Before and After: Moving Across the Country
I was a year out of college and all my plans had changed. Instead of going into an MFA graduate fiction writing program, I wanted to stay in the real, non-school world and write for film and TV. Rather than continue living with my parents, I thought it might be more fun to stay sane.
“Go West,” said that 1800’s political guy Horace Greeley, and so I did. I bought a shiny new red car and named it Tiger, packed it full of stuff, then drove until I hit the ocean in Los Angeles. My dad came with me, and it was a fantastic trip. I’d traveled with my family throughout Europe but had never seen most of the U.S. I remember seeing the skyline of Toledo and thinking, “There are people who consider themselves the most influential in Toledo,” and it blew my mind as an example of how big the country really is.
On the road, I did lots of California Dreamin’. To me, it was sports drink commercials and sunsets and every teen movie I’d ever loved. I was going to be sharing an apartment on the beach with a friend’s girlfriend, and it was going be 90210-tastic.
Once I got there, and my dad flew home, reality set in. I was 3,000 miles away from home in a place where there are no seasons, and I knew all of two people. Everything looked and felt different, from the air to the trees to the asphalt. I didn’t find the glamorous job. I didn’t hook up with the perfectly perfect circle of friends. But it was an adventure, and slowly, I built a life there.
Before California, I had never gone outside my comfort zone. I’d never known what it was like to truly be without all the things I’d grown up with: family, friends, a sense of place and history.
After, I understood how you can make someplace your own, and how you can forge a virtual family out of friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You create new traditions and just through the process of living, new history. There’s a lot of that in “The Beginning of After,” and there’s a lot of that in my life now that I’ve done the cross-country move in reverse, coming back to the East Coast to start again in a new town. I’ve learned that the definition of “home” changes constantly, depending on what part of it you need at any particular moment in time.
About the tour concept:
"Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: it’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-
About the book:
Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. Now, Laurel must navigate a new world in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.
About the author:
Jennifer Castle graduated from Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist's assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that's an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. The Beginning of After is her first novel. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in New York's Hudson Valley. Visit her at http://www.jennifercastle.com