I feel like Kasie West is starting to become an auto-buy author for me. Her books leave me feeling good and swooning all day long! I love West’s writing style and I always feel like her characters are so relatable and lovable. The characters in Kasie West’s new book, Sunkissed, are not the exception. And today, May 4th 2021, Sunkissed is out in the world!
A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined… and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!
After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.
But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.
I think this book is the perfect summer read—especially in the middle of this pandemic! If you like young adult romance, I am sure Sunkissed will steal your heart. This contemporary read is being compared to the movie Dirty Dancing because of the combination of a summer family trip, an annoying little sister, and the love interest in the camp.
The main character, Avery, was betrayed by her best friend and her boyfriend. Even though she’s not too thrilled about going to the camp with her family, it turns out to be a great distraction to recover from her heartache. Music is an essential part of the story! The author shows this when Avery meets Brooks; he is part of a band that performs at the camp and he is the one who mainly incorporates music into the story. Although romance is the main subject in this book, we also get to see family relationships, which was another one of my favorite parts of Sunkissed.
Avery and her sister, Lauren, made me think of the different stages of interactions in my relationship with both of my sisters. This is why I say Kasie West’s characters always feel relatable. Not every author can achieve that! Besides their relationship, you get to see them learning and growing within the story. So if you are looking for a great romance that includes family relationships, be sure to check out Sunkissed!
Interview with Kasie West
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
About me…aside from the whole writing thing? ;) This is the question my professors would ask sometimes at the beginning of the semester and I would panic as it got closer and closer to my turn because I couldn’t think of anything both interesting and mysterious to say about myself. I guess that panic reaction hasn’t changed. Lol But, I will suck it up and try my hardest to be both interesting and not at all mysterious. I have four kids, most of them grown, but all of them still occupy nearly all of the worry and love emotions that exist in me. They are awesome. For fun I like to binge television shows and eat crap I shouldn’t. I enjoy waterfalls but don’t like the part where I have to hike to see them, but I suck it up and do that part anyway because I like them so much. I also like reading in hammocks.
And now, tell us a little bit about Sunkissed.
Sunkissed is my nod to Dirty Dancing and summer camp all rolled into one. It’s about a girl who spends the summer at a remote camp with her family where she has to discover who she is without the internet. There she meets an off-limits boy who she ends up falling for. Romance ensues.
How was the creative process behind Sunkissed and what inspired you to write it?
Like I mentioned in the last question, Sunkissed was inspired by my love of the movie Dirty Dancing and my years camping as a kid. The creative process is probably not as creative as I’d like for it to sound. Once I have an idea, and after I’ve thought about it incessantly for many weeks, and imagined certain scenes playing out in my head, and discovered what the main conflict/resolution will be, I basically force myself to sit down and write.
My family and I enjoy going camping, so I love how you used a family trip to the camp as the setting. Why did you choose that setting for your story?
I love love love to camp. I did it more when I was younger than I do now. We’d go in the summers as a family and, unlike Avery in this book who is spoiled with a cabin, we would sleep in tents. We’d wash our hands under the spout of an emptied and cleaned bleach bottle filled with water, we’d eat hot dogs and s’mores roasted over an open fire, we’d skip rocks and swim and get dirty. Looking back, I now know it was really the only vacation my parents could afford, but back then I had no idea. It was my favorite. I always knew I wanted to set a book at a summer camp. And I finally was able to do it.
Why is music such an important aspect in Sunkissed?
Music is a huge part of who the main love interest (Brooks) is. And through music, Avery (the main character) discovered more of who she is as well. There are things that make up who each of us are, things we do, things we believe in, things we stand up for. I always have to explore what these things are for my characters when I start a book so that I can really discover who my characters are as people. And music was a big part of these characters.
Who is your favorite character and why?
I think I most relate to Avery in this book. She reminds me a lot of my teenaged self. I was a bit of a people pleaser, like she is. I hated conflict. I had a hard time saying no. I understood her and it was fun to write her growth and to write her becoming a person who advocates for herself more.
Brooks is such a sweetheart! How do you manage to create so many relatable and lovable characters?
Thank you. I’m glad to hear that I do this. I think, like I mentioned above that I really try to dig into what makes each of my characters who they are. What are their likes and dislikes. Why do they think like they do? Why do they want what they want? What are their strengths and weaknesses? It’s important that they make mistakes as well. Nobody is perfect. I hope all that makes them relatable.
Besides the romantic aspect of the book, we also get to see family relationships. How was the process of developing the relationship between Avery and her sister Lauren?
It’s so fun for me to write family relationships. I come from a big family, I have two sisters and two brothers, so it’s easy for me to write family relationships. Me and my older sister used to fight over everything: clothes, the car, curfew, etc. (side note: we are great friends now). Writing realistic sibling fights is like second nature to me. Ha. But seriously, again, I looked at what was important to each sister and that helped when writing their interactions.
And just for fun, tell us 5 random things about you.
Oh, we’re circling back around to the scary professor question?? ;) 5 things…If Dr Pepper and chocolate could sustain me, I would never need to eat anything else…well, maybe french fries. I love to travel. I’m 5’8” but all (except one) of my kids are taller than me (probably because my husband is 6’8”). Quarantine has caused me to become addicted to TikTok (I can’t help it, people are very funny). Also, I write books…have I said that yet?
Thanks so much for the questions!!
This was so much fun! Thank you for your time, Kasie! It is a pleasure to have you on Her Campus UPRM.
You can get SUNKISSED at:
More about Kasie West
Kasie West is the author of many YA novels, including The Fill-in Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, Lucky in Love, and Listen to Your Heart. Her books have been named ALA-YALSA Quick Picks, JLG selections, and ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults. When she's not writing, she's binge-watching television, devouring books, or burying her toes in the sand of the Central Coast. Kasie lives in Fresno, California, with her family. You can find her online at kasiewest.com and on Twitter @KasieWest.