By Dame KazI am very happy to hand over the keys to the blog once again to author Chloe Neill. She was here earlier this year when her debut novel, SOME GIRLS BITE, was released. Now she’s back with a wonderful guest blog to celebrate the forthcoming release of Book 2 of the Chicagoland Vampires series. She also has her first YA novel coming out in just a few months – but I’ll let Chloe tell you all about it herself. And stick around afterwards for a great giveaway.
THE TROUBLE WITH TEENAGERS
Although I’m very excited about the October 6 release of FRIDAY NIGHT BITES, I’ve also got a new kind of release in January—my first young adult novel (FIRESPELL). I write in the first person, and I’ll be the first to admit—making the transition from 28 year-old grad student-turned-vampire to quirky, 16 year-old high school junior wasn’t entirely easy.
Certainly, being a blood-drinking, fang-bearing creature of the night has its creative limitations. Merit can’t go out in the sun, she has to stay away from aspen stakes, and she has to drink blood. The night bit can be tricky, especially since the Chicagoland Vampires series is, as the name might have suggested, set in a real city. Stores close, neighborhoods empty, classes aren’t in session, and restaurants are locked up tight. I also can’t have Merit hopping around a park after dark if the park closes and a giant gate goes up at midnight…or at the very least I have to make sure that I’ve accounted for the fact that a giant gate goes up at midnight.
So, the night-dwelling can be a bit limiting. But consider some of the limitations involved in writing about teenagers:
1. Back to School
I’ve heard folks criticize paranormal YA as being “just like Harry Potter.” And in a way, they’re probably right—the books, just like Harry Potter, tend to feature kids or teenagers with magical powers who are also in school. But for better or worse, school is a fact of life for the 18-and-under set, so you’ve got to deal with it one way or the other.
In the Novels of the Dark Elite, I opted for boarding school. That actually makes the problem worse, as not only are Lily and her sidekick, Scout, in school from 9 to 5, they’re in school (or at least the school buildings) twenty-four hours a day. The lesson: making a YA story interesting while keeping your hero/heroine safe from the attentions of truant officers can be a tricky, tricky thing.
Merit has parents, sure, but she doesn’t live with them. She’s of age, so she can make her own decisions (much to her father’s chagrin).
Although Lily’s parents are on sabbatical, they’re still her parents, and she’s still under age. That means her parents have to be accounted for, one way or another.
3. Minority Report
The heroes/heroines of YA novels have one more thing in common: they may be too young to drink, vote, join the military and/or drive. They can’t drive out to a party or a crime scene, and they aren’t going to share champagne in a celebratory scene after a successful battle. That means, among other things, that they need a way to get where they’re going (public transportation? everything within walking distance?).
4. Cussin’ and Carousin’
If the heroes/heroines are too young to get into rated “R” movies on their own, the audience for the novels is probably too young to read about serious swearing and carousing. No sailor-worthy cursing, no raucous partying, and considerably fewer adult situations.
5. What the Kids Say
Finally, and maybe most importantly, the heroes and heroines have to sound legitimately like young adults. The conversations, the words, need to be believable, just as the concerns and motivations need to be believable. And it can be tricky getting into the minds of a modern teenager, especially if The Hills or Gossip Girl are your only connections to the teen population.
Writing YA novels, of course, has its own rewards. But there are definitely some challenges to overcome.
Thanks for reading, and thanks to the Deadline Dames for having me today!
Thanks for such an interesting post, Chloe. I can relate to a lot of this with my own YA writing; plenty of food for thought. And now… onto the contest!
Chloe has generously offered a fangtastic (ahem) giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of FRIDAY NIGHT BITES and a Cadogan House gift pack (inc. pen, bar coaster, postcard, bookplate, and European-style “CH” bumper sticker).
To be in with a chance of winning, just leave a comment on this entry by the end of the day, anywhere, Monday 5th October 2009. It’s my turn to post here on Tuesday (Chloe’s official release date!) so I’ll announce the winner then. Get commenting!
ETA: Chloe has confirmed that the contest is open to readers from all countries.