Chat with Author Brenda Maxfield
today at the Book Boost!
Go to the Source!
Hello Friends! As a writer of clean Young Adult fiction, I’m always on the look-out for plot lines. I teach high school, which as a writer is a blessing. My students are extremely generous with me, letting me into their lives. Many times, when I’m starting class, a student will mouth, “Can I talk to you?” So as soon as I get things underway, I’ll pull them out into the hall. There, they’ll tell me what they’re worried about or whom they’re having trouble with or what disaster has happened.
I am honored they trust me.
I get to listen to their hearts, assure them they’re not alone and share encouraging words. And while doing so, I marvel — at their courage, their determination, their resilience.
It’s astounding really.
This is not to say I steal their lives and give them to my characters. But listening to them, I learn again and again where teens are coming from, what they have to do to survive, and how they learn to endure.
A couple weeks ago, I was part of a group of authors at my city library’s huge teen event. Each author was given the freedom to share as they wished. What a thrill to be able to listen to the talks of such great authors as SA Bodeen, Mike Mullin, and Steve Sheinkin. They were amazing and inspirational. I heard their life stories, their beginnings as writers, their historical adventures, and even how volcanoes erupt!
When it was my turn, I decided to have the students help me with my latest work. (The Bonfire, due out this summer.) I had placards with each character’s name. I called for volunteers, giving each teen one of the placards. I gave the backstory and a few characteristics of each character. Then I opened it up for plot ideas.
The room erupted. Every teen yelled out their thoughts. I appointed one teen to keep track of everything on the whiteboard. I ran around the room, trying to capture it all. More than once, the rumble of ideas grew so loud, I couldn’t hear anybody. I grabbed the microphone hanging around my neck and spoke directly into it so everyone could take turns. It was happy bedlam!
As a teacher, I’m not fond of this kind of chaos. But as an author, I loved it. I’d never seen such focused confusion. Every single teen was on fire.
Some of the kids’ plot lines I’d already considered. Others stopped me cold. If I’d dreamed for years, I wouldn’t have come up with such zany ideas. When my time with them was drawing to a close, I gave out my email and asked them to mail any further thoughts. (I no sooner got home when emails began arriving.)
I’m not sure when I’ve had so much fun. It made me stop and think. Those kids loved giving me ideas and I loved receiving them. Perhaps this should be a regular practice . . .
Some of the kids in the audience that Saturday were my students. The next week, those who attended were still greeting me with plot lines in the hallway at school.
I was reminded that while writing can be a very solitary activity, there are moments when it’s a community affair.
Just ask those couple hundred students who attended the library teen event!
A Note from the Book Boost: This event sounds great and I love how they became energetic and excited to participate. We often times worry about the today's youth and this sounds like a positive way for them to use that energy. Thanks for joining us and please tell us more about your new release!
When it comes to love, sophomore Emili Jones is famous for brainless decisions. At her new school, she falls for Jordan Lawman but stuffs down her feelings, believing they can only lead to pain. When Laine Meadow, the reigning social queen, sets her sights on Jordan and senses competition in Emili, war is declared.
On top of Laine’s jealous torment, Emili struggles to help her little sister who suffers from selective mutism and will speak only to Emili. Her mother’s suspicious behavior and her father’s job loss add to the turmoil.
Can Emili save them all while learning to love again?
Laine was at EC — was there no escaping her? When I walked in, she looked up and for a split second, I saw fire flare from her eyes. “Emili, you lost?” she asked in a voice pulsing with irritation.
“Isn’t this Environmental Club?”
She jumped from her chair and came over to me. “Are you joining? Don’t you think it might be too much? I mean, a new school, and already on decorations committee for the ball?”
I regarded her expression, and noted the hint of desperation lurking behind her cool façade. “I think I can handle it.”
There was an awkward silence, and I thought she was going to forbid me to join. Then she broke into a stiff smile which didn’t reach her eyes.
“Okay, listen up!” She looked around the room and everyone gave her their attention. “This is Emili. She’s a sophomore, and she’s new here. She’ll be joining us.”
I raised my arm in a half-wave and sank into a chair. On my left sat the most gorgeous guy I’d ever seen. His smooth chestnut hair swooped over his deep toffee eyes. He sat relaxed, dominating the chair with his size. I saw how his broad shoulders strained the fabric of his Nike T-shirt. A shiver crawled up my spine. I couldn’t help it, I stared.
Was this Jordan, the guy I’d decided to avoid?
Want More Brenda?
Visit her on the web here: http://www.brendamaxfield.com
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