I picked up Whisper, by Phoebe Kitanidis, from my daughter’s shelf. She is fifteen, so as you might guess, Whisper is a Young Adult novel. The story was entertaining, fast moving, had a nice mix of action and drama, plus family and friend relationships, and even a budding romance. My daughter loved it and I was entertained by it, so it was a win!
What I thought while reading: Like most YA novels these days (including some of my own books: the Whinnies on the Wind series, the Horse Guardian series, and more), Whisper featured a teen who has an extraordinary ability – and I couldn’t help but wonder yet again, why do such a high percentage of YA movies and books feature superhuman teens?
One can say that all demographics enjoy this genre, and that’s true – but the genres available to older readers are far more diverse. We have plenty of non-super protagonists to read about. In YA, the majority of novels include teens with an unusual ability of some sort.
My first thought: having super powers puts protagonists in previously unheard of situations, and therefore may create story interest out of novelty. But then I wonder, after a while wouldn’t reading about a non-super teen become new and fresh? Also, wouldn’t a “normal” character be more relatable?
Maybe the attraction to the super teen is an indicator of how some teens feel powerless in their lives. In the pages of a book, a reader usually feels as powerful as the protagonist, so that very well might be the draw. But do that many teenagers feel powerless? I hope not.
Another option: the super teen phenomena could simply be boredom with the world as it is. Yikes, and almost as sad as the feeling powerless theory. Especially since there is plenty to see in the world when one takes the time to really look.
Maybe it’s because teens are in the process of finding and realizing their own abilities, including those things they’re gifted at. In that case, reading about superhuman teens would be research. And as an aside, it is possible to have a super power. Here’s a list of 50 real-life superhumans.
Then I moved on to the other side of the computer, so to speak. Why do writers write about teens with super gifts?
I can’t speak for other writers of course, but I have tried to infuse my teens’ superpowers with a deeper message. In the case of Evy in the Whinnies on the Wind series, that truth was that we, as the dominant species, need to have compassion for all living creatures and treat them kindly. If, by reading my books, one person does something kind for an animal that they might not otherwise do, then Evy’s superpower has served its purpose.
In Whisper, it is possible that Phoebe Kitanidis also intended to show a deeper truth. Her protagonist’s superpower – to hear others’ thoughts as whispers – gave encouragement to the reader to be authentic to themselves.
Isn’t that something that we all want to hear – or dare I say even need to hear? I believe that on some level, we all know that honoring our most authentic self is how we reach our greatest potential. To me, to be personally authentic is a true super power – and I believe it is to young readers too.
So excited to be off on a new adventure in the morning. I am full of anticipation and dread, a lovely road trip combined with being the only driver for almost 8,000 km. Yikes! But hey, all things are possible, right?
Before I go, I want to do a shout out about my good friend, Ev Bishop, who happens to also be a very talented writer. If you’re into warm hearted romance, I can’t recommend her books enough. Her understanding of human nature simply brings her books to life. 🙂 Even sweeter, the first in her RIVERS SIGH B&B series, Wedding Bands, is now FREE as an e-book, so you can give it a try without risking a penny.
And hey, I guess I should tell you about my book too. The first book in the WHINNIES ON THE WIND series is FREE right now at most e-book sellers. Search for it – Winter of the Crystal Dances – on your favorite e-book site, and if it isn’t free, let me know. I’m happy to contact the seller.
Wishing you all a joyous spring, and for those of you who are travelling, maybe I’ll see you on the road!
I am living this year with the view that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. What this year may include: adventures in travel, career, personal growth, and more. If you didn’t catch my first impressions of beautiful Colombia, click here.
The other day, I did one of my very favorite things. I signed two contracts which will bring two of my juvenile backlist novels to three European countries. There’s nothing better than knowing a book you love will have another life, more readers, more influence, and give more pleasure to readers – unless it’s having TWO BOOKS being released!
I’m not sure of the dates yet, but ABANDONED and WINTER OF CRYSTAL DANCES will soon be released in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. I am so pleased and excited that these two special books will be having a second life!
And to all the future readers in Norway, Sweden, and Finland – my wish for you: may you never run out of books!
There’s no feeling like it: reading over the words one last time, knowing that in a few hours our book will be sent to a waiting publisher.
I feel tense as the action mounts, as the characters get deeper in trouble, as the situation becomes dire, more dangerous, more hopeless. And then, our twin heroes dig deep, and out of the cores of their own beings, call forth true strength and power, not only finding a way to save themselves, but doing so without putting other innocents in danger. Finally free (or so they think, because this is a series and there are nine books to go!), Luna and Sola ride off into the sunset, recommitted to each other and determined to make a peaceful life for themselves somewhere.
I smile and feel the glow inside; it’s a story well told – and it’s all Marina’s (my co-writer) and mine. Very soon we’ll share it with the publisher, editors, translators, illustrators, and finally with our wonderful readers – but for these last few precious hours, Ruler of Shadows is our little jewel, beautiful, untouched, flawed. 🙂 All ours.
No posts yet this year doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything. In fact, I’ve been super busy! Only six weeks into the year and I have a few things going on.
First, I’ve completed the screenplay Undertow which I’ve been working on for a year now. I’m sending it around and am looking forward to hearing some responses. No one’s gotten back yet, but it’s with an agent in Vancouver, a pro reader from the Blacklist, and I just entered it into the Page Awards. Fingers crossed!
Second, the Freedom screenplay is currently being considered by a production company. More on that when things are more solid.
Third, Marina and I finished our first Talismans of Thunder novel, Sola Eclipsed, and it was accepted by Stabenfeldt, with NO changes! We’re already writing the second book, Rover Moon.
Fourth, my short story Falling is coming out in the spring issue of Pulp Literature.
Fifth, my short story The Seventh Procrastination will be in the annual Sooke Writers Collective anthology, available in May.
And last but not least, I figured out the rest of the story for Holy Coyote, and am working on that script now too.
The only thing I haven’t been doing is posting on my blog! Or working on Rain, Day of the Sky Monkeys, or Angel’s Flight, or any of the myriad editing projects I have.
Still, I’m liking 2014!
I just got a message from a reader who used to enjoy my juvenile books:
I just wanted to say that though I have outgrown these books now (and I am sad about that) your books have blessed me a lot and helped me write a story about horses years ago.
I can’t even begin to say what they have done for my Dyslexic friend. I showed her and lent her a few of your books and now she has started to enjoy writing and she wrote a 40 page novel even though before she saw writing as a curse.
The story line each of your books holds is something hard to find in books for a younger audience and I have always enjoyed them and I keep them so when I have little girls of my own, they can read them.
I thank you for the inspiration. They take hold of me and I will always look back at buying one of your books and staying up all night reading it as a fond memory…
A number of things struck home with her email.
First, how fortunate I am that this girl emailed me years ago. She is a bright, vivacious person, and I feel blessed to have become her online friend.
Second, I love that she wanted to share her enjoyment with her own young friend. Isn’t that the way we are? We want to give the things that have meant so much to us to others, and their ensuing enjoyment in our gift gives us joy.
And third, the nature of stories. This one’s a bit harder to explain, so I’ll use the words of a master, Hermann Hesse:
… the river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future.
I think stories exist much in the same way. They may seem to come from nowhere, but actually, they come from everywhere and everything. We ourselves are stories; everything we do, experience, think, desire, everything we perceive through our senses, is connected to our story. Everything that exists has a story, a reason, a purpose for being, no matter how simple, no matter how complex.
And stories in books are one of the bridges between us. My young friend read my book, which came from the story of my life and the myriad stories that I allowed to inspire and change me, and she allowed it to inspire her. My book and all that contributed to it, became part of her. And then she passed that inspiration along, her own story added to mix, and her friend was inspired as well.
We are none of us alone.
A while ago, I thought it might be time to try novels for “big people”. Juvenile novels didn’t seem as challenging to write anymore, and I like to feel I’m constantly learning something.
I started a novel, titled Angel’s Flight, and enjoyed getting to know some adult characters. It was a wonderful experience.
Then a week ago, something changed.
I realized that I needed to choose between novels and screenplays. My time and energy is limited, and if I want to succeed in one of these two genres – which I do! – it’s now time to choose between them. For a variety of reasons, one being ”gut feeling”, I believe screenplays are the best fit for me, despite the fact that it’s a much more competitive world.
That’s not to say that working on Angel’s Flight has been a waste in any way, shape, or form. I loved my time with Vashti and her friends. Angel’s Flight might even make a good movie (with a lot of changes, as screenplays and movies are very different). And even if it never makes it to the screen, I may get back to it someday in its novelistic form.
However, until then, the name of my game is now screenplays – and I cannot deny that it’s a wonderful feeling to realize this! I love the immediacy, the power, the visceral, almost raw, nature of a story in script form.
I hope to start my next script in June, at the latest. I have four ideas on the go, so it’s going to be hard to choose between them!
And I’m still able to get my novel fix, or at least I hope so. I have a proposal out for another twelve book juvenile series. Fingers crossed that it gets picked up!
The writing life is full of ups and downs. Earlier this week, I received this email regarding one of my unpublished short stories:
Dear Angela, Thanks for giving us the opportunity to consider this one. After reading and discussing it, and then holding it for further consideration, we’ve decided to pass on it. We like it, but in the final analysis we receive far more stories that we find likable than we have the space to publish. Good luck placing it elsewhere, and by all means, send us another story.
An awesome rejection, but still a rejection. Sigh…
And then this morning, a lovely email was waiting for me in my inbox informing me of a review done on the first three novels in my Whinnies on the Wind series. Thank you Books, Mud, and Compost. And Horses for the awesome review! I’m feeling much better now. 🙂