Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reading, Writing & Fan Fiction with Guest Blogger: R.A. Gates

Welcome Young Adult Romance author 
R.A. Gates to the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about how she got her start in writing and here's what she had to say...

It’s that time of year again, when parents do the happy dance as they boot the youngins out the door to go back to school. Ah, peace and quiet— just what I need for writing. I have one in kindergarten, one in fourth grade, and my oldest daughter is now a freshman. Yikes!

As I looked over my high-schooler’s schedule, I was flabbergasted. She has three Honors classes: Honors English, Honors Biology and Honors Geometry— for a freshman! I didn’t even realize there was such a beast. I didn’t have these classes (of the non-honors kind) until I was a sophomore. I just hope she doesn’t look to me to help with her homework.

I believe my daughter is doing so well in school because ever since she could read, she’s had her nose in a book. Seriously. Even for short trips in the car, she brings a book to read. She’s already read many of the required books for her English class this year, books I didn’t read until I was an upper classman. When I was her age, I didn’t read much beyond the Sweet Valley High series and Tiger Beat magazines. I had a huge crush on Ralph Macchio.

One of her favorite genres is young adult urban fantasies. She was eleven years old when she read the Twilight saga. And yes, I let her read book four. But, I did sit her down to have “the talk” before I let her read the House of Night series. That one really pushes the boundaries of young adult fiction. I try to be aware of her reading material, but even perfect parents like myself make mistakes (I really thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was YA).

It was my daughter that got me hooked on urban fantasy, and reading in general. How backward is that? And although I have read the fantasy books geared toward adults, I prefer to read young adult. Part of it is because I can discuss the books with my daughter, but another reason is because it makes me feel young again. Not that I’m ancient by any means, but experiencing the thrill of first love with every new story can be exhilarating. 

One of the series my daughter and I fell in love with was the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The main character is a very tough, yet flawed, young woman I couldn’t help but root for. It was during that agonizing waiting time between books that I found fan fiction. Holy moly! Before me were hundreds of amateur stories using the worlds and characters from my favorite books. And it was all free. I was addicted. It didn’t take long before I thought about throwing my hat in the ring and writing a Vampire Academy fan fiction story of my own. After the first couple glowing reviews of my posted chapters, I was hooked. Three stories later, and ample encouragement from my fans, I decided to write my own book.

My daughter and I spent many hours picking apart all the books we’ve read; what we liked about them and what we didn’t. While we disagree on certain points in regards to the heroes (she’s on Team Jacob and I’m on Team Edward) we both agree that the heroines need to be smart, self-sufficient, and sarcastic. But they also need to be damaged in some way. Perfect is boring and offers no way for the character to grow. Recalling those discussions came in handy as I wrote Pucker Up. I also use my daughter as a guide to make sure I’m staying current and not sounding like a mom. It thrills me to hear her laugh at a bit of funny dialogue. It also helps that I never really matured past 16.

In the end, my main goal was to write a story that I would be proud to have my daughter read and that she would enjoy. She said I accomplished that goal. Of course, my kindergartener insists that my stories need more unicorns. That will have to wait for another book.

A Note from the Book Boost:  So glad you joined us today!  What a fantastic post!  I love that your daughter helps you with your book "research" and tell her that we are Team Jacob all the way here at the Boost.  But, like you, I had that Karate Kid crush way back when (ahem--age revealing--ahem)  And, yay for unicorns--my 4 year old agrees.  Please tell us more about your great new book.


 Ivy doesn't want to kiss a dead guy.

The seventeen-year-old witch always thought that breaking a curse with True Love's Kiss was the ultimate romantic gesture in fairy tales. But when she has to plant one on a prince who’s been dead for 200 years, it's just gross.

Nevertheless, if Ivy wants to help keep her town hidden from witch-hunting Eradicators, kiss him she must. She just has to find him first. After putting up with dragons, vampires and one too many necrophilia jokes from Garren— the annoying and NOT hot, self-appointed body guard— will she take one for the team and PUCKER UP?

Excerpt (edited for length):

“You want me to do what?” Ivy asked. The first place Wizard Martial Arts trophy she had been admiring slipped through her fingers and fell to the floor. The clank echoed throughout Thane and Garren's bedroom as it hit the hardwood.

"Kiss— Prince— Sebastian,” Thane said as he leaned back in his chair, the wood creaking in protest. Green eyes peered through wisps of blond hair, accentuating the soft contours of his choir boy face. He was every mother’s dream for her little girl; respectable, handsome and totally non-threatening. But that wholesome, All-American-Kid persona he had going on was an act. Something sick and twisted lurked beneath the surface.

She thought he wanted to discuss family trees, not disgust the hell out of her. The very idea was... was... just gross. On top of that, he had the nerve to roll his eyes at her. Her! She wasn't the one who had lost her mind.

Garren, Thane's stepbrother, listened to the conversation from his bed. He sauntered over to her, picked up the dented trophy and placed it back on the shelf. He was the polar opposite of her cousin in every way. Arresting blue eyes, with the power to make otherwise intelligent teenage girls abandon all common sense, peeked out from behind locks of black hair. Add his sharp facial features and muscular build, he was who the daughters drooled over. 

One hand still on the ledge above her shoulder, he leaned in and flashed a cocky smile. “You should do it, Ivy. It might be the only chance you get to kiss a guy.” 

She bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from responding to his childish jibe. She didn't like him being so close, afraid he'd see the bruises she tried to hide under her curly hair. After a brief stare-down, he turned and flopped down on his unmade bed. His cheap cologne lingered in the air, tickling her nose.

She backed up into the wall and crossed her arms over her chest, obscuring the band logo displayed across her baggy, black t-shirt. She eyed each boy warily. “Is this a joke? Because if it is—”

“No, no.” Thane threw his hands up in surrender, shaking his head. 

Her narrowed eyes regarded Garren, the boy who'd been the bane of her existence since she arrived in the small Alaska town. This could be one of his practical jokes.

But Thane wasn't the type to tease people. On the contrary, being smart and a bit socially awkward, he was picked on quite a bit. He wouldn't go along with his stepbrother, would he?

She turned to her cousin. “But Prince Sebastian's been dead for two hundred years. That's disgusting, immoral, and I'm pretty sure illegal.”  Was she the only one who thought this was wrong? 

“Technically, he was cursed, not killed,” Thane clarified. 

“I fail to see the difference.” She turned around to crack the window open. The smell of sweaty socks and low tide made her woozy. “Are you guys storing bait in here?” She shuddered at the thought of what could be lurking under the piles of filthy clothes crammed in the corners. She stuffed her hands in her pockets to keep from getting contaminated.

Garren glared at her. “No. My hockey uniform still reeks of spoiled halibut. I still owe you for that.”

She smiled. That was one of her better pranks. He deserved it after announcing to the entire cafeteria that she was in need of a more effective soap.  “You started it.”

Garren moved to get up, but Thane beat him to it and stood between the two. “That's enough. Can we focus?”

Want More R.A.?

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caroline hanson said...

It's always nice to know what goes on with the author and what inspired them. Thanks for an interesting post!!

inspired2write said...

Pucker Up is clearly a fun new twist on an old fairytale, and I liked the sarcastic humor. It's neat that you have a creative outlet that can not only be shared with your daugher, but with the rest of us. I look forward to more from you, because I love to read YA too.

Lauren S said...

Great post! Loved that you thought 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' was YA. Lol. I can't wait to read the book. I think I'll wait a few years to have my kids read it though. ;)

Roxanne said...

Love how it was your daughter that turned you onto the genre. Being able to share that connection is pretty awesome.