Posts Tagged 'Young Adult Fiction'

BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA HARWELL

By Connie Ward

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 What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

 

I don’t know if I’ve ever consciously made the decision. I started writing as soon as I realized it was possible, and I haven’t stopped. I wrote my first “novel” when I was eight, a story of war between unicorns and dragons and a chosen girl destined to save the world. Over a decade later, my stories have improved (I hope!), but the same spark from those early novels is still here.

 

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

 

I write fantasy and science-fiction stories. I believe that speculative fiction answers questions that realistic fiction can’t ask, not to the same degree. It creates a space that is both safe and dangerous, often dealing with the very edge of what humanity is capable of, the good and the terrible. That’s what has drawn me to it, both as a reader and a writer. I began writing LGBT speculative fiction because I so rarely saw people like me populating fantasy realms and alien worlds, and I wanted to fix that.

 

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

 

They have been nothing but supportive, for which I am extremely grateful. I was lucky enough to be part of a wonderful writing community as an undergrad, which continually challenged me to become a better writer.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

No single place. The Iron Phoenix came about because I wanted to see a superhero story set in a fantasy world and to explore how the genres would fit together. I took what I loved about both kinds of stories, discarded what I didn’t, and built something new. Ideas for characters and descriptions and all the small details came in bits and pieces, sometimes from the background of other stories and sometimes from the shower.

 

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

 

I am a compulsive outliner, spending quite a bit of time with an idea, shaping and developing it, before ever writing the first line. The ending of a story is one of the first things that I figure out. Instead of being stifled by knowing the story, I find it incredibly freeing, and I’m still surprised by my characters and my world every time I sit down to write.

 

The Iron PhoenixWhat makes The Iron Phoenix special to you?

 

Many things. It began as a challenge to outline and write an entire book over spring break during my first year of college. In order to do that, I poured everything that I loved into one story: a strong heroine, superheroes, fantasy worlds, and romance. I did write a draft, but it had to be torn to the ground and built up again several times until I found the story’s core. It was the first time I threw out all the rules, everything about what I thought I should be writing, and let the story take over.

 

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

 

Not very much, actually. My characters are entirely made up, built from scraps that I have floating around in my head and refined by the story they’re in. Most of the time, they don’t become fully formed until later drafts.

 

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

 

Malinda Lo, a lesbian YA fantasy writer, has been one of my biggest inspirations. Reading her lesbian retelling of Cinderella, Ash, was the first time I saw myself in a fantasy novel and the first time I realized that it was something I could write.

 

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

 

Be passionate about what you’re writing. Process changes, but I think passion is key in order to stay in love with a manuscript as you revise it for the fifth time. I also believe it’s vital to get feedback on your work. I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful critique partner who pushes me to write better and dig deeper on revisions, and I think that has made a huge difference.

 

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

 

I’m currently in grad school, so there’s not a whole lot of time for anything but studying and writing. I do enjoy reading and playing video games as well as hanging out with my rabbit, Elphie.

Writing is like…

BY REBECCA HARWELL

It was spring break my first year of college, and I was going to be stuck on campus. With nearly everyone gone and nothing to do, I decided, practically on a whim, that I was going to write a book in one week.

 

An impulse decision, as I had not developed anything in my folder of book ideas. I sat down on my bed, computer on my lap, and asked myself: What is the one book I’d always wanted to read?

 

The answer came far more easily than I had anticipated: a superhero story set in a fantasy world starring a lesbian protagonist. An amalgam of my favorite genres with a main character who I could relate to.

 

Three days of planning, plotting, and developing the idea, and then seven days of writing. As a student, I had never been able to completely give my time over to writing. Being able to write all day, to live and breathe the story as I wrote it, was incredible. It was also exhausting, and when I typed out ‘the end,’ I didn’t look at it again for months.

 

The Iron PhoenixThe first draft of The Iron Phoenix was the worst draft I’d written in years, full of uneven characterizations, dropped plotlines, thin worldbuilding. But it had a spark, and that drew me back to the mess of a draft. Revising it took the better part of two years (and a lot of patience from my wonderful critique partner), but with each pass, the dead parts got stripped away, and the essence of the book I was trying to write became clearer.

 

I’m not very good at ‘writing is like’ analogies because, for me, the nature of writing changes from book to book. I’ve written manuscripts that have been like building a home (or so I imagine): careful blueprints, steady constructing, finishing fixes, and minor polishing. And I’ve written stories that behaved more like a road trip: a rough map of the freeways with a clear destination with little to no idea of what I’ll see on the way.

 

Some writers are explorers, knowing nothing of the terrain except what is right before them. Others are engineers, constructing each piece carefully, fitting interlocking bits of the story together.

 

As I consider the process of writing The Iron Phoenix, it proves difficult to pin down to a specific analogy. Writing it did not feel like constructing anything, or following a map. Instead, I felt like I was unearthing the story from all the books . I knew what was buried beneath all those plot ideas, secondary characters, and fantasy descriptions. I knew what I was searching for as I wrote it, and each word I put down, each word I rewrote, brought it that much closer to the surface.

 

So, perhaps, for this book at least, writing is like archaeology, a slow uncovering an artifact, learning its secrets one at a time.

When the Magic Happens

By Amy Dunne

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With my upcoming September release, The Renegade, soon due for release I was privileged to be invited to write this blog. For weeks I pondered what topic I should write about. Last year, I wrote about a huge personal revelation that I discovered on reflection of my two previous novels, Secret Lies and Season’s Meetings. Both dealt subconsciously with the passing of my incredible grandmother, Mama Bridie. Both stories voiced my grief and helped me come to terms with losing her. Still at a loss as to what topic I should broach, my wonderful wife suggested I should write about my writing process, as I’ve been asked a lot of questions recently about how I go about writing by readers. Knowing that my wife is almost always right, I’ve decided to stick with that topic.The Renegade Cover

What is the first thing that happens? There’s a spark. And this spark can happen at anytime and in any place. It’s happened on a bus journey, in the shower, when I’m on the verge of falling to sleep, and when I’m in the middle of a conversation. I have a thought, perhaps ask myself a question, or see a mental image of a setting or scene, or sometimes even think from a brand new character’s point of view. From that inital spark comes a snowball affect. The story, characters, and settings quickly all fall into place. It becomes a new obsession. My head is filled with the story and characters and they are all I think about. Sometimes I even dream about them. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing in body, because my mind is constantly working out any plot holes and how to fix them. I live, eat, sleep, and breathe the story, setting, and characters. And I think this is why all three of my books are different genres; Young Adult, Traditional Contemporary Romance, and Speculative Fiction. I don’t choose one specific story or genre to write. I have to go with whatever characters or story is making the most noise at that time.

seasons-meetingsMost writers tend to fit into one of two categories of writer: the plotter or the pantser. The plotter likes to plot everything out and know exactly how each chapter and character is going to develop. The panster just goes with the flow and flies by the seat of their pants. Both types have positives and negatives. I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle, perhaps I’m a planster. I plot the general outline and story arc by initially writing a proposal and in-depth character and story arc outlines before I even start writing the manuscript. There are always parts that I don’t know and they tend to be the parts that occur between the main plot points.

Scenes play in my head like a movie clip. While I’m typing away on the keyboard and words appear on the screen, I’m actually writing what I’m seeing in my mind’s eye. Almost like I’m experiencing everything with the characters. I’ve always had an overactive imagination and I enjoy daydreaming these scenes. I can vividly imagine seeing, smelling, hearing, and touching things in each scene. The smell of rain or smoke from a camp fire. The sound of paws and boots on cold marble floor. The sound of crickets and birds and the eerie silence of a deserted street or block. The cold numbness that accompanies snow, the irritation of damp socks, the aggravation of a trickle of sweat on a blisteringly hot day. Taste is probably the only thing I can’t do accurately, but in all three book there are plenty of descriptions of various food / meals. The inspiration usually comes from something I’ve eaten recently or something that I’m really craving at the time.

It’s during the writing process when the characters take on a life of their own. This is for me, where the magic happens. The character’s ambitions, likes, dislikes, history, psychology, physiology, and dreams all contribute to a feeling of authenticity. The characters become real in their own right. It’s during these unknown parts of the story that little quirky gems occur and everything seems to fall into place. Humour is something that happens naturally during these stages and can come from out of nowhere. For me, this is the exciting and most enjoyable part of the process. Like the reader, I get to know the characters as they want to be known. I appreciate that this probably sounds a little absurd, but this is how my writing process works. It’s almost like the characters are in charge and call most of the shots. For instance, in Season’s Meetings I’d planned on only one intimate romantic scene, however Catherine and Holly both had other ideas. Begrudgingly, I ended up having to write the scene because they wouldn’t let the Book coversubject drop. With Nicola and Jenny in Secret Lies, I felt incredibly maternal towards them. When it came to poor decisions and big mistakes I wanted to protect them and intervene, but they wouldn’t let me. It’s their story and I have to go along with it. I become as emotionally invested as the readers do if not more. I feel frustrated, upset, and happy as I embark on their journey with them. The characters also insist on changing things such as a certain phrase or an item of clothing. If something I write doesn’t ring true, they don’t hesitate in hounding me until I fix it.

I read somewhere that writing a story and publishing it, is like putting a little bit of your soul out into the world. BiRpwXpIYAAzuv1It can make you feel vulnerable. For me, it’s not just the time, effort, and sacrifices that went into the book, that make me nervous and perhaps sometimes overly-sensitive about the release. I truly do appreciate constructive criticism as it helps me develop my writing skills. It comes down to the fact I don’t want to let the characters down. They feel like family and friends. I’ve spent months, sometimes even years getting to know them and I feel protective of them. I want to do their stories justice. I want readers to like them and enjoy reading the books, as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Maxine Wore Black

 By Ifbatmanwereajedi

Maxine Wore Black 300 DPI

“Maxine is the girl of Jayla’s dreams: she’s charming, magnetic, and loves Jayla for her transgender self. There’s only one problem with Maxine—she already has a girlfriend, perfect Becky.

Jayla quickly falls under Maxine’s spell, and she’s willing to do anything to win her. But when Becky turns up dead, Jayla is pulled into a tangle of deceit, lies, and murder. Now Jayla is forced to choose between love and the truth.

Jayla will need all the strength she has to escape the darkness that threatens to take her very life.”

What I Like About This Book:

Alright, so right from the get-go I knew I liked the character Ermin. (Even if they are a small character) First off, I love how Francesca doesn’t even hesitate to ask them what their preferred pronoun was. (Something everyone should get in the habit of doing.) When they answered that they just preferred Ermin, I fell for this character. As a gender fluid individual myself, it’s always nice to have a non-gender conforming character to relate to.

The book always kept you wondering. “Where was Becky’s death going? Why was Maxine so interested in Jayla? Why was Danny so hostile towards them both? Is this a clue? Could this be possible foreshadowing?” These were all questions I found myself asking as I read the book.

The book makes you question what you thought you knew. I knew I liked Maxine and I hated Becky in the beginning of the book. However, towards the end I found myself hating Maxine and feeling more sympathetic towards Becky.

I love how they used transgender characters because I feel like there isn’t enough books that have good, strong transgender characters. I also love how the book combatted the idea that all transgender people were heterosexual. The variety in these characters are perfect!

To me. the length of this book is perfect. It didn’t take too long to finish but it certainly wasn’t a quick read either.

Finally, I love the way Maxine and Jayla’s relationship is portrayed. It shows how dangerous abusive relationships are because in the beginning you don’t even realize it’s abusive. You only realize after it gets gradually worse.

What I Disliked About This Book:

There were certain parts in the book that seemed to drag where others were really fast-paced. While this helps with the tone of the book, personally it left me a bit confused.

I wish we got to know Becky a bit more. All we really know about her is what other people remember, but we never got to interact with her firsthand.

 

 

So in conclusion, this has to be one of my favorite books. It has such a wonderful variety of characters and a beautifully developed plot line. I enjoyed trying to figure out how the book would end, and then the book just completely surprising me afterwards! I honestly think if you are a fan of thrillers or mysteries, you should read this book.

I would definitely reread this book and recommend it to others.

5/5 BatSabers from me!

Inspiration

By Amy Dunne

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Inspiration is a funny thing. Some writers believe their muse is the key to their inspiration and the driving force behind their writing. I don’t have a muse—or if I have, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced as of yet. Writing, in my personal experience, is the most challenging craft I’ve ever tried to undertake. It takes time, dedication, sacrifice, hard work, acceptance of constructive criticism, and the belief that you’ll get there in the end. Each writer’s inspiration is unique to them. And I believe the driving force and inspiration behind my own writing is down to a number of contributing factors.

Part of the driving force behind my writing is the enjoyment I get from creating stories, characters, and settings. I love to people watch. I appreciate that sounds a little stalkerish, but people watching is one of my favourite pastimes. When I’m sat on a bus, having a coffee with friends and family, walking our dog, working at the theatre, or even doing my local grocery shop, I’m always distracted by my nosiness. My family are Irish and I truly believe that my nosiness, as well as (what I like to believe is)a wicked sense of humour, a compulsion to feed guests regardless of whether they’re hungry, urge to sing and sway while drunk, and the captivating storytelling, are all attributed to my family’s Irish heritage. It’s in the genes—or perhaps it’s how we’re brought up, but whatever’s the cause, it’s definitely to do with being Irish.

Another aspect that drives my writing is my family and friends. Without their unwavering support and love, I might not have persevered. In recent years, my self-esteem has deteriorated. So, writing a novel that will be read and judged by strangers is a very stressful experience for me. With my upcoming second novel, Season’s Meetings I was downright certain, that I couldn’t successfully turn my hand to writing a contemporary romance. My debut novel, Secret LiesSecret Lies 300 DPI was a dark and gritty YA novel, whereas I knew straight away that Season’s Meetings was going to be festive and fun. They couldn’t really get much more different even if I’d tried. Change, has always worried me. I’ve never been one to willingly embrace new things, so this was a big deal for me. Countless times, I gave up, accepted defeat, tore my nerves to finer shreds, happily wallowed in my low self-esteem, and became consumed by self pity. Irritatingly, my wife and family wouldn’t let me stop writing. Their belief in me and my writing ability was unwavering. I was sat back down in my chair and verbally prodded with words of encouragement, until I gave in and got back to writing. They, without a doubt, are my driving force. I remain infinitely grateful to them.

My inspiration for stories, characters, and settings often come from personal experiences. The inspiration behind Secret Lies came in 2007, when I was working with vulnerable young people in care. I asked one of the young people why they didn’t enjoy reading. Their reply was, “Everyone’s always perfect in books and they only have silly problems. They haven’t been through what I’ve been through. It just reminds me that I’m not normal. No one wants to read about someone like me.” This resonated with me. In the back of my mind I’d been toying with the idea of writing a YA story for a while and this was the push I needed to actually pursue that ambition. I had a vague storyline based on a short story I’d written for my English coursework when I was sixteen. I made two major changes to the original storyline: I introduced two lesbian protagonists and I set out to raise awareness of the taboo issues of abuse and self-harm. Over the years, I’ve known many young people who identify as LGBTQ who have been affected by self-harm. I wanted to incorporate this into the story and subtly include where resources and support can be accessed.

I also drew on partial experiences from my own teenage life: Catholic school, Irish family, Sister Act, house parties, discovering newfound sexuality and reconciling it with faith, peer, and social pressures. Not a single character was based on a real person. I took characteristics and attributes from various people (myself included) and added fictitious aspects to create a character in their own right. And that’s part of what I love about writing. You get to see the characters come to life and take on their own experiences. By the end of the process, Jenny and Nicola were as real to me as anyone else I might meet. I felt maternal towards their plight and despaired at their decisions and actions.

The inspiration behind Season’s Meetings came last October. My wife and I love Christmas and always get overly excited—to the extent that we’re worse than a sleep-deprived child experiencing a sugar rush on Christmas Eve. Xmas 1aWe’re terrible influences on each other . Come October, we’re already buying gifts for family and friends, which I’ll readily admit is a task I relish. We eagerly count down to December 1st so we can blitz our house, pets, and even ourselves with festive paraphernalia. Last year, I was talking with my wife about Christmas and how it’s always over far too quickly. She suggested I write a festive story and that got me thinking. Twelve hours later, I had the full outline and character profiles of my Christmas romance sorted. BSB accepted the proposal and a contract was signed. Something was still missing from the story, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. In December, our perfectly decorated Christmas tree (which we’d spent hours slaving over)was sabotaged by our two cats and little cairn terrier, Kimmy. Kimmy was the main culprit. She’d used a thirty minute window of unsupervised doggy opportunity to break into the front room (we still don’t know how she got by the metal barricade) and reveled in her naughtiness by defiling our tree. Kimmy, was the missing link. Once I added her naughty grey little behind into the story, everything else fit into place. She not only stars in the story, she’s also on the front cover too.399196_110245149144601_1142677582_n

So now I come to the part that is most important. I’ve been planning on writing this blog for a while, but kept putting it off…until now. After finishing the page proofs for Season’s Meetings, I realised something profound and deeply personal. My subconscious (without my knowledge or permission) had been trying to voice my grief and get me to come to terms with it. In both Secret Lies and Season’s Meetings there is a similar theme, the death of the main protagonist’s grandmother. In Secret Lies, Jenny is still hurting and struggling to come to terms with the passing of her grandmother years later. While Catherine Birch, in Season’s Meetings is bereft after the recent passing of her Granny Birch. I’m genuinely shocked at the revelation and truly never, not even once, noticed the similarity or made the connection.

In 2007, my grandma, Bridie Dunne passed away from cancer.

Mama Bridie

Mama Bridie

I was away from home, in my final year at university, had just come out, was in a very unhealthy relationship, and was sitting my final exams. I was fortunate that one of my best friends drove me all the way home, so I could visit my grandma in the hospital. She was asleep when I last saw her. I spoke quietly so as not to disturb her. I’m not sure she knew I was there, but I hope with all my heart that she heard what I said and knew how much I loved her. I returned to university that night. A few days later, I received the phone call that she’d passed away.

My biggest regret, is that I hadn’t stayed at home and spent every waking second of those last few days by her side. I don’t think the guilt will ever fade. In truth, I wasn’t mentally or emotionally able to deal with the situation and returning to uni, was my running away from everything. Knowing my grandma as I do, I know she wouldn’t have begrudged my inability to cope.

My grandma was smaller than me in height and not many people can say that. Mama Bridie 2She had a very hard life. But she never stopped laughing. She saw the humour in every situation and loved nothing more than to have a good belly laugh. I still remember her laugh as if I’d only just heard it. Her sense of humour was wicked and the epitome of what makes Irish humour so awesome. I never tired of listening to her stories. She was fiercely ferocious in her protectiveness and love of us.

Her greatest pleasure in live was reading. She’d happily read a book a day. I never remember her not having a book to read. She used to tell us about when she was a young women living at home with her family in Ireland. Her sisters were all about the men. Her mother was keen for the girls to marry well and took it upon herself to judge every prospected suitor. My grandma, had no interest in men. She just wanted to read. She’d tell us about them different men, my granddad included, who used to call at the house to see her. Her mother would shout upstairs for her to come down, and she’d stay exactly where she was, comfortably sat on her bed, reading her book. I think my dad and the rest of us get our love of reading from her.

She also loved action films, which wasn’t surprisingly considering she had four boys. We had a family tradition that we’d all go to mass on Saturday evenings, so we could get up early, and go to the cinema first thing on a Sunday morning. If there wasn’t enough action in the film, she’d happily nod off and snore, only to wake twenty minutes before the end of the film. As soon as she realised that she’d been asleep, she’d burst out laughing. In the end, we’d all be laughing with her.

Whenever we visited her, she’d feed us. (It really is an Irish thing and I’m as bad now, as she was.) It didn’t matter if you were hungry or not, a pork chop or a cheese sandwich would magically appear on a plate in your lap. She loved McDonalds nearly as much as my sister and I did as children. On one occasion, she tried to send me to school with a five pack of Mars bars. I thanked her, but told her I wouldn’t eat them all. Normally, we would have disagreed for a while and she’d always win in the end, but on this occasion she backed down. I immediately became suspicious. A few minutes later, she strode past me, unsuccessfully hiding something beneath her woolen jumper. When I asked her where she was going, she told me, “I’m going to the toilet. Mind your own business.” I started to follow and she said, “I’ll do as I please, thank you.” I waited a few seconds, then peered around the door, to find her shoving the multipack into my coat pocket. I crept back to the sofa and sat down, pretending I hadn’t seen. When I went off to school, she waved goodbye to me with a triumphant grin on her face. Come the first break, I was glad of the chocolate and shared them around with my friends.

Another fond memory I have, is when I was 15. I was staying over for the night in her bungalow, as the next day I was travelling on a school trip to London. At this time in my life I was totally oblivious to my sexuality, but I was secretly a huge fan of the TV show Bad Girls. Usually, I’d watch it in the privacy of my bedroom. On this occasion, I had to resign myself to missing an episode. At half past eight, my grandma went to make us both a drink of Ovaltine. “I must quick,” she said rushing around. “My favourite programme is on soon.” I helped her stir the drinks and asked what programme she was on about. “Oh, it’s great. Them naughty girls,” she said in her Irish accent. Confused, I asked her again what she meant. “Those naughty, naughty, girls in prison. I love it.” With a gasp, I nearly dropped my cup and asked, “Do you mean Bad Girls?” She grinned and nodded. “Aye. I love that show.” So, we settled back down and watched the episode of Bad Girls together. I should point out that I spent most of show with bright red cheeks, avoiding looking at her, and at the TV.

When I went to university I joined the women’s rugby team. When I told my grandma about it, she said, “Oh, I love the rugby. I wish I could’ve had a go at that when I was girl.” It was both of our hopes that she’d get to see me play a match, but unfortunately it never happened.

One Bonfire night, I was drinking Lemon Hooch (which in an alcopop). I offered my grandma a taste and she didn’t hesitate to accept. She took a big swig and said, “That’s nice. I want some of that, too.” So, I poured her a glass and we happily sat, drinking our hooch, and laughing away. Many bottles later, (mostly with me trying to keep up with her) my dad came into the room and shot me a very disapproving look. He asked grandma if he could get her a cup of tea, and in a slurring voice she replied, “No. I want another lemon drink.” He took me outside and told me to stop getting grandma drunk. The problem was, by trying to match her pace I was also drunk. My grandma was fine the next day, but I was dying a slow and painful hangover death. It’s still one of my absolute favourite memories.

Another regret I have, is that I never came out to my grandma. I sometimes wonder if she secretly knew, but I have no doubt whatsoever, that she would’ve accepted me regardless. A little while before she passed away she told my younger sister, “You should marry that tall lad. Go on. You marry him soon.” (A few years later my sister did marry that tall lad.) Then she turned to me and said, “You don’t be worrying about marrying anyone. And if you do decide to marry someone, do it after you’re thirty. There’s no rush. You take it from me.” I wish, with all my heart, that she could have met my wife. They’d have gotten on like a house on fire.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her. I have a huge gaping hole in my heart full of pain and regret and it will never go away. It hurts to remember her, because I miss her so frigging much, but I wouldn’t lessen that hurt even if I could. It’s a good hurt. It reminds me of how much I love her. How much she means to me. How much she inspired my life and helped shape the person I am today. And the more I talk about her and share my memories, the longer her memory lives on.

Both of the grandmothers in Secret Lies and Season’s MeetingsBSB-SeasonsMeetings are incredible women, but they don’t come close in comparison to how incredible my grandma Bridie was. She’s the real inspiration behind both stories. And writing them, has helped me come some way in regards to accepting my grief. It’s been a pleasure being able to share my memories of her with you.

A BSB Author Interview with Brian McNamara

By Connie Ward

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What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I’ve kept a journal since I was fourteen years old and have always enjoyed writing in it. A couple years ago, I had the idea to write a story loosely based on of my senior year of high school. The first chapter that I wrote came surprisingly easily, and then it took off from there. As the story unfolded, it became much more fictional, yet the way in which I’ve written is reminiscent of my journaling. Fiction is especially exciting because it allows me to have a creative outlet, which is a welcomed break from my corporate job!

 

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I feel very connected to my teenage years, and many of my favorite memories reside during that time of my life. It’s so important for teenagers to have visual representations of LGBT individuals who are out and comfortable with who they are. I write Young Adult novels so I can not only reflect back on a wonderful time of my life, but so I can show readers the journeys that LGBT individuals take on their way to self-discovery and how rewarding it is when they come out on the other side. For those readers struggling with self-acceptance, I hope my book will help them live an authentic, out life.

 

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My friends and most of my family are very excited for me, especially because it’s my debut novel. They remind me how proud I should be of my accomplishment. Up until now, I have not shared much of my writing with them, as it has mostly been very personal journaling. I’m eager to have my friends and family read Bottled Up Secret, BSB_Bottled Up Secret_covas they will finally be able to see a cohesive, full-length story that I have written. Some of my family members don’t even know about my novel, but someday maybe they will read it and find that its themes of love and friendship are the same as the ones they experience in their own lives.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

I use events from my life as inspiration but then let them play out in a somewhat alternate world where I can inject fiction. I didn’t want to write a memoir, so as I write, I frequently ask myself, “What if?” This then leads me down a fictional path. The Young Adult genre lends itself to so many great situations as characters transition from adolescence to adulthood. I use these to show how the characters are growing and learning about themselves and about life.

 

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

I plan out a high-level storyline with major events and character arcs, but the most exciting thing about writing for me is discovering how the story unfolds as I write. In some instances, I expected the plot of Bottled Up Secret to go one way, but as I was writing, it became clear to me that a character would choose a different path instead. Because the characters in my novel are clearly defined in my head, they become independent entities, somewhat out of my control. Instead of asking myself, “What do I want this character to do?” I ask, “What would this character do? How would he or she react to this situation?”

 

What makes Bottled Up Secret special to you?

My high-school years were an amazing time for me, so as I was writing this novel, which is about a group of high-school seniors, I was able to reflect on my own experiences during that time. It also became therapeutic as I wrote about the characters’ struggles, which were similar to some of mine. It’s special to me because I think it’s a great story that combines humor, sadness, excitement, and confusion, just like real life does.

 

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

Based on my bio, readers will quickly realize that the main character of Brendan is very much like me. He is the narrator of the book, so it was fun to snap back into my mindset as a seventeen-year-old as I was writing. I had a very close, diverse group of friends in high school, and they were perfect inspirations to use for the other characters in this novel. As for the main love interest in the book, my high-school crush was a big inspiration for him, but after a few chapters, the character quickly took on a life of his own.

 

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?

As a gay man, I often think about my community in the context of our larger society. Alan Downs’s The Velvet Rage is a novel that I found fascinating. It offers good commentary on what it’s like to grow up as gay, especially when a society deems you unequal. Fortunately, I can read that book and be hopeful for the future, as the tide of acceptance is moving very quickly.

 

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write about something in which you have a strong interest. That way, the writing process will be fun and exciting. It won’t feel like work. Also, don’t get discouraged if you have a not-so-productive day of writing. There are days when I sit at my computer, waiting for inspiration to come, but end up throwing in the towel after an hour. Then a few days later, I have a flood of ideas and immediately dash for the nearest pen. That’s what makes the writing process challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

 

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I’m very much into low-key nights with my friends. We go out to dinner, play board games, and go see movies and Broadway shows. As long as there is good conversation and laughter, I don’t care what we’re doing. I grew up doing performing arts, so I also love singing and acting, and have been able to have some experiences with these while living in New York. I also spend a good amount of time at the gym to keep up an active lifestyle, although I wouldn’t call it fun!


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