I met Abigail Johnson at this year’s YANovCon, and was immediately excited about her book for two reasons. First, the book is set in Arizona, a state I lived in for four years. Second, it features a relationship between a sister and her half-brother, and I have two half-brothers. Most importantly, this book explores the fragile ties that hold families together, and how easily they can be wrenched apart:
Dana Fields’s father never knew his parents. When Dana secretly does a DNA test for her dad, hoping to find him some distant relatives for his birthday, her entire world implodes. Instead of a few third cousins, Dana discovers a half brother her age whose very existence means her parents’ happy marriage is a lie.
Dana’s desire to know her half brother, Brandon, and the extent of her dad’s deception, clashes with her wish not to destroy her family. When she sees the opportunity to get to know Brandon through his cousin, the intense yet kind Chase, she takes it. But the more she finds out about Brandon, her father’s past and the irresistible guy who’ll never forgive her if he discovers the truth, the more she sees the inevitable fallout from her own lies. With her family crumbling around her, Dana must own up to her actions and find a way to heal the breach—for everyone—before they’re torn apart for good.
What is it like to go bodysurfing in Mexico? Is it an experience you would like to write about?
It’s a blast! I’ve always loved the water and I especially love that feeling of weightlessness I find in the ocean. It can be as scary as it is exhilarating though. I got caught in a riptide the last time I was in Mazatlán and even though we never got sucked out too far I couldn’t completely quell that flash of panic when the beach started getting further away. I would absolutely like to write about it at some point. That’s actually a really good idea!
Oh, wow. I’m glad you’re okay! There is a cameo of a character from IF I FIX YOU in THE FIRST TO KNOW. In what other ways, if any, are your standalone books connected?
I loved dropping that little cameo in THE FIRST TO KNOW! My first two books are both set in nearby towns in Arizona so the general area is the same, but I think that might be it.
In your experience, how is a second book different than a debut in terms of marketing, and what marketing strategies have worked well for you?
As far as strategies go that’s all my publisher. I’m so fortunate to have an amazing marketing team at Harlequin Teen. They flew me to a lot of bookseller trade shows and events for my second book, four times as many as with my first book. My job is to say yes to as much as possible. I did connect up with a handful of bloggers for reviews and giveaways on my own which I think is always a great way to get the word out. I also try to come up with a few fun things to post on my social media accounts. This was my favorite one for THE FIRST TO KNOW. Oh, and I did make up some customized lip balm swag that I pass out at events. Those have been a huge hit.
Lip balms are great–and I can’t help but be reminded of a book title whenever I use one. What are some of your current projects?
I have two more books coming out from Harlequin Teen. The first one is called EVEN IF I FALL and it will be published on January 8, 2019. It’s about a figure skater coping with her brother’s murder conviction while falling for the last person she ever expected: the victim’s brother. The book after that will be hitting shelves in 2020 but I can’t talk about the story just yet ?