by Jennifer Banash
to be published April 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
A gritty, atmospheric coming-of-age tale set in New York’s Lower East Side.
Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream—she has her own apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when her real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream.
The sounds of the city grate against Cat’s nerves, she shrinks away from human touch, and can barely think the words “I love you” even when she feels them. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father who’s found happiness in another woman, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But then someone comes along who makes her want to stop escaping her life and actually live it, only she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control. Both poignant and raw, White Lines is a gripping tale and the reader won’t want to look away.
Jennifer: Hi Jenni! (love the name--we are surely kindred spirits :))Thank you so much for taking part in the cover reveal! I started out as a punk in the mid-eighties, then I had a brief stint as a goth (long black and purple extensions, all-black wardrobe, the whole bit), and by the late eighties, I had become a club kid, much like Cat in WHITE LINES. I basically got paid to throw parties at clubs like Tunnel. It was crazy, as I was super young!
Sounds like you went through quite the transition in that time! What made you choose New York's lower east side for the setting of White Lines?
Cat lives on the Lower East Side because it was the neighborhood I loved best at her age. New York City used to be a very different place, super gritty and very atmospheric---the Village now is pretty cleaned up and corporate with high rental prices to match. My first apartment at 3rd and 1st was located right next to the headquarters of the Hell's Angels, and was $400 a month with no kitchen. Ah, memories :)
No kitchen? Holy smokes, I can honestly say I have never heard of a home without a kitchen. Must have been loud next to a biker gang too! So, no let's talk a bit more about you, what does you writing room look like?
I don't really have a writing room, per se. I write in bed a lot, funnily enough, and right now I'm borrowing a friend's house in Malibu to work on my next novel, SILENT ALARM, which is about a school shooting. It's bizarre, to say the least, to be writing about mass murder while staring out at an unobstructed ocean view!
That is quite the contrast, I recently read my first school shooting book and was totally engrossed in the desperation of it all, I will definitely be on the lookout for Silent Alarm! What books are currently on your to-read shelf? Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?
I'm dying to read Robin Benway's new book, AKA, which is coming out around the same time as WHITE LINES. I just finished GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn, which was suspenseful and fantastic--if you like thrillers, give it a shot! I'm just starting Barry Lyga's new novel, I HUNT KILLERS.
I really enjoyed I Hunt Killers, it was pretty dark for YA and I really appreciated that. I'll have to look into the other two as they are new to me. Finally, I'm curious to know what some of your early influences were that possibly shaped your writing style (music, books, movies etc.)?
Authors like Bret Easton Ellis really shaped me as a writer when I first started out a million years ago. LESS THAN ZERO is one of my favorite books of all time. Ditto for Joan Didion--her novel PLAY IT AS IT LAYS is a masterpiece. Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books are some of my favorite YA in the entire universe. No one writes like that woman--no one. I am in a state of awe, completely enchanted every time I open one of her books. I grew up reading the classics like A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, LITTLE WOMEN, and MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR. I'm a total movie buff, and films like David Lynch's BLUE VELVET, and, more recently, MULLHOLLAND DRIVE, continue to obsess me. One film that made a huge impact on me as a kid was Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA--I loved that the protagonist goes through the entire film nameless--and also pretty much every John Hughes movie ever made, although I am extremely partial to Sixteen Candles--Jake was a hottie!
John Hughes was definitely a great filmmaker, he had so many classics! Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!
I’M SITTING ON THE STONE STEPS at school, pretending to en¬joy an apple that I bought from an Asian grocery a few blocks over, when all I’m really thinking about is how long I have left until I can go home and start getting ready for the club, every stroke of makeup on my skin sliding me further from daylight. I tongue the white flesh and sink my teeth in, wishing the ripe fruit was the tanned blond head of one of the salad girls.
Since Manhattan Prep is housed in a brownstone and has a population of only one hundred students or fewer in the entire school, we don’t have a cafeteria. Or a prom. Or dances. Or phys ed. Instead, the Park Avenue girls buy salads at a cafeteria next door and sit in the glass atrium picking at their wilted greens, retouching their lip gloss with sticky pink wands. Even though we are all essentially weird in some way— after all, this is a school for kids who have gotten into some kind of trouble—it’s not enough to banish cliques completely. We still have the same bullshit categories as any other school: the jocks, the popular girls, the nerds. And the untouchables.
Like me. It goes without saying that nobody wants to have lunch with the weirdo who goes to clubs all the way down¬town every night, so I sit on the steps and try to pretend that it doesn’t matter, when really, I’d do just about anything to have a friend here. This silent admission makes my cheeks flush with shame. How can I be so weak? Even at Nightingale, I only ever really had Sara, her blond curls hanging over my shoulder, elaborately folded notes tossed at my feet during study hall. Somehow, it was almost enough. But here, with no one to talk to day after day, the loneliness creeps in like an old friend I no longer want to know. Worse yet, it wants to make small talk. Oh, it’s you again? How’ve you been?
Across the street, Julian, the new kid, sits on the curb in front of Ray’s Pizza, a slice dangling from one hand. As he brings the pizza to his lips, the cheese falls off in one giant greasy slide to his lap. Julian has long dark hair that hangs to his shoulders and looks as if it hasn’t made friends with soap or water in days. His skin is the color of café au lait, and there’s something about the tilt of his eyes that makes me think he’s vaguely Asian. He wears jeans so tight that I’m sure years from now he’ll be sit¬ting in some clinic with his frosty blond wife, stammering that he has no idea WHY they’ve had such a difficult time starting a family. All I know about Julian is that (a) he sits right across the aisle from me in history class, and (b) he transferred from Dalton last week after some kind of scandal involving his ex-girlfriend, and (c) he’s totally into the Ramones. He doesn’t talk to anyone, and never raises his hand in class, just stares down at his binder and scribbles what looks like pictures of Transform¬ers on the cover with a black pen.
Julian finishes scraping melted cheese off his jeans and looks up, an irritated expression clouding his face. When his eyes meet mine, I feel a rough shock of recognition between us and raise my apple core in a kind of demented greeting, the air suddenly as thick as pudding. Julian tosses me a curt nod and promptly goes back to stuffing the rest of the slice into his mouth, gnawing hungrily at the edges of the crust, watching me all the while. Even though I love staring, and I think that generally other people’s lives are way more interest¬ing than TV, I feel uneasy as Julian’s eyes lock on to mine. My face burns as he chews the last bite and brushes his hands against his black jeans before walking toward me. I turn the apple core over and over between my palms, my heart careen¬ing in my chest as he approaches, glad that my hands have something to do even if the core is damp, sticky, and turning browner by the minute. As Julian moves closer, I can’t help but notice how he shakes the hair from his eyes with one ex¬pert, jagged motion, how his hazel eyes change from green to brown in the light His skin is smooth and slightly bronzed, as if he’s just returned from some exotic locale. He tilts his chin in my direction defiantly, his eyes flicking coolly over my body, taking me in.
“See something you like?” He raises one dark eyebrow, and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust, which is what always happens when someone potentially interesting talks to me in the real world—especially if that person happens to be a guy. And up close, Julian is definitely interesting—though it makes my stomach churn spasmodically to even think the word to myself. People are dangerous, unpredictable. I know this implicitly, and every time I come into contact with them, I become a caged animal, a panther pacing back and forth behind steel bars, wary and agitated.
“Yeah,” I stammer, turning redder by the second and wish¬ing that a manhole would just open up and swallow me whole. I look down at my black boots and scramble for something to say, my brain a jumble of images, none that entirely make sense. “Your pizza—I was just . . . hungry.”
The minute the words leave my lips, I know they are the truth. My stomach begins to growl loudly as if in agreement, and I look up into Julian’s amused face and laugh, my voice echoing in the street, too loud, even with the noise of a passing bus belching a thick cloud of black smoke. As the sound vibrates through me, jolting me into the present, I realize that it’s been forever since I’ve laughed at something legitimately funny or awkward without being prompted by the ingestion of some mind-altering substance. Still, I can’t quite turn off that ever-present voice inside my head, the one that holds up an in¬visible hand to stop me from going further, from moving closer.
People are dangerous . . .
“Well,” Julian says, laughing along with me and holding out a hand, “that’s remedied easily enough. C’mon.”
I stare at his hand, the long fingers, and look into his eyes, which I can now see are flecked with gold. I toss my apple core to the concrete and take hold of him, ignoring the voice that begins, even now, to protest more loudly, whispering like a flock of ruffled birds, Don’t touch, don’t trust. I draw a deep breath and follow him blindly across the street, unsure of where I’m being taken.
I am the author of the Young Adult novel, WHITE LINES, forthcoming from G.P Putnam and Sons in April, 2013, as well as the three-book series THE ELITE, published by Berkley Jam and which includes the titles THE ELITE, IN TOO DEEP, and SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, or just to say hi!
As part of the reveal of White Lines Penguin/Putnam is giving away 1 ARC of White Lines by Jennifer Banash here on the blog! This giveaway is open internationally (as long as UPS ships to your address) and will end at 12:01 AM on July 27!