by Danielle Simmons
Genre: YA/NA Romance
Release Date: November 2018
When five friends come home from college for the summer, it feels as if the friendship that has bound them together since childhood, is stronger than ever. But when Laney Thomas wakes up two months later and discovers she is the sole survivor of an accident that has claimed the lives of three friends, Laney realizes the world she has awakened, is not the one she remembers. The loss is devastating, changing her life irrevocably, and with no recollection of the accident or the days leading up to it, Laney must rely on Evan Davies, the only one not in the car that night, to help her heal. The two have always been close, sharing a rare and inextricable bond, and as long as he is by her side, the emptiness won’t swallow her whole. But when Evan disappears from her life without explanation, Laney is forced into her memories of the past, learning the painful truth of the friendships she cherished, and love coveted.
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I’ve always been intrigued by memories and their power. As I get older, the ability of music, specifically, in connecting me to a time or place, has gotten very, very powerful. I think its natural, as we get further and further away from our younger years, and life adds on more responsibilities, that we yearn for the days when things were simpler. For me, music brings me to those times. Music was such a huge part of my childhood – and now, it has become a big part of my children’s childhood, that I am now adding the connection of memories of earlier days with them, to music’s power. This is bittersweet because of course, it means we are getting older.
When I turned 40, I had a major pendulum shift in how I approach life. I try to worry less about capturing the perfect moment in a picture and instead live in those moments, so that I can remember them years from now. Pictures are great to capture a memory, but remembering the feel of the sun, the sound if birds overhead, the feel of my kid’s hand in mine…those are irreplaceable moments that I want to remember as much, and as fully, as I can.
Memories are to me, one of the greatest gifts we can ever have, and that’s where the idea for EVOKE came from. The power of my childhood memories – the experience of friendships in a small town and the impact losing a friend at an early age can have on one’s heart (experienced this a few times, unfortunately) – and wanting to put that to words in a story that may connect with others. I am also fascinated by the human brain and how it can be a protector of sorts, in blocking out memories that may be too much for us to handle. I have also experienced this, short term memory loss by way of concussion after an accident, and memory loss due to alcohol consumption (and in the case of the latter, the incident attached to that situation can stay forever buried as far as I’m concerned). In re: to my concussion, it was an unfortunate accident that resulted in me forgetting the softball game I played that day – which also happened to be one of my best games. Innocent memory lost, but still a part of me I would like back. I tried to draw from this – the desire of wanting a lost memory back and the dichotomy of also being okay with a memory being forever gone – in writing Laney’s story.
In EVOKE, I really liked the idea of using the power of childhood memories, to also tell us more about Laney’s friends she so dearly loved and the impact their deaths may have on her. In showing through her own eyes, how special and big a part of her life those friends were, it would underscore the steadfastness of her mind, in wanting to protect her from the memory of what happened the night of the accident that claimed their lives and left her in a coma.
I know memory loss can be a troupe in YA novels, but I am really hoping readers fall in love with EVOKE, and don’t hold it against Laney or Evan, haha.
About the Author
Danielle grew up in a small town in California’s Sierra Nevada Foothills. A voracious reader from an early age, she began writing poetry and short stories in elementary school, and continued that passion throughout high school and college. She studied literature, creative writing and communications at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, sons and two cats, where she is a PR executive by day, and writer by night.
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