Today, Meredith Goldstein stops by to talk about what surprised her while writing her new book Chemistry Lessons — then keep reading for more about the book and your chance to win a copy as part of the official blog tour!
From the start, I knew that my first YA novel, Chemistry Lessons, would be very romantic.
The book – which was inspired by my day job (I’m the love advice columnist at The Boston Globe) – is about a recent high school grad, Maya, who uses science to manipulate her love life after a terrible breakup.
Maya uses pheromone research to see if she can increase and maintain attraction with a series of subjects. I wanted her experiments to be thoughtful and academic — but for her story, at times, to be very, very swoony.
But as a writer, I had a problem.
I was having trouble seeing the Boston and Cambridge area – where I live and where the book is set – as a romantic place. My day job requires me to read about relationship problems and breakups all day. I was beginning to see my own town as a setting for heartache, as opposed to amazing first dates and first kisses. It was a new kind of writer’s block. I wanted the story to be set around MIT, but … could love really happen there?
I wanted to believe. So over the course of a few months, I walked around Boston and Cambridge, and, for the first time in years, I really looked. I thought about Maya and what she might see on the way to her lab internship every day. I considered where good first dates happen, and if I were a teen, where I would want to meet a new love.
The thing is, when you live somewhere for years, you can forget to notice the beauty of your own neighborhood. But all of a sudden, I was examining the scenery and loving everything I saw. There’s a super-cool chocolate factory on Main Street in Cambridge where you can smell the production of Junior Mints (this is a real place!). There’s also beautiful Boston Common, where you can see big outdoor Shakespeare productions while sitting on a blanket with friends. And I love Jamaica Pond, one of the most peaceful walks in near my house.
With clear eyes, I found myself surprised. Shocked! My city is the perfect place for romance. How had I missed it?
Thanks to Chemistry Lessons and my character Maya, I now see Boston and Cambridge as a place where love can bloom.
It’s a good thing for me and, more importantly, my advice column readers. They deserve a good dose of optimism. Now I can give it to them.
From advice columnist Meredith Goldstein, a dazzling, romantic, and emotionally resonant YA debut about a teen science whiz in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who tries to crack the chemical equation for lasting love and instead wreaks havoc on herself and the boys in her life.
For seventeen-year-old Maya, the equation for happiness is simple: a dream internship at MIT + two new science nerd friends + a perfect boyfriend = one amazing summer. Then Whit dumps her out of the blue. Maya is miserable until she discovers that her scientist mother, before she died, was conducting research on manipulating pheromones to enhance human attraction. If Maya can finish her mother’s work, maybe she can get Whit back. But when her experiment creates chaos in her love life, she realizes that maybe love and loss can’t be understood using the scientific method. Can she learn to trust the unmeasurables of love and attraction instead?
In March of 2016, Grand Central Publishing acquired a memoir based on her column, Love Letters. It is scheduled to be released by Spring of 2018.
Meredith was born in New Jersey, raised in Maryland, went to Syracuse University, and now lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts with a carnival-size cotton candy machine that she bought for herself on her 30th birthday.
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