I’m so excited to be a part of the book tour for Sunkissed by Kasie West that is hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. Kasie West has been a favorite contemporary author of mine for many years and I’m so excited that I was able to interview her!
Congratulations on the publication of Sunkissed! How has the publication experience been for Sunkissed compared to your previous books?
Thank you! And thanks for having me. As to this publishing experience versus past ones, well, the main thing is that I wrote, edited, and now am launching SUNKISSED all in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s been a lot different. My whole family has been home for the last year which can make finding the time to write and edit challenging. But we fell into a nice routine and I know we’ve been lucky to have the space and means available to work from home.
How would you describe Sunkissed in one sentence?
A summer camp romance about how sometimes it takes escaping our everyday lives to find ourselves and perhaps find love along the way.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Sunkissed?
Avery, our main character, is a people pleaser. She tries to avoid conflict and really cares about others, sometimes at the expense of herself. She loves her family and wants everyone to be happy and have fun.
Brooks, our main love interest, tends to shut the world out. He works at the summer camp as (among other things) a member of the house band. He’s a guitarist and plays from a set list of slow jams to the camp patrons. But what he really wants to be doing is playing his own music. He has big dreams and a big heart even though he keeps both close to his chest.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
Half and half. Sometimes I know how the book will end. Sometimes I just know the major climax. Most of the time I know the important beats of the story and then the characters fill in the journey to reach those points. Sometimes though, as I’m writing, the story changes. I try not to be so rigid in my opinion of how the story should go that I don’t leave room for the story to take unexpected turns.
Was there anything that was cut from the book that you were sad to see go?
This story had some major changes from the early draft to the final draft. It was mostly the pacing of the first hundred or so pages that changed. And no, I wasn’t sad to see any of those early iterations go. The book has been made so much stronger in the editing process that I am only happy with the changes. And honestly, I don’t remember any specific scenes. I think they were mostly family interactions that I cut. The key to help the pacing was to reach the love interest faster and with more impact. So I combined a couple chapters, cut one completely, and really tightened up some family scenes.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
One of my favorite (non-spoilery) scenes happens when Avery meets Brooks for the first time. I like it, because it really shows who they are before they both put up some walls. Here is a little part of the exchange:
“Are you…is this…a band?” I asked the guy near me.
His eyebrows shot up.
“I mean, obviously it is, but why?”
A half-smile finally crept onto his face, lighting up his eyes and making him seem more approachable. If a half-smile could do all that, I found myself wondering what his full smile was capable of.
“Mostly for, you know…the music,” he said.
I rolled my eyes but also smiled. “The music? How unoriginal. I’d do it for the groupies…or the drugs.”
“I’ve known for years that I’m a total sell out,” he shot back.
My smile widened. I couldn’t help it. He was the first person tonight who seemed to actually get my jokes.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Sunkissed?
Only three?! There are so many fun YA contemporaries that I love! Some of my all-time favs: Anna and The French Kiss, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Truth About Forever, The Summer I Turned Pretty…Okay, I guess that’s more than three. ☺
If you were making a list of new things to try like Avery, what would you include on it?
Food! I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to trying new food so I need to challenge myself in that department. Travel! I love to travel and after a year of covid lockdowns, I’m itching to visit new places that I haven’t been before. Art! I want to learn to paint. I’ve always thought it would be a good stress reliever for me but I’m not very good at it. But I’d love to learn some basics and then not care how good I am. Just do it for fun.
Music is such a huge part of Sunkissed. Did any songs directly inspire anything in the book?
You know, I basically had Taylor Swift albums on repeat while thinking about this book. I don’t listen to music while I write, it’s way too distracting, but in the car and when I’m not writing, music inspires me.
What are a few songs that you would include on a Sunkissed playlist?
- Gold Rush by Taylor Swift
- Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
- Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
- I Had the Time of my Life by Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes
- Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
Yes! I have another YA contemporary coming out next year with Delacorte. I have yet to reveal the title but it is a fun road trip book featuring reunited best friends and I love it so much. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
TOP 5 REASONS TO READ
- An easy to read summer read!
- Sunkissed is such a quick and easy read and would be perfect for anyone looking for a feel good book to read.
- All the music!
- There’s so much music involved in Sunkissed and if you love anything that involves that, you will love this as well!
- The amazing family dynamic!
- Kasie West books always have a great family dynamic in my opinion and Sunkissed was no different. I loved the relationship between the sisters in particular.
- The setting!
- The setting of Sunkissed was absolutely amazing and definitely worked so well for the story.
- The romance!
- Like every Kasie West I’ve ever read, the romance is by far one of my favorites. This one took some time compared to some of her other books in my opinion, but the payoff was so worth it. I adore this one so much!
ABOUT THE BOOK
A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined…and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!
After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.
But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kasie West is the author of many YA novels, including The Fill-in Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, Lucky in Love, and Listen to Your Heart. Her books have been named ALA-YALSA Quick Picks, JLG selections, and ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults. When she’s not writing, she’s binge-watching television, devouring books, or bury-ing her toes in the sand of the Central Coast. Kasie lives in Fresno, California, with her family.