Cheyanne Young is a native Texan with a love of coffee, collecting nail polish and writing books for young adults. Her compulsively readable breakout novel The Last Wish of Sasha Cade offers abiding friendship and forbidden romance and is set for release on October 2nd, 2018 from KCP Loft.
I’ve never come across a scavenger hunt quite like the one in The Last Wish of Sasha Cade. Where did the idea for this book come from?
The idea came to me all at once in this crazy epic brain explosion of ideas that will probably never happen again, sadly. I knew I wanted to write a book about two very loyal best friends who would never hurt or betray each other. But, two friends with no drama doesn’t make for a good book… so, sadly, one of them had to die. As soon as I realized that, the rest of the story just hit me. I don’t even remember how I knew there needed to be a secret boy and a scavenger hunt, I just did. Honestly, that never happens! Every book I’ve written before and after this has been like pulling teeth.
Raquel goes on a lot of little adventures in The Last Wish of Sasha Cade. Have you ever been on a little adventure in the name of writing?
Not on purpose, although, I would love to travel for story ideas. Most of my adventures start out as regular adventures and halfway through them, I think, “This would make a great book idea.” Then, I’ll spend the rest of my day looking at everything in a different, more inspiring light.
Have you always been a fan of the YA contemporary genre? What makes it so special to you now? Have you ever considered writing in another genre?
Yes! I was an avid reader as a kid and as a teenager. I often feel like I never really grew up because I still prefer YA books over everything else. I’ve read several “adult” books with adult characters and storylinesm and it just doesn’t give me the same wonderful feeling as reading a YA book. I kept thinking that as I got older, I’d change, but I’m 32 now and there’s no end in sight for my love of YA. As for contemporary, it’s where I feel most at home. It takes a lot for me to like a fantasy YA book, and every time I read something other than contemporary, I feel a little out of place. (The exception being Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which is the BEST BOOK EVER.)
The Last Wish of Sasha Cade deals with a lot of difficult topics. What was the hardest part about writing it? What was the easiest?
The hardest part was the crying. Seriously. Buckets of tears. I will cry right now if I think about certain scenes. These characters are completely made up, existing only in my own mind, and yet they feel so real to me that having Sasha die and then writing about her memories with her best friend was very painful. It was unlike any other writing experience I’ve ever had. I often cried over my keyboard while writing. On the flipside, this book felt so real to me that I wrote the entire thing in only 27 days. That was the easy part – letting this story fall out of my fingertips. I think I really wanted to get to the ending where everything would be a little better and less painful.
Memories are integral to the plot of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade. What’s your favorite memory as a writer?
This might sound crazy but my favorite memory as a writer is back when I started writing my first book. It was about 10 years ago, and I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and just really excited to create my own story after reading hundreds of books in my life. There was no pressure, no deadlines, no expectations and no knowledge of the real world of publishing. I had no idea how hard it would be, how much my first attempts would suck. That was the beauty of it. I was unaware and totally ecstatic to be writing. Now, it’s a lot different. I’m more judgmental, more of a perfectionist and more aware of how very hard it is to get a book deal. I often wish I could go back to those beginning days.
I love Sasha’s taste in movies. Did movies like Ever After, The Princess Bride, Mean Girls, and Harry Potter inspire or influence THE LAST WISH OF SASHA CADE in any way?
Thank you for saying that! I seem to remember a certain professional book review that skewered my choice of movies, so… yeah. Thank you. Sasha’s favorite movies are, simply put, my favorite movies. They’re “classics” in Sasha’s world, movies she would have watched as a kid that stuck with her throughout her teenage years. I think they show her romantic side and how she loved being in a fairy tale, which probably influenced the great gift she left behind when she died.
Readers are left with a lot to think about after reading The Last Wish of Sasha Cade. Did you learn anything from writing it?
This book was about friendship, the real and true kind of friendship that never leaves you. I learned that I could write a friendship and have it be just as emotional and heart-wrenching as a romance. This was inspiring to me, because I often feel like romance is the only plot line a reader will enjoy, and that’s simply not true. It made me want to write more friendship books. (But, of course, there will always be a cute love interest in them!)
What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any future projects we should be excited about?
My agent and I are currently trying to get a book deal for my next book, called Before You Wake. It’s another YA contemporary that focuses more on friendship and less on romance, but there’s also a swoony guy character that I loved creating. His character is a little bit like Sasha — not dead, but, not always present in the story. I really hope to share it with readers soon, and I promise it won’t make you cry like this book did!