Many, many stories built me and fed me and made me want this. The most notable would be Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Harry Potter by JK Rowling, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin, as well as many films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, and so on. I’ve been consuming stories since I became sentient and I don’t see that ever stopping.
I’m not able to talk about it specifically for a while, and will be divulging more through my upcoming newsletters. But I can say it’s another Young Adult series, and will be a high fantasy ensemble story, centering on a teenage girl forced to become a hero when she doesn’t believe heroes exist. I’m having a great time writing it, and I’m very nervous/excited to publish it in the future. More info to come!
It’s what I call any new project that I turn my attention to. Especially in early days, it feels like playing in a new sandbox where I can build or break anything I want. For now, this is how I’m referring to the new project that will be my next published work.
It honestly depends. I’ve found stories or catalysts for stories in everything from a plain old brainstorming session at my desk to a museum exhibit in another country. But largely I ruminate on what I love and what I don’t love – how can I embrace the former and shift the latter? And this is a tactic from my screenwriting education, but I like to distill stories into easy, pitchable parts. Something I can say that another person would automatically get. It’s this meets that. For example, for Red Queen, I say it’s Game of Thrones meets X-Men meets Hunger Games. That usually works best, and quickly, to communicate what the story is to potential audience.
Obviously, age is a factor. You need characters who are, you know, young adults. For me that means anyone between the ages of 15-19ish, with 19 being on the cusp and story-specific. I also think there’s wiggle room based on say, inhuman characters. But a key has to be some sort of coming of age/realizing who you are, and choosing who you want to be. It’s something all teenagers struggle with, and it unites us in that time period. Characters need to reflect that. That has to be a major question of the story. Who am I? Who am I becoming? Do I like it? Can I help it? Can I stop it? And so forth.
Personally, I’m a straight, white, cisgendered, and well-educated woman in a field that favors all those things. Not to mention I have a very supportive family structure. So I was already playing the game with a big leg up. My obstacles existed, but they were far from terrible. Many of them are in my head. But that’s not a small thing either. Self-doubt and mental health are huge for us, as is the ever present impostor system. The best I can do is tell myself I’m not alone in thinking everything is about to fall apart, or that I don’t deserve my career. I’ve largely been in a position where if I put my head down and do the work, good things have followed. I know that’s nowhere near the norm, and perhaps not helpful, but I think it’s important to be upfront about this kind of thing. The biggest challenge has been believing in myself and my work, and sometimes that can be insurmountable. But we push through, don’t we?