Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 14 comments
Curious about what I've been up to in my creative life? Today I talk about my current project, what sets this story apart, why certain themes emerge in my work, and how I write.

This is part of a Kidlit Blog Tour, for which I've been tagged by the lovely Melissa Sarno and Faith Elizabeth Hough. Thanks, friends!

What are you working on right now?

The Louvre (photo by priyanphoenix from morguefile.com)
I'm about 2/3 through a sequel to Never Gone, working title Almost There. The summer after Dani's junior year, she plans to take an art-filled, family bonding trip to Paris.  But a crisis arises with her grandfather, threatening not only her trip, but her mother's fragile mental health. Dani wants to keep their involvement to a minimum, but her attempts at quick damage control only get them more stuck. When her clever schemes to manufacture happiness for herself and others fall apart, can she trust God to redeem the mess?

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Most YA fiction tends to separate kids from their families and never deals with inter-generational patterns of dysfunction. But so many kids experience this in real life. I tackle this from inside a faith tradition that calls us to have hope for the most seemingly hopeless situations. I also explore the joys and challenges of having a serious romantic relationship when you're young. Most YA books deal with starting brand-new romances rather than maintaining and growing them for the long haul.

Why do you write what you do?

I see kids struggling to be real in a culture that glorifies superficiality. When beauty, strength and charisma are idolized, all the ways we are broken never see the light, never have a chance to heal. Instead they fester under the surface, filling our lives with poison. I write about kids in crisis who learn to let go of their pretensions and falseness and allow God to remake them as people who humbly hope, believe, and love.

How does your writing process work?

So far, it has been largely voice-driven. I begin with a character who speaks to me and listen to what she tells me about her background and situation. From there, I daydream and research until I have a sketchy sense of some of the most important plot points. I write and rewrite the opening chapters until they let me go forward (and that can take a very long time). That draftivising process goes on into the story middle, which will at times call for more research until the events of the climax really gel. Then I write out notes about all the events needed to get me there and steadily create scene after scene. The back end of the book writes much faster than the beginning.

I always revise as I go, and usually begin to garner feedback from my writing group once I've gotten the opening to my liking. I find I need other voices to walk me through the story middle, and keep me from making wrong turns that are out of character, based on the opening.

Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?

Find a writing process that works with your lifestyle and temperament. There's not a one-size-fits-all way to make literature. If a process is truly uncomfortable, you'll simply stop. So find a method that's energizing and plays to your strengths. You're better able to tackle your weaknesses from a place of confidence than a place of doubt.

My nominees to answer these questions are C.M. Keller and Melanie Schulz.

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14 comments:

  1. Thanks, Laurel, for the nomination! And I can't wait to read the sequel to Never Gone.

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    1. Hope you're able to find the time to do it. I'd love to hear about your projects and process.

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  2. I like that you call it draftivising! Good luck with your sequel!!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. I had to coin a term to describe my process, which works for me and I've learned to embrace rather than apologize for. :-) Thanks for the well-wishes. I had a really productive few months. Here's hoping the streak can continue.

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  3. Yay, I love this Laurel! I also like to deal with inter-generational dysfunction in my books. And I love what you say about writing a book that deals with longer-term relationships. I've never really thought of that before but I read so few books that handle that...

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    1. Cool. I'm always fascinated with family or origin stuff, especially how choices of previous generations radiate into the present.

      Yeah, romantic commitment isn't common in teen literature. Deb Caletti's The Fortunes of Indigo Skye is one of the few books I can think of that has a committed teen couple. I find it interesting to explore what it's like to be serious with someone at 17 with all the ups and downs typical for the age. It's a very different kind of drama than the usual romance plot.

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  4. I actually just headed over here with the intention of tagging you as well. :) I guess Melissa beat me to it!

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    1. No biggie, Faith. I'll add a backlink to you right now. And Voila, you've tagged me. :-)

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  5. Sounds like a great idea, and I loved the insight into your process!

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    1. I hope it is. I swear it's the character's idea. Probably sounds crazy, but that's how voice-driven fiction works.

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  6. I particpated in this blog tour. My problem is that sometimes when I say I'm going to be working on something it changes or the title changes! Sounds like a wonderful story and something kids to hear more of!

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    1. If you'd asked me a year ago, I would have given a much more sketchy answer. You're right that work can shift dramatically while in process. Titles especially. My crit group makes us put a "working title" to everything. This is my second for this work, and it will likely change.

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  7. I look forward to the sequel of Never Gone, Laurel. And the new book cover is beautiful. I understand how the 'back-end' of the book can write first. I tend to have the last sentence written before the first in my short pieces! The writing process is unique to all of us. Thank you for sharing yours.

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    1. Thanks so much, Lynn. Voice-driven writing involves a lot of experimentation in the beginning, then things eventually gel. Now that I know the characters better, and the main conflicts are set up, I hope to be able to draft the last 1/3 somewhat faster. We'll see!

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