The average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day. That’s about 34,999 too many for Paige Collins, who lives in debilitating fear of making the wrong choice. The simple act of picking an art elective is enough to send her into a spiral of what-ifs. What if she’s destined to be a famous ceramicist but wastes her talent in drama club? What if there’s a carbon monoxide leak in the ceramics studio and everyone drops dead? (Grim, but possible!)
That’s why when Paige is presented with two last-minute options for Christmas vacation, she’s paralyzed by indecision. Should she go with her best friend (and longtime crush) Fitz to his family’s romantic mountain cabin? Or should she accompany her mom to New York, a city Paige has spent her whole life dreaming about?
Just when it seems like Paige will crack from the pressure of choosing, fate steps in — in the form of a slippery grocery store floor — and Paige’s life splits into two very different parallel paths. One path leads to New York where Paige falls for the city . . . and the charms of her unexpected tour guide. The other leads to the mountains where Paige might finally get her chance with Fitz . . . until her anxiety threatens to ruin everything.
However, before Paige gets her happy ending in either destiny, she’ll have to face the truth about her struggle with anxiety — and learn that you don’t have to be “perfect” to deserve true love.
Born in the mountains and raised in the desert, Kara McDowell spent her childhood swimming, boating, and making up stories in her head. As the middle of five children, Kara entertained her family on long road trips by reading short mystery stories out loud and forcing everyone to guess the conclusion. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in English Literature, Kara worked as a freelance writer. Now she writes young adult novels from her home in Arizona, where she lives with her husband and three young sons.
One of the most common questions I get asked is “where do your ideas come from?” And my honest answer is usually, “I don’t know.”
One Way or Another is different. I remember very clearly the question that popped into my head when brainstorming possible book ideas: what if a girl with a knack for making bad decision surrenders her fate to a magic eight ball app?
As I mulled over the idea, I thought it would be fun to show two possible outcomes of one decision (inspired by the 1998 movie Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow). One book, two fates. Set it at Christmas, because why not? I love Christmas, and I wanted to write something oozing happy, romantic, festive joy. Pieces of the book were forming in my mind (one fate in my dream city of New York, one in a snowy mountain cabin!), but I couldn’t wrap my head around this character, or why she made bad decisions. Still, the thought of a Magic 8 Ball app was too alluring to ignore. It’s exactly the type of thing I would have done as a teenager. It’s the type of thing I’m tempted to do now! Not because I make bad decisions, but because I hate making them, period.
Big decisions send me into a spiral of imaging worst-case scenarios, a symptom that was never more present than as a teenager falling in love and trying to figure out the rest of my life. It’s an anxiety thing, and I’ll be honest—it sucks.
But once I connected my anxiety to my struggle with decision making, I understood my main character Paige, and the story fell together in a matter of weeks. I decided to write a character with the same anxiety I’ve dealt with for most of my life, and it was the easiest, happiest writing experience of my life. I found so much joy in taking this anxious girl and sending her on a grand romantic adventure. And more importantly, it was incredibly cathartic to give her a happy ending in both fates. Paige spends much of One Way or Another worrying that one wrong decision will ruin her life, but this book is proof to her, to myself, and (hopefully!) to readers, that anxiety can be managed, and that everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to, even if we make a few “wrong” turns along the way.
Thank you to Kara McDowell for reaching out to me for this post. I’m excited for One Way Or Another.