Sophomore Spotlight: Christa Desir

I'm very excited today to have Christa Desir here on the blog to chat about her new release, Bleed Like Me.

First, a bit about the book:
Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir.

Published: October 7, 2014.
Published by: Simon Pulse.

Goodreads Synopsis:
From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

And now, welcome Christa!

Jess: Let's start with something relatively easy: Describe your Sophomore novel, Bleed Like Me, in a tweet (140 characters or less).
Christa: Take one hot mess of a girl plus one hot mess of guy, mix them together in a really unhealthy way. Welcome to the crap salad.

J: BLM seems, from the synopsis, to deal with a destructive relationship and self harm -- how did you approach writing this (especially as relationships of this kind seem very under-represented in YA) and what tools, if any, did you use?
C: Well, I had seen quite a few books where messed up people got together and their love for each other pulled them out of their individual messes. And it really didn’t work for me that way as a teenager and I suspect it doesn’t work that way for other teenagers so I wanted to write a book where things didn’t get better by being in love with someone, but in fact got way worse. So that was the launching place for my research, I was very driven by an interest in what co-dependent relationships really looked and felt like.

J: Interesting. As much as I love "happily ever afters" because they're such a great escape, I'm glad people like you are writing stories with that element of tough truth as well. 
What do you hope readers take away from reading BLM?
C: Honestly, I have no “take away” agenda for readers. That’s not really my job as a fiction writer. Mostly I hope that it leaves them asking questions about healthy love and the choices we make and how we can hurt each other when we don’t take enough time to love ourselves first. But that’s pretty ambitious since all I really did was tell a story about two characters I thought were interesting—though I wouldn’t mind if people walk away from it being glad they read it.

J: How did the journey for this book differ from that for your debut, Fault Line?
C: Well, it was quite a bit different because Fault Line came out of a rape survivor testimonial writing workshop and the idea for that book was always to hopefully start a dialogue about sexual assault and help fund more survivor writing workshops. Bleed Like Me is informed by my experiences as a teenager, but it’s personal in a different way than Fault Line was. With Fault Line, I had to “come out” again as a rape survivor (although FL is not my survivor story). With BLM, I feel like I have a little more breathing room not to have my own life so tied into what that book is about. 

J: Did you change anything about your writing process for BLM after having had the experience of writing your debut?
C: Well, I actually had BLM written before I even sold FAULT LINE so my writing process was the same for that book as what it is for all my books: become obsessed with a character/characters, ignore everyone in my life until I get my characters’ story told, then spend several months adding setting and physical description and all the other stuff that I fail to include in my first drafts. Then spend several months after that making things up to my family/friends after being subhuman while I was writing.

J: Wow, that's dedication! And I'm sure your family and friends understand when they see what comes out of all that hard work. 
I know that you're a rape victim activist (thank you so much for your work, by the way), which likely had a bigger impact on Fault Line, but did your activism work influence BLM?
C: My activism, my politics, my feminism are pretty much all over my books. It’s hard not to have them impact my writing because they’re so much a part of who I am. So in the case of BLM, I have opinions about what teen girls sacrifice for this mystical notion of love, how they can lose themselves because they’ve been sold a bill of goods from the moment they’re born about how their value is determined only in relationship to the men in their lives. And I want girls to be able to stand on their own and love themselves enough not to need validation from a guy to believe they’re worth something. So yeah…I guess you could say my activism is in there :)

J: I have to admit that I'm really glad to hear that, especially the way you put it there. :)
You write contemporary with very dark but real (and undoubtedly important) themes. Is this the kind of book you think you'll stick to in your writing or do you ever want to try something different as well?
C: I don’t think I set out to write “issue” books. I have written other things and hope to do more of it. But the reality is, I don’t think I could write “light-hearted” books when it comes to YA. Other people do that much better than I ever could. For me, I like to push boundaries and ask questions and make people uncomfortable enough that they have to really think. I don’t really care what genre it falls in, the end game is still the same to me.

J: Do you listen to music while you write/edit? If so, can you share one song you listened to a lot while working on BLM?
C: I don’t listen while I’m writing, but I listen while I walk my dog in preparation of sitting down to write/edit. BLM was probably most informed by Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” and Sia’s “Breathe Me”.

J: Oh, I love Breathe Me. Such a great song. And I think those probably give some good insight into BLM, if I'm not mistaken.
In keeping with our theme here, are there any other sophomore releases you've either loved recently or are looking forward to?
C: Yes, I loved loved loved Carrie Mesrobian’s PERFECTLY GOOD WHITE BOY, also Sarah McCarry’s DIRTY WINGS, Steph Kuehn’s COMPLICIT and John Corey Whaley’s NOGGIN. And the sophomore book that I’m most looking forward to is Julie Murphy’s DUMPLIN’.

J: You have excellent taste, Christa! I can't wait to get to COMPLICIT because I was blown away by CHARM & STRANGE.
Can you share anything about your next project?
C: Yes, we actually just announced it, although I’ve been in edits on it for months. It’s currently called TWELVE and it’s about an alcoholic girl boxer who gets in a complicated relationship with a 38yo recovering addict. It comes out from Simon Pulse in January 2016.

J: Wow. That's one I'll definitely watch for. Thank you again,Christa!

Buy Bleed Like Me: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Chapters Indigo // IndieBound // The Book Depository

Christa has kindly offered up a finished copy of Bleed Like Me to one lucky US winner! Enter by leaving a comment about why you want to read Bleed Like Me or responding to part of the interview. Make sure you leave some way for me to contact you in your comment (email address, twitter handle, etc.). Giveaway ends Tuesday, October 21st, so get your entries in by Monday night!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the continental US only (void where prohibited).
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted. The winner has 48 hours to respond, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Christa and I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!


  1. I would like to read BLEED LIKE ME, because I work in mental health and am beginning my master's degree in the same (Counseling for Clinical Mental Health) and I'd love to gobble up Christa's "crap salad," given I must read everything by her after reading and loving her debut, FAULT LINE. Also, I give reviews for books I win, just saying.

  2. Some of my favorite authors such as Jodi Picoult write "issue books." Sometimes I like to read novels that are difficult b/c of the subject matter and what the characters go through.

    This book sounds intense and I would love to read it. I'm adding Fault Lines to my TBR list too. Thanks for introducing me to this new-to-me author.


  3. I would like to read it cause it sounds awesome and interesting.
    Can i enter please?

  4. First of all, once I first heard about this book I just knew I had to read it. When I read the synopsis, it made me feel a pang in my heart because truthfully some of it sounds relatable to my life. But not only that, I have to be honest about a weird habit of mine. Whenever I find a book with a girl named Amelia, I have to read it. I have no idea, its just this thing of mine. anyway, yeah. email is skittles2116@gmail.com

  5. this sounds so amazing!!! want to read this so bad!


I'd love to hear what you think!