite quote from your novel?
Tim: In BADD, Ceejay offers advice to a friend who might or might not become her boyfriend. Her words could come in handy for a variety of situations, even, at times, for writers: “You don’t need hope. What you need is valiance. When everything goes dark, you keep going anyway. That’s what you do.”
TIM THARP lives in Oklahoma, where he teaches at Rose State College. He is the author of the highly acclaimed YA novels Knights of the Hill Country and The Spectacular Now, which was a 2008 National Book Award finalist.