Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jenna!

I started brainstorming JENNA one year ago today. I'd just thrown off the idea of doing historicals the night before, and the character of Jenna invaded my brain. So I sat down and wrote all the things I'd like to have in a book, and explored the character that had come to me. What is SO cool is that the character at least is very, very close to what came out.

Here is the start of the very first entry for my writing journal for JENNA:

[start journal entry]

So I was thinking last night about all the things I want to include in a book, the things I like to read about. I like these elements:

• The plot twists of Mary Stewart
• The humor of Douglas Adams
• The language/descriptive power of Diana
• The kind of alternate world adventure in Susan Cooper and Madeleine L'Engle (how long has a Wrinkle in Time captivated people now?)
• The passion and vividness in Vicki's book and OUTLANDER
• Real, living, falleable characters
• Magic or unusual abilities
• Young, female heroine who is uncertain in herself but comes into her own
• Series
• Revelations
• Locations/times I know about
• First person

What I don't want to include:

• Dragons, elves, unicorns, fairies
• Werewolves, vampires, witches
• Portals to other worlds/times
• Anything I have to spend a massive amount of time researching
• Anything that locks me in to a particular story

So all together, if we have all this stuff, this is some sort of YA. A funny YA, with some sort of fantasy/alternative world element to it, but without the predictable portal crap. A powerful, real voice. A girl who faces things as they are and deals with them—who is having a tough time, and then it gets way tougher and she has to figure it out.

Last night this situation came to me, so let's describe it and go into it further and see how it pans out.

Main character is Jenna. (don't know why that name, but I tried to shake it off and it wouldn't shake. That is her name.) She's 15, I think, maybe 16. No, 15 seems right. Not a kid, not a full teenager, in-between everything. Awkward.
[end journal entry]

It goes on from there, for pages, with Jenna's family situation and difficulties. Fascinating to me how she burst into my head, though. And I finished the first draft of that book in August, finished it in October, queried the heck out of it, and Janet offered representation at the end of December.

Now, onward! And to keep working on Ghost Girl. Right now, though, we're going swimming at the hot springs. Aaaaah.

Happy Birthday, Jenna! I'm so happy to have gotten to know you!


Catherine Karp said...

Wow! I'm impressed at how fast you are at writing a book in the middle of everything else you have going on. I'm such a slow writer. Congrats on your one-year anniversary with your character!

Susan Adrian said...

Thanks, Cathy!

If I don't write fast, I fall out of the story. It's an immersion thing, I think. The goal is a 6-month first draft, which I proved to myself I could do with Jenna. GG is proving a wee bit slower, since I've had to backtrack a couple times, but I'm aiming now for 7 months. :)

Janet Reid said...

Happy Birthday Jenna!