Author Jessica Bayliss gushes about her new novel, Ten After Closing. Wouldn’t you, if you had a book with such a great title?
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
Many of my books start out as concepts that I’m writing for my YA self. Back in the day, I loved thrillers and anything paranormal/horror.
I LOVED the movie Toy Soldiers, which was also a book, though I didn’t know it at that time. I watched the movie back before I started writing Ten After, and OMG, it was still so good. The thing that was always missing for me, though, was female characters. It took place at a boarding school for boys. So, I decided to write a book that contained all those deliciously tense moments I loved in Toy Soldiers that also added the swoony romance I felt was missing.
Winny and Scott come from different backgrounds, but both are in a similar situation at the start of the book—both have really big decisions in front of them, and they’re struggling to feel empowered to make those decisions and take action.
Winny is stuck in a passive place—she’s let her parents decide much of her path thus far, going with the flow for so long, she isn’t sure how to shift out of that mode.
Scott’s been quite active in trying to change his situation, but he’s struggling to see that the way he’s going about it isn’t working. Both are thinking about how others will respond if they put their needs first and are fearful of being assertive.
Of course, the life-changing hostage situation at Café Flores impacts how they see things. I really wanted to show them coming to new decisions by the end of TAC, but I can’t say any more without spoilers.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
This is a fast-paced hostage thriller, so I hope readers can’t stop turning pages. But, after all the violence that has happened in recent years, particularly centering on teenagers, I also wanted to show a teen character who is in pain and has a chance to use violence as his means of revenge but who opts for a different route.
I wanted to highlight the theme of abuse and, in particular, the perpetration of abuse across generations. As a psychologist, I work with trauma survivors daily, including people whose trauma situations, sometimes, involve things they’ve done that they deeply regret—they often have immense shame and anger, and they carry that, even when it’s not theirs to bear.
Obviously, I’m talking about Scott’s story here. I really wanted to show him wrestling with the idea of letting go of the anger and blame he’s placing elsewhere, because that’s what will allow him to let go of the anger, blame, and sense of paralyzing responsibility he places on himself that isn’t his to bear.
It’s about letting go of the darkness that fuels the painful emotions so that there is room for the good ones. Though this never pardons the person who’s hurt us, the process is healing. Forgiveness CAN BE for the person who’s hurt us, but it’s ALWAYS for ourselves. Therefore, it’s also a story of forgiveness and a story about how we really aren’t as different from our enemies as we think. Finally, it’s a love story, so I hope readers will enjoy some swoony romance. Continue reading