A couple of weeks ago, inspired by the relationships in Goddess Interrupted by Aimée Carter, we asked you to write about everyone’s favorite people: exes. They’re such a fun bunch, right? The ex-boyfriend who won’t leave you alone. The ex-girlfriend of your new boyfriend . . . whose name pops up on his cell with worrying frequency. The ex-girlfriend about whom you always wonder: was she the one that got away? These sorts of relationships are rife with drama, and they provided the perfect platform for some outstanding Fig stories.
Well, the top ten were sent to Aimée and her editor for judging. Aimée’s editor is Mary-Theresa Hussey (also known as Matrice). She says reading YA titles helps keep her young. As well as working with Aimée Carter, she works with other Harlequin Teen authors Rachel Vincent, Maria V. Snyder, and Jordan Dane. She read her first Harlequin series titles when she was eleven—and continues to love the variety and passion in all that they do!
Check out the winners and editor’s comments below, and click through to the stories to get the full perspective!
First Place: That Hateful, Wonderful Ex of Paul’s by Cassie Rose
Aimée says: This story creeped me out, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. It really stuck with me long after I’d read it. I love the way the afterlife is described–it’s so eerie, and I had a vivid idea of what it felt like to be there. The main character is unsympathetic, and I really enjoyed that too–at first I wasn’t sure who to root for, but the more I read, the more I realized that it was really the ghost who was the “hero” of the story. Her sacrifice was gut-wrenching. Great job!
Matrice says: First off, big props for correct usage of “just deserts”—love it when people use the proper spelling! I like the present tense usage—makes it more immediate. Also some great images—“crunching the salt” and “She engulfs me, swirling like a windless tornado” and “her particles dispersing slowly.”
Interesting choices that neither of the girls have a name, Paul is the only one we know. Yet both are willing to risk everything for him. Even the title shows the conflict in ideas and story and bringing an emotional, swirling moment of confusion to the reader.
Congrats, Cassie! You will receive copies of Aimée Carter’s Goddess Interrupted and The Goddess Test . . . PLUS Julie Kagawa’s entire Iron Fey series—including a signed copy of The Iron Knight!—and a copy of Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.
Second Place: The Party of the Exes by Taylor
Aimée says: This is the main character who felt the most “real” to me. I could easily see her as a real person, and she wasn’t afraid to stick to her guns even in the face of enormous peer pressure. But of course, in the end, she decides this guy isn’t worth it, and it feels like she does it for HER, not because a bunch of other girls have told her she has to. What happened to her–getting involved with a guy who’s only interested in her for the sake of his own popularity–was presented in a unique and interesting way, and I love that she sticks up for herself.
Matrice says: I really enjoyed this story. The heroine’s optimism, confidence and certainty that she was different from all the others made her an appealing character. Even though she was aware of his past behavior, she stood her ground against his exes. And then there was a great twist at the end when she realized she wasn’t so special. I did wonder why she would put her number on the list if it was for Jasper’s exes. Was she already thinking ahead? Wouldn’t she want to cross out all the others to clean the slate?
Third Place: Crossroads by Ami Chan
Aimée says: The writing in this is terrific, and while I’m normally not a fan of second person, I really enjoyed this story. It felt real, the uneasiness between the two couples, the small details like Andrea taking Danny’s hand under the table, Danny trying to one-up Jacob, etc. It was a quiet story, but I loved the simplicity of it and the impact it had on Danny. It felt very true to life, and I enjoyed that.
Matrice says: I enjoyed the almost poetic language in the opening language. And the idea of having a guarded heart that slowly opens and the fear of loving and losing.
There were a lot of understated things, but Danny was an appealing narrator and I was rooting for him to win and feel confident again in the relationship.
Fourth Place: A Million Words by Grace F
Aimée says: I very much liked the way we see Elizabeth through Penny’s eyes, the idea of this ideal girl being reduced to something genuine through her loss. While we don’t have much of an idea of who Penny is, I enjoyed trying to figure her out through the way she sees Elizabeth. The description in this story is very nice, and the words were heavy, going nicely with the weight of their grief. The idea of two girls bonding over a mutual loss, and Penny seeing Elizabeth as a real person for it, was intriguing to read.
Matrice says: Some great images here as well—“yellow tulips that stretched their limbs into the sunlight”—and a sense of loss and longing that permeates. It’s just a snapshot in time, but I was left a bit puzzled by who Penny was. We see Elizabeth clearly through her eyes, but I’m not sure who Penny was in this relationship, or how David balanced or chose between them. A lot is left unsaid, and it is an evocative story of loss and yearning.
I also enjoyed the misdirection in the setup, and I like that the author wasn’t afraid to make Michael cry and express his grief, going against the stereotype. The lack of setting initially was jarring, but it added to the impact of the twist, finding out that Marissa is dead. Jenna’s jealousy even during such a terrible time also felt realistic, and I loved that she wasn’t so “perfect” as to not bring it up. It was refreshing and made her more relatable. “I’m not your second choice or something, right?” stuck out for me as the core conflict in the story, and it was nicely delivered.
Congrats to all of the winners and thanks to everyone who participated!