Title: Bleed Like Me
Author: Christa Desir
Date of Publication: October 7th 2014
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.
Q&A with Christa Desir:
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I usually start with characters and a very vague idea of what their problem is. For example, in my alcoholic girl boxer book, I had a voice in my head of a girl who was really angry and had just gotten out of rehab. The rest of it came out (including her being a boxer) as I started writing.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
My first book FAULT LINE is a book about a girl who is gang-raped at a party and is told from the POV of her boyfriend who did not attend the party. BLEED LIKE ME is told from a girl’s POV who is in a very co-dependent and unhealthy relationship. BLM is not exactly an “issue” book in the same way that FAULT LIINE is and even the things that come up in BLM aren’t as polarizing as FL. Books about rape can be very tricky, particularly if people are sexual violence survivors. BLEED is a different sort of book because it leaves the reader with questions about what we’re willing to sacrifice in order for someone to love us.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I find the business of publishing to be very challenging and when all that noise gets in my head, I think it is hard to write. I miss writing in a vacuum of pure writing and nothing else. Every morning I try to recreate that vacuum by writing for a few hours with no noise or internet or anything else, but I still can’t stop thinking about the business side of things. (For example: will this book be too controversial? Will schools not want to shelve it? Will people hate it because it’s not a happy ending and therefore sales will suffer?
What are your current projects?
I have a book about an alcoholic girl boxer that is coming out in January 2016. And I have a collaboration with author Jolene Perry that comes out in May 2016. I’m also working on a long-term pet project that is just for fun and just for me. Which makes me very happy. 🙂
Dennis had concocted a huge sale to get rid of the summer inventory. He wanted me to build wooden birdhouses to mark the sale aisles. It was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard, but he threatened to fire me if I didn’t do it and I thought he might be serious.
“Why don’t you just put sale signs over these aisles?”
“Shut it,” Dennis barked at me.
“I’m just saying, a bunch of birdhouses aren’t gonna let people know they can take fifty percent off of all the merchandise.”
“Quit your bitching. You’ve been in a surly mood this past month and you need to snap out of it.”
I gaped at him. Was I that obvious? “No, I haven’t.”
Dennis shook his head and exchanged a look with Ricardo. “Yes, you have. Now just finish putting your tools away and get your head in the game or I’m dropping you.”
I wasn’t the only surly one. Dennis had been on his period ever since Brooks had shown up drunk that day.
“You’re not dropping me. No one else can work the circular saw.”
“Ricardo can. And working the circular saw isn’t a requirement of the job.”
“It is if you have to build bullshit birdhouses,” I mumbled.
Dennis’s nostrils flared. “No more discussion. Tools away and you better be back here this weekend to work the sale.”
I opened my mouth to argue more, but Dennis held up his hand. When the hand came up, I knew Dennis was really pissed. I shut my mouth and moved to the storage garage. What did I care anyway? I had nowhere else to be.
The lights flickered as I stood surveying the piles of wood and tools littered along the floor. I sat down and started collecting nails, putting them into the tiny, labeled boxes Dennis housed them in. The door to the storage garage creaked open and my head whipped up.
Brooks. Heat I hadn’t felt in days surged into my body. My hands trembled and I clenched them into fists.
“Where the hell have you been?”
He took a tentative step toward me. “Rehab.”
“Really?” My hands unclenched and my eyes scanned his body as I got to my feet. He’d gotten thinner and something about his face looked not quite right.
“Yeah. Sue found some E in my duffel and sort of overreacted. I think fucking Ray tipped her off about it. She told me I needed to pull my shit together and get clean if I wanted to stay with her.”
He moved closer to me, and his hand reached out to trace the hoops in my ear. I shut my eyes for a second and allowed his long fingers to figure eight around the silver before I shook him off.
“You could’ve called me or returned my texts. It’s been thirty-five days. Longer than a month.” My breath came in short bursts, squeezed from the hole in my throat that had been shrinking since the moment he left.
His fingers moved to the now completely faded hickey on my neck. He circled it, his thumb brushing over the smoothness as he stared at me, took all of me in with his too keen eyes. Butterflies fluttered around my stomach. Then he dropped his mouth to my pale skin and sucked hard. My insides coiled, the butterflies stilled. I released a long shaky breath.
“They took my cell and it wasn’t the kind of rehab where you get to make a bunch of phone calls,” he said, nipping me with his teeth.
“Are you going to apologize?” I grabbed at my last vestiges of logic and pushed him off my neck.
“I don’t do apologies,” he said, and his hands circled my waist before he plunged his mouth onto mine. His tongue traced my bottom lip, pressing me to open.
Part of me wanted to push him away. Drop him before he bailed on me all over again. Make him beg for my forgiveness. But seeing him in front of me practically vibrating with want, everything fell out of my head. It was like an IV of Ecstasy pumped directly into my heart.
I clung to his neck. His hands slid beneath the back of my shirt, moving up and down my spine. I raked my fingers through his hair and opened my mouth wider. My entire body trembled with how much I’d missed him.
He pulled away for a second, dropping kisses along my jaw before whispering, “Does the door lock?”
I nodded, drawing in a quick breath. Dennis had installed a lock on the inside of the door a month after he realized how much time I spent alone working there.
Brooks released me and went to shut and lock the door.
“Let me see you,” he said, stepping toward me and lifting me on to Dennis’s work table. He moved his hands to the bottom of my shirt.
I stilled for a second and then helped him pull my shirt off. His hands shook a little when he lifted off the next layer of my thin tank top.
He grinned at me. “Anticipation.”
The lump in my throat got bigger. “Really?”
His hands moved over my stomach, sliding over old scars. “Really. It’s been a long thirty-five days.”
My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me.
I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I’m not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life