The time it was about Afterward

Posted September 21, 2016 by Stacee in Blog Tours, Interviews | 4 Comments

When I got the invite to be part of the blog tour for Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu, I hadn’t read the book yet.  I liked the other book of Jennifer’s that I read, and I loved the premise of Afterward, so I quickly agreed.

Before we get to Jennifer’s interview, let’s check out the book!

afterward_cover-imageWhen Caroline’s little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself.

In the aftermath, Caroline can’t help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can’t see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories.

But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend–and their best option just might be each other.

Macmillan | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Sounds good, right?


1. Please give the elevator pitch for Afterward.

AFTERWARD is about two teenagers named Ethan and Caroline from a small Texas town whose lives are linked by a kidnapping.  They form a soul-saving friendship that helps them recover from trauma and that proves there is always a light in the darkness.  And it’s not a romance

2. Where did the idea come from?

Almost ten years ago – long before my first novel was even published – I woke up one morning and put on CNN.  There was a breaking news story about a little boy who had been kidnapped from his bus stop in Missouri.  Fortunately, police found him a few days later, but when they entered the apartment where he was being held, they were shocked to discover another older teenage boy who had been kidnapped by the same man four years earlier and who had been missing all that time, held by the same abusive kidnapper who took the little boy.  In the press conferences with the two families, I noticed the little boy taken from the bus stop had an older teenage sister about the same age as the teenage boy held for four years.  I started thinking how crazy it was that these two teenagers’ lives were now linked by this incredibly rare crime.  I tucked the idea away for a long time and it turned into AFTERWARD.  Even though it is very loosely based on real events, I want to be clear that the events in the book are entirely fictional.

3. Why do you love Caroline and Ethan and why should we root for them?

I love these characters so much.  It was hard to put them through so much because I cared about them deeply – and I admit I put them both through hell.  I want readers to root for them because they deserve it.  Despite all they’ve endured, they are good people with big hearts and they want to love and be loved.  Both carry enormous guilt and shame, and I think we can all relate to that, even if we haven’t experienced it in the same amounts as these two characters.

4. You wrote the book in both of their POVs. Who was easier to work with?

It’s so weird, but Ethan.  I’m not a boy, and I haven’t survived the kind of extreme trauma he goes through in the novel, but for some reason his voice came so much more easily.  I thought Caroline would be easier.  I was sort of a snarky teenage girl like her even if I wasn’t a troublemaker like Caroline sometimes is.  My editor and I came up with this joke during our edits – #whoiscaroline?  She would pop this hashtag into her notes on scenes where Caroline wasn’t fully developed.  I wrote this book after writing my novel Devoted, which is about a young girl who tries so hard to be good and who is very isolated from the world, so I think initially I depended too much on “bad girl” stereotypes when writing Caroline because she was so different from Rachel in Devoted.  With the help of my editor I think I finally found her voice.  I hope readers agree!

5. Without spoilers, were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish could have stayed?

Actually, no.  I had a slightly different scene toward the end that initially I was disappointed to change that my editor thought wasn’t working, but once I did I realized it was better for the story overall.  So it all worked out as it should have, thanks to my brilliant editor.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes.

It took me years of rejections and two almost-sold-them novels before my first book (which was really my third manuscript) sold in a four-house auction.  I would like to say I cried, but I was just too stunned.  When my agent called with the first offer, I just stood there, stupefied.  I was vacationing with my family and my dad cried when he heard the news, and that’s when it hit me that it had actually finally happened for me.  When the deal finally went through a few days later and I chose the winning house in the auction, I was in the Atlanta airport on a layover and I went into a Kiehl’s and dropped $200 on face cream and lip gloss.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

My husband, my son, and my library of books.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter

4. What book character would you want to date and who would you want to be your BFF?

I’ll give you the answers my teenage me would have given – Johnny Cade from The Outsiders and Melinda Sordino from Speak, respectively.

5. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently?{Huge thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me use this question!}

Ditch Edward and Jacob, go to college, and major in women’s studies.


mathieu_jennifer-credit-pablo-gamezI’m an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. My debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, was published by Roaring Brook Press on June 3, and my second book, DEVOTED, came out in June of 2015. My third novel, AFTERWARD, about two small town Texas teenagers whose lives are linked by a terrifying crime, will be out in September 2016.

My favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980s sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. I can basically quote every episode. I live with my husband, son, one rescue dog, and one old kitty cat.


Huge thanks to Macmillan for the invite and to Jennifer for taking the time.  Make sure you’re checking out Jennifer’s website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR.

And now, what about you? Are you excited about Afterward? Have you already read it?


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4 responses to “The time it was about Afterward

  1. Ditch those boys !! Knowing that Afterward has a friendship between a boy and girl makes me want to read it more. I loved Aria’and Roar’s friendship in under the never sky series. More real male-female friendships need to published in YA . I can’t stand fake quirky sidekick friendships

    Lovely interview

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