Happy Friday! Many thanks to Kelly Lyman for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog series. I've been asked to answer some questions regarding my WIP, which I recently got back from my first beta reader. After a nice three month break, I'm ready to dive back in. So, it felt appropriate to participate and share some things about my project.
THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG SERIES:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I spent a full year exploring the writing process, meeting my protagonist, and seeking out his story. Losing my teaching position put me in a dark place, and the abysmal job market wasn't providing much hope for an early return to happiness. I wanted to translate my emotions into a teen character as a coping mechanism, and I wanted to write as a distraction from my own personal struggles. I researched depression, loneliness, anxiety, and fear of failure; I examined their effects on human behavior and one's quality of life. My research constantly redirected me to an unfortunate epidemic in public education - a trend I experienced as a student and dealt with as a teacher. It was obvious where to go from there.
What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult Contemporary.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
It's hard to say. I have a solid vision of each character engraved in my mind, so it's tough imagining anyone else in the role. Of course, my images are products of my imagination, and not based on real people who could actually take the part. I'd most likely advocate for unknown actors getting the parts. A lot of people are working hard to enter the film industry; I'd be thrilled to see deserving people land the opportunity they've waited for.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Honestly, I don't have one yet. This is one of the last things I'll create before querying, a process I'm still months away from beginning. Had I gone for that extra cup of coffee, I may be tempted to whip something up. Of course, I'd never be satisfied with winging a synopsis, so I'll have to keep you in suspense for now.What I will tell you is the story is set in the real world. It explores repercussions of bullying and peer abuse while aiming to teach empathy and promote universal advocacy.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Three years. The first year was spent experimenting. After unlocking the story I wanted to tell, I spent two years researching and crafting a cohesive draft.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jay Asher's THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, K.M. Walton's CRACKED, and Suzanne Phillips' BURN.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Certain memories from growing up provided the framework. But the turning point was attending a lecture by the parent of a bullied teen. I had seen him once before (he spoke at the school where I first taught), and returned to see him when he visited the school district I attended for high school. The presentation adjusted my motivation; I was no longer writing for personal therapy, I was writing on behalf of real human beings. I was writing to give a voice to kids afraid to speak. And, most importantly, I was writing to encourage a cultural change - one that provides ALL students with a safe school to attend and a positive environment for learning to occur.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The setting - it's not a 'common' setting for YA literature, and I think some readers will appreciate the change. It also tackles tough contemporary issues without, in my opinion, sugarcoating the reality many teens must live through. One of my goals was addressing what some schools/communities prefer ignoring. As Martin Luther Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." If someone takes the time to read one of my novels, I want them to think, question, and gain perspective. My passion for education is evident in my writing, and my passion for writing is evident in my teaching. It's a great partnership.
Since I'm a tad late with my post, I've decided not to mess around with tagging other people. Instead, I'm inviting anyone inclined to answer these questions on your blog.
Have a great weekend, folks! And WELCOME FALL! Pumpkin spice has returned to coffee shops. Football is underway. My fantasy team is 2-0. And if Forte, Jennings, Gates, Mendenhall, and Bradshaw could get their injuries under control, I can finally get some sleep. Cause all five are on my roster!!