Welcome to the first blog tour stop for Heather Demetrios' I'll Meet You There! The FYA book report will be posted later this week. Until then, here's the official scoop on the book:
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage-months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings them together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
Gritty, romantic, and ultimately hopeful, I'll Meet You There explores the complicated lives of an unforgettable cast of characters. This is the story of teens outside the picket fence. It doesn’t soften the edges of adolescence or the individual consequences of war; it’s life on the fringes—maddening, weirdly endearing…and completely screwed up.
Joining us at the FYA lockers today is Heather Demetrios, who's here to talk about -- well, let's let the title speak for itself...
Peeta and Gus Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Josh Mitchell: Sex and the One-Legged Boy
There is nothing more awkward than having your husband come home to find you watching a YouTube video of a dude taking off his prosthetic leg. Even though I knew I was doing research for my novel, I’ll Meet You There, and he knew I was doing the research, it still looked bad. I mean, it was no secret I’d fallen head over heels for Josh, the Marine in my novel. Clearly I was in a place where the lack of leg wasn’t necessarily a mood killer. So I couldn’t help but feel a little dirty, like I was some kind of Internet Peeping Tom at worst, a girl foraying into the kinky, at best. But even before my husband came in, I kept looking over my shoulder like the creep I’d become. I couldn’t write an amputee love interest without knowing how prosthetics worked, I got that. But there are few things more intimate than watching a stranger take off their leg, and my paranoia kicked in, me imagining scenarios in which I’d get caught: the feds would come in with a warrant for I-don’t-know-what, my neighbor would want a cup of sugar, my friend would stop by for a drink.
**Spoiler alert*** This won’t ruin anything for you: Josh has sex in this book. You’re welcome.
Imagine my awkwardness over researching how to put on a prosthetic, clean the prosthetic, and care for one’s stump. Take that awkwardness and multiply it by ten when I begin doing research for, as I googled it: “Sex with prosthetics.” OH MY GOD. Was I seriously typing that into my browser? They say nothing ever gets truly erased, right, so does that mean that, conceivably, someone could find out my Internet history even if I cleared it? What about the NSA? Aren’t they watching everything we do online? I mean, it’s not as bad as googling “How to be a jihadist,” but it’s still pretty bad, right? I write for teens! There’s a behavior clause in one of my contracts and they’re going to find out that I’ve got this fetish and then I’ll never write again, but I’ll really never write again if I don’t get this sex scene right.
Lucky for me, I happen to be writing about a one-legged love interest when readers are swooning over two of the most famous single-legged boys in YA history: I’m talking, of course, about Peeta from Hunger Games and Gus from TFIOS. I like to think that Josh fits in very nicely with these two boys, both of whom manage to have sex with pretty, two-legged girls without it being in any way a detriment to the romance of their encounter. I like that this celebrates diversity and shows that you can be sexy and whole even if you have a serious disability. And another thing: I wanted to show that sex is important. That, to me, it’s about love and trust and growth. I wanted to show how it can heal and teach and that the decision to have it is an important one that deserves your full consideration—whether you have one leg or two.
So there was no way around it: I had to know how to do the deed with only one flesh and blood leg. So, I read various articles, most of which basically said that it really depends on the people in the bed. Some amputees have sex with their prosthetic on, if that’s what makes them and their partner most comfortable. Some prefer to take it off, thus exposing their stump because it’s comfortable and, ultimately, it’s who they are. The culture of amputees is just as complicated as all other sub-cultures in society. For some amputees, it’s empowering to own their disability—they are my new heroes. Others like to maintain the illusion, for all the reasons you can imagine. I decided that Josh needed to have sex without the leg on. You see, Josh is a Marine. A guy’s guy. Skylar describes his sex life before he left for the war as “sexcapades.” This was someone who was used to getting some pretty much all the time. Now take this guy and put him in a war zone. Have him lose his close friends and then try to scrape their blood off his boots. Take away his leg and give him nightmares. Take away the future he thought he was going to have.
Josh has lost his swagger. More than that, he’s lost his identity. He can never go back to being the dick who ran his small town (and, everywhere, readers sigh with relief). In the summer he spends working at the Paradise Motel with Skylar, he has to figure out who he is. He knows one thing: the thought of having sex with a girl he’s falling in love with (love—that’s something he’s never had the guts to do), a girl he knows is way too good for him, a girl who’s a virgin—yeah, he’d rather go back to war and fight the Taliban all by himself than get naked in front of Skylar Evans. When Josh and Sky finally do have sex, it isn’t just two teens who really want each other. It’s about Josh finally being able to be intimate with someone as he is now, accepting himself, and learning to trust his partner to honor all that goes into him baring what’s left of the leg a bomb in Afghanistan took from him. Sex with Sky and Josh is about love and forgiveness and sheer terror and joy and not giving into the darkness.
I’ll tell you this: writing this scene is, hands down, the hottest thing I’ve ever written. Who knew sex with prosthetics could do so much to your nether regions! It’s also the most satisfying emotionally because so much has to happen for these two broken people to come to this place (Gah! No pun intended) where they can be totally exposed and vulnerable. All their fear and barriers don’t go away as soon as their clothes come off. It’s a gradual process of letting go of their mutual fear of rejection. It’s emotional and a little bit funny in that giddy, heady kind of way and it’s sweet and intense. There’s so much more I want to say about it, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. It took me a long time to get the scene right, to honor what Sky and Josh have been through, to acknowledge the miles it took for them to meet in this place where a person can become your home. I blushed every second I wrote it and every second I re-read it. And the leg thing? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thanks for stopping by, Heather! Check out Heather's website, or find her on Twitter (@HDemetrios), Pinterest, or Facebook. And check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour for I'll Meet You There!
Want to win a copy of I'll Meet You There? (Trust -- YOU DO.) Skylar and Josh work together at the Paradise Motel, which features a different theme for each room. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment with a theme suggestion for a room. A winner will be randomly chosen on Monday, February 9th. (U.S. and Canada only. Sorry, everyone else!) (contest closed)
Pro-tip: order I'll Meet You There before this Valentine's Day and receive an exclusive handwritten love letter from Josh Mitchell! Get all the deets here.
And if you buy it this week, you can help out the Wounded Warriors Project!