Leandra Wallace, my lovely crit partner and friend, asked me to participate in a fun KidLit blog tour. Being the type of writer to never turn down an opportunity to talk about myself or my writing, I said, “Hell, yeah.”
So here goes….
What are you working on right now?
My work-in-progress is a YA historical mystery set in 1955. Here’s the sentence: When her soon-to-be stepfather is murdered, a 17-year-old Argentine immigrant sets out to uncover the killer only to discover the man she loved like a father was an imposter. No title yet. I’m using the Snowflake Method to plan the novel and I’m in the scene-building stage.
How does this differ from other works in its genre?
There isn’t a wealth of YA historical mysteries (I’ve been trying to read all the ones I can find) and this one employs a cast of interesting characters, many of them immigrants with a unique perspective on American culture in the 1950s, and all with a motive for murder.
The 1950s were a unique period in history — this decade was the birth of the teenager. Their parents, who had suffered during the Depression and World War II, offered their teens a better life with more freedom. Teens had cars, money and time to socialize. Teens went to drive-ins, diners and sock hops. Rock n Roll emerged. But there was also racism, antisemitism, blatant homophobia and McCarthyism. Teens were having fun, but there were many people who didn’t feel safe to be themselves. And that’s incredibly poignant and powerful, especially for a YA novel.
Why do you write what you do?
I am a former YA librarian and I am crazy passionate about YA literature. I also have a degree in history and I have a fascination with the past. I’m also a sucker for a good mystery to solve.
How does your writing process work?
For my first novel (which will be published by Red Adept Publishing next year), I didn’t outline enough and wound up revising a trillion times. For my WIP, I decided to use the Snowflake Method
to outline and it’s been a lifesaver. This method works well for me because it starts off with the big picture idea (the sentence) and funnels everything down until I develop a scene list.
Most importantly, the method makes me focus on characterization. I find that in developing my characters, I gain insight into my plot and mystery. I suppose the downside is I’m not writing immediately. It takes me a long time to plan the book, but perhaps then I won’t be revising a million times later. Also, having a scene list makes writing incredibly efficient. My daily word count skyrockets.
Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?
My best advice for beginning writers is to read up on craft. You don’t need a MFA, but you do need to have a strong foundation in the elements of fiction. And then read and write and have other people read what you wrote. Also, have a plan. I know some authors write without an outline, but know how your story is going to begin and end. And when you stop writing for the day, stop in the middle of a scene so you can easily pick it up back up the next day.
Make sure to check out these YA authors’ blogs next week when they post about their WIPs and writing processes. It’s always cool to see how other writers write.