Monday, July 31, 2006

RWA Workshop on YA continued...


(Thought y'all would like to see to whom you're addressing your questions. So behold Chicken!)

For those of you who attended my Thursday morning workshop in Atlanta on "How to Create Believable YA Characters" I say a big THANK YOU for being such a fabulous audience! My wonderfully talented daughter and co-author of our paranormal YA series for St. Martin's Press, THE HOUSE OF NIGHT, could not make the w/s in Atlanta (she's working ridiculous 12 hour shifts, as well as taking 6 hours of class this summer at NSU). So the deal is that we'll post questions for Kristin here on my blog, and she will blog in and answer them for you. Some of you wrote questions on notecards during the w/s. Okay. I had the notecards. I promise. Really. (KRISTIN - REALLY, MAMA HAD THE NOTECARDS!) I unpacked this morning and could NOT find them. Sigh.

BUT I read the questions and I do remember several of them. I'll post them below. Kristin will respond, and the rest of y'all please feel free to chime in with any question you'd like to ask Kristin (who is 19) about YA, teenagers, writing in general, etc.

Questions for Kristin:

1. Do you think it matters if you're living in one part of the country and writing about teenagers in another part of the country? Like I'm living in D.C. and I'm setting my book in L.A. Or should I worry about making my teenagers more generic, so they'll appeal to a wide audience? For instance, I know that some of the stuff you (and your mom) are writing about is specific to Oklahoma teens. Do you worry about the rest of the country not getting it? And if so, what do you do about that?

2. There's a big debate going on over how much sex to put in YA books. What's your opinion? And have you and your mom had any issues between the two of you about the sex level of your series?

3. Do all teens cuss? What if I have a futuristic or fantasy setting?

4. What is the most common mistake adult authors make when writing for teenagers?


Okay KRISTIN FRANCES CAST (KFC, or as we like to call her, Chicken - hee hee) answer away mama's precious!

16 comments:

Kathy said...

P.C. I am 30 years old. But I BEG you, never start chatting with my Mom about names to call your kids. She already has enough little insults without getting help. Kristin, you have my sympathy. Chicken. Leave it to parents to come up with a million ways to make their kids blush. Thank the gods we kids have a million more ways to get even.:-) After all, now matter how old we get...I'm 30 remember...you parents will always be older.:-)

moonhart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda Brice said...

PC, thanks so much for doing this. I was at your workshop and it was a lot of fun.

Kristen, I know that there are a lot of teen-themed movies out, particularly during the summer. Could you recommend some good ones? My YA is for the younger end of the YA spectrum (slightly older than middle grade, but not quite the age of true "YA"). My heroine is 15 and I anticipate the story being interesting to 12-15 year-olds. What are some good pop culture resources for that age level?

cin said...

PC, I was at the workshop (in the very, very back as it was so freaking full), and loved it. The YA series sound amazing!!

Kristin-

Would you use the words wimp or wuss, or is there a "newer" word used to describe someone who is being scared. Edgier the better for this particular character.

Thx! Cindy
Thanks!

PC Cast said...

Okay guys - we're having a minor computer glitch. Kristin's lap top is dying and for some reason the computers at the NSU lab won't let her post to this blog. So first she wants me to let y'all know that she hasn't been ignorning your questions and that it's been driving her crazy that she can't get her answers posted. Second, she sent me her answers so I'm posting them below.

Amanda - Kristin told me that the 12-15 age group is too young for her, so she's not clued into their pop culture, and she said to tell you sorry.

Cin- just be a little patient and I'll get Kristin's answer posted for you.

Here are the first set of CHICKEN'S (hee hee) answers:

1. Do you think it matters if you're living in one part of the country and writing about teenagers in another part of the country? Like I'm living in D.C. and I'm setting my book in L.A. Or should I worry about making my teenagers more generic, so they'll appeal to a wide audience? For instance, I know that some of the stuff you (and your mom) are writing about is specific to Oklahoma teens. Do you worry about the rest of the country not getting it? And if so, what do you do about that?

Actually, I haven’t ever really thought about it that much. I try to focus on making my characters believable to anyone regardless of their location. So my answer would be no, I don’t worry about it; if you make a universal character who the reader will identify with, the facts about what state they’re in can be added as flair, because your audience will be emotionally connected with your character. For example, Zoey should be able to be taken out of Oklahoma and dropped in the middle of Alaska and still create the same emotional response, if not, I haven’t made her realistic.

2. There's a big debate going on over how much sex to put in YA books. What's your opinion? And have you and your mom had any issues between the two of you about the sex level of your series?

My mom and I haven’t discussed the sex level that much, but I don’t think you can put too little sex in a YA novel. Sure, it needs to be mentioned and maybe there can even be a minor conflict about it, but it’s not as big of a deal as Oprah’s specials have made it out to be. It’s there, and teenagers too young to emotionally handle it are having sex, but I can’t remember ever sitting at the lunch table snickering about who was ‘doing it’ with whom. I think if you as an author are comfortable with it, as well as any other topic, it will work itself in naturally and in some cases that may mean not at all.
P.S. : I remember being between the ages of 12 and 17, and it embarrassing me when there were big sex scenes, or chapters about some sexual mishap. So, for every one teen that is fine with a bunch of sex in their YA novels (well, girls anyway), I would say there are at least 4 more who would rather have their father tell them about the wonderful world of tampons.

3. Do all teens cuss? What if I have a futuristic or fantasy setting?

I don’t cuss, and I haven’t ever. I don’t think it’s very lady like to be honest. (Yes, I have a tendency to be a little nerdy.) But, a lot of teens do cuss and have been since they were about 13, so I think it should definitely make an appearance in any novel. If you’re concerned with cussing in a futuristic or fantasy setting, you should rent Firefly, (if you haven’t already seen it). The characters are set in a futuristic/fantasy setting and they have very interesting Chinese/American curse words which are in no way offensive. It is your novel and if you want to have cussing with or without the modern day curse words, you are definitely free to – it’s your world… have fun with it!

4. What is the most common mistake adult authors make when writing for teenagers?

I think the most common mistake authors make is that they pick an extreme. I feel that more often than not, an author’s voice is that of the most popular ‘in crowd’ teens, or they are the really depressed ‘I have nothing left to live for and life sucks’ group. In real life, the majority of teenagers don’t like either of those clicks, and that’s why they only hang out with other cool or depressed kids. You need at least one character who is in the middle, if not it’s just not believable and it gets really annoying.

Kathy: P.C. I am 30 years old. But I BEG you, never start chatting with my Mom about names to call your kids. She already has enough little insults without getting help. Kristin, you have my sympathy. Chicken. Leave it to parents to come up with a million ways to make their kids blush. Thank the gods we kids have a million more ways to get even.:-) After all, now matter how old we get...I'm 30 remember...you parents will always be older.:-)

Thank you so much Kathy, us kids have to stick together. The person who is worse than my mom though is my Grandpa, (or Gpa as he is more commonly called). He finds it entertaining to make up names that aren’t even in the dictionary, and like an elephant, he never forgets them!

PC Cast said...

Cindy - Kristin wants more info. Is the character who's doing the name calling male or female? And what is the whimpy character being whimpy about?

cin said...

Oh Wow, personal attention- LOVE IT!

OK- here's the actual line:

"But Kori was chastising me for always wimping out on her with stuff like this..."

It is in reference to being pressured into getting her tongue pierced by her best friend. Kori is trying to convince her to overcome her fear of pain. Both characters are girls- technically the main character is paraphrasing Kori, who is often on the blunt side.

Hope that helps put it into context. Thanks so much! And your other answers are great! Wish you could have come to Atlanta. :-(

Cindy

PC Cast said...

Cindy - Kristin is coming home tomorrow (Sunday) and I'll have her post her answer from my computer. (She's coming into town so we can see if we can have her lap top repaired or if I need to get her a new one. Uh, please light a candle for getting it repaired...cheaply...)

Kathy said...

Best Buy repairs electronics for a good price. I suggest them.

PC Cast said...

Kathy - that'll be our second stop. She got the lap top at Circuit City, so we're taking it there first.

Sigh.

PC Cast said...

Cindy - Sorry, I've been remiss in posting Kristin's answer. I'm drowning in deadlines right now...sigh. Here goes:

Cindy, I'm more concerned with your teenage character using language like "chastising" than whimpy. Unless you've set it up so that your heroine is very dorky and tends to use more adult language (which is fine, but you do have to write her character that way and make it believable as to why she'd be like that) that sounds way too old. It's more likely a teenager would use language like: "As usual, Kori was telling me how much I suck for having the good sense not to drill holes in my body, which she calls being too scared. Whatever."

Does that help?

Kristin

Kathy said...

Did you get the laptop fixed?

PC Cast said...

Hell no. The lap top was totally dead. I had to buy her a new one. Sigh. But she's making me proud in college, so I know it's being put to good use. Actually, Kristin will be on line as soon as the computer folks at NSU come by her dorm and do whatever they need to do so that her access is turned on.

Kathy said...

Sorry P.C. but that was probably cheaper than trying to fix it. Computers are great when they work, but when they don't they are a royal headache.

cin said...

Thanks Kristin- I had a feeling you were going to say that about chastising. She does use "bigger words" a lot and gets made fun of for it, so it is in character, but I think I will still change it as your suggestion has inspired another phrasing...Thanks!

:-( re: laptop

Cin

PC Cast said...

Glad Kristin could help Cindy!

Kathy - yeah, I hated to let loose the $$, but now I don't have to worry about her not having a computer in college and trying to scramble around between her work and school schedules to get to the campus computer lab. And since this time I was in charge of the money (versus my ex-husband) I made sure to buy the super-duper warrenty plan, so that if anything goes wrong during the next 4 years the lap top is replaced, which will take Kristin through her BS. So it was temporarily expensive, but in the long run well worth the money.