John Kestner is back again with another hit novel, Yesterday Rules! We got a chance to hear a little more about the novel, which is being coined as a “Sort-of Memoir.”

Yesterday Rules by John Kestner“Jeff Bailey is turning 40.  Settled and happily married, he spends his nights writing unsold screenplays while working security at a remote desert nuclear power plant after 9/11. Surfing the web one night, he sees the name of his first love, Shelley Dawson, pop up on a high school website.

Bailey offers to dig out his journals and take them both back to the summer of 1981 in Ohio. She never knew he kept a detailed journal about his time with her so, uneasy but curious, she allows him into a past she can’t remember to see what he finds.

Surprised by how much he’d forgotten, Bailey returns to the single summer that first broke his heart and made him a stranger to his own life and to the only world he’d ever known. The end of his childhood and the beginning of what his young parents always warned him about: dreaded adulthood. Transcribing his journals to a distant lost love, the adult Bailey follows his doomed teenage self, reliving the discovery and pain as he retraces his first feelings for Shelley, unearthing and unleashing emotions that hold consequences for them both all these years later.”  

City Lights Press: What Inspired Yesterday Rules?

John Kestner: What happens in Yesterday Rules inspired Yesterday Rules.

CLP: Did the conversation in your preface actually happen? Has “Loni” read the book?

JK: Yes, it did.  Nearly word for word.  “Loni” had read the initial manuscript (it started as a short document to a first love) and as it developed into this novel, we talked about it, but she hasn’t seen this final version—which now includes her!

CLP: How did your wife feel about Yesterday Rules?

JK: I think I actually portrayed her response to that situation accurately.  If she had any other reaction, she didn’t tell me.

CLP: Jeff Bailey is the same character in your other novel, Vegas Working Girl; is this the same character or just happens to be the same name?

JK: It’s the same guy.  As difficult as it might be to imagine someone more naïve and hopeless as the kid who landed in Las Vegas for Vegas Working Girl, you’ll see that he was actually worse while growing up in the Ohio cornfields of Yesterday Rules.

CLP: Did you ever consider adding in Shelley’s point of view and having two narrators?

JK: If I had any understanding of what went on in her head—at least enough to include her point of view—I’m sure our story would’ve been completely different!

CLP: You wouldn’t tell us what actually happened in Vegas Working Girl and what didn’t, what about Yesterday Rules? Can you tell us what parts were fiction or are you keeping it a secret?

JK: For now, I’d rather let the books speak for themselves. Part of the joy of studying literature in college was discovering that most of the great writers I read used their own lives as the inspiration for their greatest works.  God knows I’m not putting myself in their class, but I feel like good writing connects the author to a reader when the author is exposed and the reader believes what he or she is saying.  “This had to have happened” is one of the highest compliments I could receive from a reader.

CLP: How did you decide on the quotes you used throughout the book?

JK: Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I heard music everywhere.  Radio, records, cassette tapes, the beginning of MTV (when they played music videos).  As a teenager discovering emotions, I would hear a sentiment expressed vocally and musically in a song that helped articulate my feelings in a way I couldn’t on my own.  And all these years later, the songs still touch those nerves and express those feelings.  It’s not unusual to tear up in traffic when the right song comes out of nowhere.

CLP: Did you intend for this to be more of a humorous read or more romance?

JK: It started a long, long time ago as a First Romance story, but my own insecurities, stumblings, and losses turned those years into a comedy.  I wanted to be honest enough about my own feelings of inferiorities and ridiculousness that perhaps anyone reading it might identify and come to terms with their own feelings of utter absurdity.  I might look stupid, but at least I’m honest.

CLP: And last but not least, do you believe in soul mates?

JK: I do.  I know couples who were clearly meant for each other, and God bless ‘em.  I hope I never give up on believing in such a consuming, meant-to-be love.  It hasn’t worked out that way for me…but at least I got a couple of stories out of it.

Look for Yesterday Rules by John Kestner this February!