Today I have middle-grade teacher and Y.A. author, Jamie Ayres, here to talk about her latest novel, 18 TRUTHS, and how she taps into the elusive young adult side of her. I have to say, I loved her first novel, 18 THINGS, but 18 TRUTHS, knocked my socks off. Make sure you check out both of her books after her guest blog and then add them to your collection today. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave your comments and/or questions for Jamie as she’ll be popping in and out throughout the day.
How Do I Tap Into My YA Side When I Write?
Probably the biggest rule in writing is knowing your audience. When you write primarily for 12-18 year olds, this can be a challenge when you’re well, old(er). Luckily, I’m very immature. And I teach middle school! Very good place to eavesdrop, all in the name of research, of course. Hey, I warn my students ahead of time that everything they say is subject to be fodder for my novels.
It’s important to keep your voice age appropriate (in external and internal dialogue) and preaching is a rule breaker. Talking down to young people doesn’t work in the classroom, and it definitely doesn’t work in books! This doesn’t mean you can’t have a moral message. I certainly strived to have one in 18 Things and 18 Truths. And why not? Part of the beauty of writing for young adults is they’re open to new ideas!
So besides hanging out where teens are (besides school, and I should mention Starbucks!) and eavesdropping, I also talk about TV shows, movies, and music with them. One great thing I did this year was an ongoing Poetry Jam project. Each student picked a Friday to present a song and analyzed it for literary devices, the author’s message, and gave a personal reflection. Hearing what music they’re in to and the struggles they relate it to has kept me in touch with my YA side for sure. Oh, how I wish you could be a fly on the wall for some of these presentations. I’ve cried over at least three of them so far.
Now something that hasn’t changed since I was a teen (a long time ago in a galaxy far away) is every young person has that one thing they can’t live without. Looking back at my journals, it was a boy (I know, so typical). Actually, most adults have one thing they can’t live without as well (at this age, mine is coffee). But when you’re an adult writing for teens, you have to remember that their focus is usually much narrower and short-lived (oooh, squirrel). It is all about “THE” girl or guy, getting on a sports team, getting revenge, being popular, being Homecoming/Prom King/Queen, being elected to student government, passing final exams, or sadly, just surviving another day of bullying.
Most YA authors I talk to think the best way to tap into their YA is to read YA books. I disagree. It’s actually hanging out with them. Not everyone can be a teacher or has a teen living in their house (yes, I have one of those, too). So volunteer at your church’s youth group, teen section at the public library, a local middle or high school, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, etc . . . The real way to staying young is hanging out with young people! What about you? Any other ideas?
Back cover blurb:
Lying is unbearable, betrayal is inevitable, and choosing which path to take is impossible.
Olga Gay Worontzoff ended her senior year as an eighteen-year-old girl totally in love with Nate, enjoying their new romance and about to attend the university of her dreams. Now she’s spending her summer in the weird subculture of the Underworld, with charmingly witty and powerful angels, and problematic demons, trying to rescue Connor, the best friend and secret crush she was unable to save during a freak accident.
But Nate has other things on his mind, mainly Grace. She’s their first assignment as joint spirit guides, and Olga’s feeling hurt and jealous. His mysterious behavior has Olga questioning everything she believed about him and now she must decide whether to stick to their plan, or follow her heart.
Unfortunately, a series of mistakes threatens everyone around her and plants Olga in the center of cosmic events much larger than she ever imagined.
Only one thing is certain: the chilling truths uncovered during her journey will leave no one untouched.
Add 18 Truths to your Goodreads
First Book in the series:
Can eighteen things save a life?
Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.
Then Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible. When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.
All she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her.
But there’s more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.
There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity