Author: Mimi Cross
Publication Date: January 1, 2016
Author: Mimi Cross
Publication Date: January 1, 2016
Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.
Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.
As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again
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What inspired you to write this novel?The initial spark of inspiration came from a song by a friend of mine called Obvious. Patti sent the song to me right after I started my music blog, and I fell in love with it. The song is about a crush, the kind where you’re so smitten that you’re literally dumbstruck. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted the song.
After listening to it a few times, I started thinking about that kind of crush, because it feels so important, that kind of fascination, and yet you’re so infatuated that you can’t communicate. I started to imagine the person who might be experiencing this; started imagining the girl in the song, who, after a while, became a girl in my head. Over time, I began to realize that this girl’s problem wasn’t an ordinary case of awkwardness, of being tongue-tied, that she was really struggling to express herself, and not just to this guy. Finding the right words—that was the center of this girl’s story. The girl in my head became Cate, and her personal arc became about finding her voice, literally.
I also wondered, what if Cate never got the chance to tell this guy how she felt? And, I wondered, what if she was confused about the way she felt? What if she was wrong? These ideas came into play as well as Cate’s story took shape and became Before Goodbye.
How long did it take you to write this novel?Before Goodbye actually began as a NaNoWriMo manuscript, so I guess you could say I wrote the first draft in a month! But that’s not accurate, because the story has changed so much since then. It really took a couple of years to get it where it was supposed to be.
If your novel had a theme song what would it be?
The easy answer is “Hotel Vast Horizon” by Chris Whitley. The song was a huge inspiration for the book, eventually even more so than the song that my friend sent. For Cate, and then David, and also for David’s sister, the song’s title alone becomes a metaphor that’s integral to their stories. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A43HElpQR14
But the question is also a tough one to answer, because music is such a vital part of Before Goodbye. The playlist I compiled while writing the book has 50 songs on it, several of which aren’t actually songs, but pieces of composed music. At one point the list had over seventy songs/pieces! Plus, there are numerous songs and compositions mentioned throughout the book. Quite a few of them would work as the theme.
Like “Paradise” by Coldplay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKcxhQZxvdw This live version especially, so big and emotional, with the crowd participation/entrainment, and the band working so hard, sweating . . . For me this is Cate, waking up to her life, to her feelings for David. But “Paradise” is also Cal, because he plays this song in Before Goodbye, although the version in the book doesn’t exist, as far as I know. It’s close to this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZLbmHDR2F4 although in my imaginary version, Cal’s version, there would be a classical guitarist in place of one of the violinists.
Imogen Heap’s song “Lifeline” was also really important to me while I was writing Before Goodbye. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_SqU-Ys3-0 It’s weird, because tonight while answering these questions, I went to You Tube to find a link for it, and I see now that the song starts with a match striking. All this time, I thought that first sound in the song was someone dropping a needle on a record. The vocal is gorgeous, and I think of it as Cate’s voice, the one that finally makes it out of her head and onto the stage. “Lifeline” has an urgency that helped propel Cate’s story out of my head, and onto the page, in much the same way.
What does your writing space look like?My current writing space has a lot of light. Sliding glass doors let in the outside. I can just see the ocean from out on the deck—it’s about a block away. I can hear the waves crashing . . .
Mimi Cross was born in Toronto, Canada. She received an MA from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in music from Ithaca College. She has been a performer, a music educator, and a yoga instructor. During the course of her musical career, she’s shared the bill with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Sting. She resides in New Jersey by the beach.