I am thrilled to have a guest post from that awesome Shay Fabbro today! Shay recently released the second book in her YA series, Twisted Reflections. I was privileged to be able to read the story prior to publication, and I can honestly say I loved this book!
For more about this series, check out my review of the first book in the series, Dangerous Reflections, over at Writing on the Rocks.
In addition to her newly-released novel, Shay has also recently announced some great news regarding her sci-fi Portals of Destiny series, which you can check out on her site.
Here are a few of Shay’s thoughts on her YA series, the Adventures of Alexis Davenport:
My first book was a scifi/fantasy story that ended up expanding to such a degree that it turned into a trilogy (Portals of Destiny). It was such a blast to write, especially since I grew up reading scifi and fantasy novels. Piers Anthony was my first. A Spell for Chameleon was the first adult fantasy book I ever read. Cut my teeth on Tolkein when I was in middle school. I used to write short sequels (they’d be called novellas today) after reading many of Piers’ books because I didn’t want the story to end! Of course, he would come out with his own sequels but I didn’t care. I was having fun writing. I also grew up watching scifi on TV. Star Trek, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET! It is so amazing being whisked away to a different world and experience an adventure.
When I ventured into writing, it made sense for me to stick to what I knew and loved: scifi/fantasy. The plot worked itself out and I had full synopses written for the Portals of Destiny before I ever started writing the first chapter of The Chosen. The story itself flowed fairly easily and the characters developed naturally and believably (at least I think so).
Then one day while getting ready for work and staring into the mirror, I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be cool to have the reflection change to someone else’s face? Of course the idea of being terrified never entered my mind. I stared at my reflection (which only had make-up on one eye, mind you) almost as if I could force my reflection to change. It never did. I thought about the idea all the way to work and by the time I got to my desk, the idea for Dangerous Reflections was taking shape.
Now, for this book, the heroine was going to be very different. Rather than being an alien from some distant world, or a magic-wielding elf from a forest, she was going to be an average, ordinary, human girl. And to add some depth, I decided to have her be a fifteen year-old girl.
Little did I know how out of my element I was heading!
I have never really read much young adult (YA) books. When I was younger, I tried to read Judy Blume and all that but it just didn’t hold my interest. A few years ago I forced myself to read Twilight and couldn’t wait to be done. Sorry for all the Twi-hards out there but for me, the book was wretched. I hated Bella from the start and that made it hard to sympathize with her.
When it came to starting on Dangerous Reflections, I tackled it like I did my scifi/fantasy stuff. And boy, was that the WRONG way to tackle it!
I had the opportunity to send several sample chapters to an agent (through someone’s blog) and she gave me some invaluable advice. I made the huge mistake of trying to write a YA book without understanding what elements make a YA book, well… a YA book!
The biggest thing I had to deal with was the point of view (POV). For my scifi/fantasy books, I had many different POVs since I had more than one main character. Each of them is important and showing the world through their eyes in a vital component in letting the reader get a glimpse into their motivations and helps with the empathy. Some of my characters seem harsh and despicable until you read things from their POV. The reader gets a chance to see how these characters see the world. I personally think the real world needs to take a lesson in POV; if we spent as much time seeing the world from an enemies eyes, we may find we have much more in common than we realize.
Now, in the case of YA, the POV is the main character and that’s it. I was adding the POVs of Alex’s mother and aunt. This lovely agent pointed out that teens don’t give a rat’s ass about what adults are thinking or feeling, in real life and especially in what they read. I had to use some creativity to let the possible adult readers (and they WILL care about what the adult’s motives are) know what makes the adults in the story tick. I ended up having Alex overhead (well, eavesdrop actually) a conversation between her mother and her aunt where she learns some very disturbing news about her father. And it worked brilliantly! The reader then knows what caused the rift between the mother and aunt, and they then get to read about Alex’s reaction to hearing an adult conversation that was clearly not meant for teen ears. Haven’t we all done that at some point? You get all hot and sweaty and can’t breathe. You don’t want to hear more and yet you can’t move from the spot.
I also had to really think about what motivates teens and think back to when I was that age (and it was a long time ago! LOL) and what things were important to me. And it was much different than what’s important to an adult character. I had to dredge up some painful memories of how I treated my folks and times when I hurt them deeply because I lashed out about some stupid thing or other. But that’s the thing! To a teenager, everything is the end of the world and it’s all about the drama.
Another bit of advice I got was to write dialog and internal dialog as teens would speak. My fantasy novels don’t use a ton of contractions since not every species in the universe will speak the same. But here on Earth, nearly everyone speaks with contractions and they speak very informally. Teens especially. One thing I did was to really listen to how teens talk. And I was shocked and saddened by the language I heard and the slang they use. Now, in YA, you can’t have explicit sex or harsh language. Sooooo, I had to have a happy medium: realistic dialog without all of the f-bombs and other inappropriate language. But I think I did pretty good. I also had this feeling that I wanted to make my teens sound like they are somewhat educated. I realize that you want to reach a target audience but there’s nothing wrong with developing characters that have traits that should be admired. Alex is a very smart student and has an uncanny knack for memorizing historical knowledge (which comes in handy for her time traveling through the mirror). I think having a character that is a “nerd” is something that will appeal to all sorts of readers. And it shows that there’s nothing wrong with being studious
To read excerpts, visit my website at www.shayfabbro.com
Follow me on Twitter (@DrShayFabbro) or Facebook (on the Alexis Davenport fanpage).
Shay Fabbro was born in Longmont, CO and moved to the town of Grand Junction, CO in the early 1980′s. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Mesa State College before earning her doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. Dr. Fabbro currently lives in Grand Junction with her husband, Rich, and their two cats. When not writing novels, she teaches biology classes at Mesa State College. She is hard at work on the second novel in the Portals of Destiny series, Shattered Destiny, as well as a new young adult series, The
Adventures of Alexis Davenport.You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Thank you so much for visiting today, Shay!!