Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.
When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.
And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.
To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer. Read an excerpt from Flat-Out Love
Where did you get the idea for this story?
It's Rick Springfield's fault. Look, I have this slight interest in Rick Springfield (that's another story), and one time when I was doing a Google search for naked pictures regular old photos of Rick, I came across the most fabulously crazy blog. Some guy had purchased a Flat Rick and put together a video documenting Flat Rick's various outings: a trip to Starbucks, mowing the lawn, riding in the car with his flat face hanging out the window... It was obviously the best video ever made. But what made it really spectacular was the fact that the video didn't come off entirely as a joke. There was a bit of a serious edge to the video… as though Flat Rick's owner was really just sharing a straight-forward day in the life of his cardboard cutout pal. (For the life of me, I cannot find this blog and video again. I don't know why I didn't bookmark it, so if anyone locates it, please send it my way. I am desperate to see this video again.)
As a normal(ish) person, I found this odd. As a writer, I found this fantastically exciting... I had a few ideas for a book I wanted to write, but it wasn't coming together. Until I started thinking: What if a character had a Flat Somebody? What if this Flat Somebody was carted around everywhere? Why would a person have a Flat Somebody? And then the what-ifs kept flowing... The challenge then becomes figuring out how to work such a bizarre concept into a meaningful story. And I like a challenge. Around the same time, I had an idea for a modern-day take on Snow White. The outline was a bit of a disaster, though: way too many characters, forced plotlines, and… well, it just didn’t work. I loved the idea of a stranger moving into a home of rather dysfunctional (but charismatic and super interesting family). So I stripped down that outline to its core meaning and found a new plot and a much more powerful story.
Right now the book is only available for the Kindle. (I know! Sorry!) I am in the middle of working out a potential Amazon-exclusive deal, but there will be a print version available. Sometime. Hopefully soon. I’ll be posting updates on my blog, so stay tuned!
Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novel RELATIVELY FAMOUS, five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park) and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2). She grew up in the Boston area and then went to Macalester College in frigid St. Paul, Minnesota. During her freshman year, there was a blizzard on Halloween, and she decided that she was not cut out for such torture. So she moved back to the east coast where, she'd forgotten, it still snows. Oops. She now lives in New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, she is probably on Facebook , pining over 80s rock stars, or engaging in "Glee" activities. Or some combination of the three. Probably with a coffee in hand.
Jessica loves to hear from readers and does her best to get back to everyone who writes her! You can e-mail her HERE. Tell her about your ex-boyfriend who was a font nerd. Or send pictures of awesome Flat People on adventures. (You get bonus points for this. Possibly some sort of award, too.) Stories of online romance. Apartment rental disasters. Angsty romance. Skydiving experiences... Whatever you want.
And like any normal person, she has an online addiction, so you can find her on her OFFICIAL WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, GOODREADS, TWITTER, and blogging at What the Kid Says about her kooky conversations with her son. Her young adult book, RELATIVELY FAMOUS, has its own website (greedy book!), so stop by for more info.
Want to win a Kindle e-copy of Flat-Out Love?
It's easy! All you have to do is leave a comment and be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Good luck! Contest ends 5/24 at midnight eastern standard time.