The summer is here, y’all, and it was about time we got a beautiful YA novel about a cute summer trip with best friends to lovers trope. You are lucky because Kasie West did her thing and just released the perfect novel, Places We’ve Never Been. After Kasie wrapped us around her fingers with the ideal summer release, Sunkissed, last year, we knew we could trust her this summer, too, and you know, she didn’t disappoint us at all. And good news, we got to talk to Kasie West about Places We’ve Never Been. So, if you haven’t ordered the book yet, scroll down, and we bet you will right away after reading this interview!
Welcome to The Honey POP, and we are so excited to interview you! For those new to the beautiful world of Kasie West, could you please introduce yourself? But let’s do it your way. What is one thing you want to try but have never done, one thing you yearn to learn, and what is a place you want to go, but you’ve never been to?
Hello! Thank you so much for having me. I love these get-to-know-you questions. Let’s see, one thing I want to try but have yet to is skydiving. I don’t know that I ever will do that because I’m terrified of heights. I do like to push myself, but that seems like a big push. As for yearning, I’m really good at that. I yearn for many things, like chocolate-covered cinnamon bears or chai tea. I’m pretty dramatic like that. Something big that I yearn to learn is how to fly a plane. I really really want to do that. I mean, it only takes tons of time and money, so I’m not sure it’s a realistic yearning, but a yearning nonetheless. A place I really want to travel to but haven’t yet is Banff. Have you seen pictures of Banff? It almost looks fake. I need to go and find out.
You have said that writing romance novels is your happy place, and we absolutely love reading romance by you. In Places We’ve Never Been, we see childhood friends to enemies to best friends to lovers trope, but what is one trope that you absolutely love?
I’m a sucker for so many tropes. I sometimes say I haven’t met a trope I don’t like. But that’s not quite true. There are a couple that isn’t exactly my favorite. My absolute fav, though? Probably fake dating… or friends to lovers… or anonymous letter/text/email writing… or… seriously, I could go on and on. This is why I write contemporary because I love most of the conflicts involved in getting a couple together.
The travel map of this book is inspired by the road trips you have taken with your husband over the years. Was there a beautiful memory of yours that you couldn’t help yourself but put on this novel?
Ooh, that’s a good question. I wish I had an interesting answer. The truth is, I rarely put real-life experiences (at least not ones I know of) in my books. It’s kind of just the tone or feel of all my travels bundled together. I will say that one of my favorite scenes from the book takes place on top of the RV, under the desert sky. And there are many times when I’m camping or traveling at night when I just sit in awe and stare at the sky that exists away from our cities and towns. It is such an amazing sight and one of my favorites.
There were really iconic landmarks mentioned in this book, and we can’t help but want to see them up close, but we need advice from you! Where we should absolutely see among the places, you have mentioned in Places We’ve Never Been?
I love them all, but my favorite is probably Zion. I just love The Narrows. If you haven’t seen smooth red/orange/brown rock walls rising up on either side of you in a glorious display of nature, put it on your bucket list. It’s truly a beautiful sight.
Your characters, in general, and in this book, too, are very relatable. It almost feels like we know them in real life! What is your process as you are coming up with such likable characters?
I think good natural dialogue is key in making characters feel real. There is nothing like stilted, unnatural dialogue to pull you out of the story. Really smoothing out and reworking dialogue is probably what I spend the most time on in a book. I go through scenes several times over until the interactions feel natural. And then, of course, it’s important to make sure each character has some strengths but also some weaknesses like we all do.
Oh, how many times we wished to be in “the teen RV!” Can you give us a three-song playlist that we would possibly hear in the teen RV? What would our teenagers listen to during the trip?
Okay, okay, I got you. How about we start with something funky and upbeat and a little bit left of normal with Miniature Tigers. Then we’ll go more mainstream and super angsty and fun with some: Olivia Rodrigo. And finally, some good old classic rock (brought to you by the RV driver himself, because “I’m driving and get to add to the playlist too”) with Queen. And no, I didn’t pick a specific song from any of these artists because I’m a fan of so many of their songs, and each person has their own favorite, so of course, we’ll listen to several of them.
Travel novels are a huge part of American literature, and you absolutely did an amazing job giving us the same feeling but even better with YA elements. Do you have any travel novels that inspired you to write Places We’ve Never Been?
Two of my very faves from the last decade are Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. I love those two so much. I rarely reread books, but those are two I could read over and over.
In Places We’ve Never Been, we adored the idea of Norah and Skyler’s notebook, and actually, that was what brought them together back. Do you have any comfort items like our characters’ notebook?
I love to read poetry. It soothes my soul. And song lyrics (which are poetry, aren’t they?) can really bring me peace. So listening to music, but specifically listening to the lyrics of music, is always a go-to comfort activity for me. Also…. Candy Crush. LOL really. It occupies my brain without taking over my brain. It’s what I often do when I’m stressed or just needing some time away from my own thoughts.
Yes, we loved Norah and Skyler so much, but there was also another character that we absolutely adored: Paisley! What inspired you to write such a stand-out and hilarious character like her?
Aw. I’m so happy you loved Paisley. She was so fun to write to. Like a lot of my characters throughout my books, Paisley was inspired by growing up in a big family and now being part of an even bigger family. I have four siblings, and my husband has five. You can imagine between the two of us, we have loads of nieces and nephews and loads of super fun personalities. Paisley helped me bring in the feel of what it’s like to have a younger sister around. It can be both fun and, at times, frustrating and at times hilarious, and at times over the top. And I love it.
We fell in love with your writing once again with Places We’ve Never Been, especially after Sunkissed, and of course, we want more! What should we expect from you in the future? Do you have new sweet YA incoming already for us?
I absolutely do! I have two more books under contract right now. The next will come out in 2023 (probably May) and then another the following year. I’m working hard on those right now and can’t wait to share more details over the coming year. I can say the first book involves a catfish gone the wrong scenario where the MC has to save the day. It is a fun little twist on fake dating that I think you’re going to love.
Don’t forget to order Places We’ve Never Been here!
It was absolutely so fun to talk with Kasie West, and you all definitely should read Places We’ve Never Been this summer! What other Kasie West YAs you like? Have you ordered Places We’ve Never Been yet? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP! You can also visit us on Facebook and Instagram!
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