Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yeah. Why DO I Write YA Paranormal?

Anne here. So I guess we’re taking a look at the question: Why do we write what we write?

My debut (currently titled LIES BENEATH) is not the first novel I ever wrote. I venture that’s true for most of us. The first novel I attempted was adult, historical fiction about the textile workers' strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I researched it for years. It took me two years to write. I thought it was so unbelievably awesome!

It wasn’t.

My second novel was adult, commercial fiction. It was better. It got the attention of a few agents, but in the end no one signed me. Then my son, who was 11 at the time, whined that there was “nothing good to read.” So I wrote a MG novel for him, called FOR WEASEL. Something just felt right about writing for a younger audience. My voice clicked. Nothing felt forced like it had before. That “rightness” showed in the writing, and that novel got me my agent (more on that later, August 29!).

My debut, however, is my fourth novel. By the time I got down to writing it, I already knew I was most comfortable in the MG/YA world--not to mention, those were the books I was reading and enjoying myself. So the answer to the first question: Why do I write YA? Because that’s what I read!

Now. Why Paranormal? With LIES BENEATH, it was the setting--not the paranormal element--that came first. Growing up, I spent my summers on Lake Superior. I was always spooked by the saying, “Lake Superior doesn’t give up its dead.” I was also curious about the ancient history of the lake, its enormity, the cliffs, islands, and caves,

its freezing temperatures, and its sudden and surprising storms. It was a no-brainer that my characters would surface from that lake.

So when Calder White, a merman and the only brother in a dysfunctional family of mermaid assassins, stepped up to tell his story, it felt natural and normal--not paranormal at all, actually. The issues he tackles (betrayal, loyalty, insecurity, the need to conform) are issues most teens face. Which, I guess, is why he feels like a guy you might meet on the street, or at the beach, or behind the counter at your local coffee shop. Okay, okay, so maybe he's not your typical guy. He does morph from fin to legs. And admittedly, I didn't know any guys in high school who plotted murders and wrestled with sea creatures, but--c'mon-- aren’t we all just a little paranormal at heart? last thing...why write paranormal? Because it’s super fun to make stuff up!


  1. Hi Anne! Sounds like a really interesting book!

  2. Anne, that saying always spooked me too - and the song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" too :)
    Its funny the paths we take until we find our voices. I am stoked to read LIES BENEATH!

  3. Anne, my first novel is historical too! (And it took me SIX years to write it.) Although I love writing historical (and hope to return to it someday), when I started writing my paranormal it felt so right. It was like slipping into an old comfortable coat.

  4. I've seen books about mermaids, but nothing about mermen ... definitely more interesting. And I have a historical fiction sitting in a drawer that took 18 months to write :( So much time was spent researching.