Tour Post: 17 First Kisses

As part of the 17 First Kisses tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club I have a pretty cool guest post of you. This is everything you need to know about 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen and how she writes a strong female lead.


by Rachael Allen

Pages: 319 (paperback)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 17th 2014
ISBN: 0062281348


No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.
Until Claire meets Luke.
But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.
With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.
In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.

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About Rachael 

Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA where she's working furiously on her PhD in neuroscience. When she's not doing science or writing YA, you can find her chasing after her toddler and her two sled dogs. Her debut YA novel 17 FIRST KISSES, is forthcoming from Harper Teen. Rachael may or may not have had 17 first kisses...luckily she doesn't kiss and tell.

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Creating a Strong Female Lead
by Rachael Allen

When I create a female lead, I try to do two things:

1)   Make her someone I love and want to be friends with
2)   Make her flawed

And there are other smaller things I do, and character-building questions to help me wrap my head around all the details that make someone feel real as a character, but it really boils down to those two things.

A fabulous example of the kind of character you immediately want to make BFF bracelets for is Anna from Stephanie Perkins’ ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I love Anna so much that sometimes she turns into the yardstick by which I measure my characters. Does her voice pop like Anna’s? Am I dying to be friends with her the way I am with Anna? Is she as funny/charming/smart/feisty/strong/awesome as Anna? That doesn’t mean I think Claire is just like Anna or that I think all female leads should be just like her, but the feeling of wishing someone was real so you could be their friend? That’s what I shoot for.

Now, on the other hand, if you make someone so likable that they have zero flaws, well, that’s just boring. Regina from Courtney Summers’ SOME GIRLS ARE is a great example of a character who has more issues than a bag full of cats, but you can’t help loving anyway. (Side note: My favorite example from a TV show is Santana from Glee – I adore her!)

I love writing (and reading and watching) characters who make mistakes and have dark pasts because those are the things that make me want to find out more about a person. So Claire definitely makes mistakes and has cringe-worthy moments, but I think those moments are what make her real. They’re the moments where she gives me something to root for: to fix a friendship she took for granted or to keep a toxic boy from hurting her again.

The toughest part, for me anyway, is achieving the perfect balance of these two things. Sometimes I push so hard for the flaws that I wonder, is anyone going to like this character? (I wondered this quite a lot with Megan, LOL.) But in the end, these are the kinds of characters I want to read about and these are the kinds of risks I’m willing to take.

I hope you guys will love Claire in spite of her flaws, just like I do!

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