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Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Write YA Blogfest: Because Fin Made me Do It

The short answer is, I don't write YA.

If you asked me a year ago what I write, I'd have said, um, novels? I knew I wasn't writing memoir or non fiction but that's about it. The first book I wrote (currently mouldering gently in a digital drawer) is called Death Hires An Assistant. Hey, guess what happens in the book? Wow, you're psychic.

I had been writing Death Hires An Assistant in my head, on and off, for ten years. When we moved from NYC, to a place where deer walk down the street in the early morning mist and my neighbor keeps chickens, I had more brain space to let me get serious about writing. But the DHAA manuscript was a hot/cold/lukewarm-in-places mess. All my beta readers (except Tammy, I love you, babes!) said it was hit and miss. I didn't know what to do next.

I had a nugget of an idea that I wanted to play with, but I was afraid that starting a new project meant that I was abandoning DHAA, giving up. NaNoWriMo rolled around and I thought this would be a good way to 'waste' this new idea. You know, get it out of my system so I could get back to writing my opus.

I got the idea for BookEnd while driving up the Garden State Parkway. In my mind, I saw a boy, sixteen or so, standing by a ramshackle farm waiting for a man in period garb to walk through a gate. The man, looking like a lesser character in a Jane Austen movie, was pompous and confused. The boy laughed at him, taking him by the hand into the farm. That's it. That's all I saw. I was thinking about how funny it would be if minor characters from books found that, at the end of their story, they would be recycled.

I actually thought I'd write a light, funny story that I might be able to stretch to reach the 50K goal.
BookEnd has turned into a darker coming of age story that is over 75K and has a sequel, BookBegin already outlined. How the eff do these things happen? It's like I'm not even in control here.

So, why do I write YA? I think it's two things. It's because Fin, my main character, had a story to tell and his story is a YA story. And because YA is what I enjoy reading right now. I've been devouring Philip Pullman, Rowling and Garth Nix for years, not really making a distinction on A or YA reading, just loving the adventure.

For me, it's about the adventure, whether it's recycling book characters or having death for a boss.

Why do you write what you write?

15 comments:

  1. I write YA because of the characters, too. I love YA characters, and YA adventures! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. Writing YA for the adventure, I like that. I do it for many reasons, one of them being to be able to share my experience of two cultures.
    Nice meeting you.

    akossket.wordpress.com

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  3. Fin's story sounds so interesting! I'd love to read it. :-)

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  4. I agree it is all about the adventure!

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  5. Why I write what I write? Primarily because it's what I read most of the time.

    I've never been able to dive into YA. I'm not really sure why, but I do know I think I've missed the bus there.

    For me? Thrillers/Suspense..a little mystery thrown in

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  6. In my case, it was Kieran that made me do it. ;-p It's the same reason as you: my characters were teens and this story was about them and for them.

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  7. It's always about the characters. You just have to go where they take you, right?

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  8. I absolutely love to read YA. :) I always identify so well with the characters in the YA novels I read, probably probably because I am still in the YA-range myself (about to be 19).

    By the way, you have a lovely blog!! And Fin is an awesome name (not because of Glee, of course lol).

    ~TRA

    http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

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  9. Thanks for posing the question. I write what I write because I haven't quite been able to find it on the shelves, already.

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  10. Like my friend, Bryce, I write thrillers because it's what I like to read most, though I did just read Lucy Christopher's YA novel, Stolen. But then again, her story has elements similar to mine. Other than that & Twilight (had to see what the buzz was all about), I don't read much YA. But I enjoy your blog & am your newest follower so you'll be seeing me around.

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  11. Oh, I love that recylcng book characters idea! Don't you love it when an idea takes hold like that? I kind of fell into YA writing too, as the characters insisted on being teenagers!

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  12. OMG I love the concepts for your stories. I would definitely want to read about the recycled characters (sort Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-esque, no?)

    I too fell into YA because that's the way my voice always came out. No matter how hard I tried to write like a grown-up, I always end up sounding like a 13-year-old.

    Thanks so much for joining the blogfest!

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  13. Thanks everybody for visiting and commenting on why you write what you write. I think it so often is about what the characters compel the writer to say, the way they make you stay true to the story.
    @ Gabriela - thanks for hosting the blogfest, it was lots of fun and I met great people. Keep up the awesome!
    @suze - what DO you write? I'm intrigued by the idea of something that doesn't exist out there already. Are you writing the book you wish you could read?

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  14. Your book sounds awesome! I think the best thing to do as a writer is to find the right story that needs to be told - no matter what genre it is. Right now the stories pouring out of me are YA but who knows what I'll write in the future?

    (Sorry for the late comment! I was away from my computer all weekend. Thanks for participating in our blog fest!)

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