By Breia Brissey
Updated January 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM EST

January’s not even over, and I want to claim Tempest as one of my favorite books of 2012. The YA novel, by debut author Julie Cross, hit shelves on Tuesday. The story follows 19-year-old Jackson Meyer who has the ability the travel back through time. One day in 2009, strangers burst in on him and his girlfriend, Holly, and she’s fatally shot during a struggle. And in a jump unlike his previous time jumps, Jackson ends up in 2007 where he gets stuck. Will he make it back to 2009 to save Holly? I won’t spoil it for you. But I can offer this Q&A with Julie Cross. She took some time out of her schedule to chat with EW about Tempest and reveal a few small hints about the next book in the trilogy.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did you come up with the idea for Tempest?

Julie Cross: Tempest kind of formed in layers. It started with a catchy premise: a guy witnesses his girlfriend’s murder; jumps back in time and gets stuck there, trying to not only re-meet and fall in love with her again, but also to prevent her death two years from now. The characters quickly fell into place after establishing the premise, then one chapter at a time the plot grew bigger and bigger. I didn’t do a lot of planning ahead initially. I just wrote and steered the story into some crazy corners as I laid down the first draft.

How much of the trilogy is written at this point?

Book 2 is written and [book] 3 is fully outlined and several scenes have already been drafted. Once I got a few steps into the editing process with Tempest, I then had to really think about where I wanted to take the sequels. That required a lot of plotting in advance, unlike my experience writing book 1. Some of the elements planned right now will probably change as we go along, but I’m 100 percent sure about the very end of the trilogy.

Tempest has been out for less than a week, and I’m already dying to read book 2. When does it come out? And what you can reveal about it?

I don’t have a release date for book 2 yet, but I’ve heard it will probably be January 2013. As for book 2 secrets: time-travel is definitely taken up a notch in the second installment. There are also a few new characters that I really enjoy writing. Readers will learn a little more about Jackson’s dad and some of the mysteries that surround him and his job. After a short prologue, the book opens about three months after the end of Tempest. Three months that Jackson has lived in full—the normal way, no time jumps.

I read a lot of YA and it’s not that common for a male to be the main character. Why did you decided to tell this story from Jackson’s point of view?

I wanted the reader inside Jackson’s head, walking through this exciting—and sometimes scary—journey with him. Originally, I didn’t realize that so little YA books have male protagonists, even though I read a lot myself. I figured I had just chosen mostly books with female narrators. When I did discover the rarity of boy narrators in YA, I got a little worried that it was too risky or different. I’m really glad the reception has been positive because I just love writing Jackson now and couldn’t imagine Tempest with a different narrator.

Let’s talk about that ending. I won’t spoil it for our readers who haven’t finished it yet, but I feel a little heartbroken by the whole thing. Please tell me there’s some sort of resolution.

I can’t spoil it! But just keep reading. It was a very difficult ending to write, believe me. I almost couldn’t go through with it. But it really truly is exactly what the characters should do and sometimes you have to set your own emotions aside to tell the best story you can. Plus, I do love a little drama in books and tears are always welcome.

Anything else you want to add or can add about the series?

One thing I really love telling people, mostly because it honestly surprised me, is how broad the audience has been so far for Tempest. Positive feedback has come from 14-year-old girls, teen guys reluctant to read YA novels, middle-aged men, and women who are my grandmother’s age. It’s amazing to see what different aspects of Tempest readers will latch onto…. So, even if you’re not usually a fan of YA or love stories, it’s possible you may enjoy Tempest. Having a college-aged main character has really helped snag some of the older readers, and I really love writing for a broad audience. It’s such a rewarding experience.

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