We recently got an email (note our email address in the upper right corner, don't be a stranger, send some emails, we love email) from our awesome reader Brittany and she asked...
So I've been reading your blog for a while and love reading about the crazy adventures of writing your first novel and was wondering--since you're all focused on writing in the young adult genre, what one young adult book inspired you to write?
First of all, thank you Brittany, we're glad you're enjoying the blog. Donna, Janine and I decided to answer your question. Sara has the flu so she's excused.
I can't pinpoint one book, actually. I always loved YA and read it obsessively, but once I went to college, I sort of felt embarrassed to hover in the YA section of a bookstore or library -- as if I should have been more intrigued by "grown up" books. What inspired my writing to veer towards YA was the Writing for Children class where the FNC met. I knew I'd be hopeless with younger readers (picture books, etc), so I decided to give YA a whirl to avoid misery and failure. Talk about a eureka moment. Finally, FINALLY, I had found my voice as a writer! There went 21 years of writer's block.
Nearly all of my favorite books were YA, which should've been a big clue. My hands-down favorite in high school was THE CHINA GARDEN by Liz Berry. Also, I must've read THE THIRD EYE by Lois Duncan a hundred times in grade school - that one came out before I was born! Going back to MG novels, one of my favorites was THE TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR LIPSTICK MYSTERY by Bonnie Pryor.
I'm ecstatic about the quality and variety of what's out now, and when I walk into a bookstore or library, I head directly for the YA section.
Some of my favorite books over the years include Anne of Green Gables, The Giver, and The Lord of the Rings. I love the dreaminess and imagination of Anne, the intense ethical questions of The Giver, and, well, just absolutely everything about The Lord of the Rings. It's got poetry, adventure, questions of morality, romance, and layer upon layer of really great storytelling. I've wanted to write for as long as I can remember, and I can't say that one particular book has inspired me. Much of my inspiration comes from books outside the YA genre, but the few mentioned here have come to mean a great deal to me. In general, I just love really good stories--stories with beautiful language, believable characters, and emotionally honest moments. I hope that's how someone will describe my own novel/s one day!
This is a really hard question to answer because I can't say there is one YA book that brought me into the genre. I actually meant to be a middle grade writer, and my MC Lilliana started off as a 13 year old but now she is a feisty 16 year old fully submerged in the world of YA. I think there was a natural progression of my writing various things and drafts until I found myself writing YA and realizing this is where I fit. I really didn't care much about genre, I just knew I wanted to write and I was mostly inspired by myth, beyond specific books or types of books. These are probably the books that influenced me the most: A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Memoirs of Cleopatra, The Princess Bride and The Last Unicorn. Though I will say that Twilight did inspire me to fully explore the romantic relationships in my story. I'm always drawn to strong romantic storylines, and though they appear in fantasy, they always feel like they get brushed to the side and I like all out epic. So now I think I've finally found a way to tell the story I want, full of myths, using the fantasy genre, but also going all out on the romance, I've even taken to calling my book a romantic fantasy, a term that I don't think technically exists.
Hope that answers your question Brittany. Anyone else have a question they'd like to ask? Go ahead and leave it in the comments or send us an email!