Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I Write YA by Lee Nichols (and a contest!!!)

Today we're lucky enough to have the amazing Lee Nichols as our guest blogger. Lee has written five romantic comedies for adults (one of which you can win today, see details at the end of the post!), and then suddenly found herself writing a young adult novel.

DECEPTION: A HAUNTING EMMA NOVEL follows Emma Vaile after her parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip. She's left all alone in her creepy old house only to be whisked away to New England by a knight in J. Crew armor. But the eerie visions she's been hiding from everyone have gotten worse and Emma learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. And now she's got to track down an other-worldly murderer.

Ok, so who doesn't want to read that book? Seriously. It's going to be released on June 8th, my friends, so mark your calendars.

But we were sort of wondering how an acclaimed adult novelist suddenly found herself mired in the endless angst of YA and Lee was gracious enough to answer.


When I tell people I’m writing a series for teens, they always ask, “Why?”

After finishing my fifth chick-lit novel for adults, I kicked around some ideas with my agent for a new book. We both liked a sort of contemporary ‘gothic’ novel about a woman who moves into an old New England house that she discovers is haunted.

So I started fiddling with the plot, but couldn’t make it work. My character kept getting younger and younger. Instead of a thirty-something house-sitter, she turned into a twenty-something historic preservationist, and finally a teenager. But not just any teenager: one with the power to see, dispel, and communicate with ghosts.

And I finally had to admit I wanted to write a YA novel.

Which was a huge relief. I love the genre. It’s thrilling in the same way that chick lit was exciting when it first appeared. The writing is fresh and new, and even if the stories are the same (it’s not like we’ve never seen vampires before), the YA take on them is so appealing. These characters are not dressed in thigh-high boots and leather dusters. There’s something real and identifiable and romantic about them. And don’t get me started on YA literature authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Alexie Sherman who are simply brilliant.

The reason adults are finding themselves scanning the shelves of the YA section is because they’re tired of formulaic genre fiction, but still love great, fun, dramatic, twisted, adventurous books. It doesn’t matter that the characters are only seventeen. They just want a good novel and discovered teens were getting it.

So that is why I wrote my first YA book, DECEPTION: A HAUNTING EMMA NOVEL, and why I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves in June.

Writing for teens was a natural transition for me. All my adult novels have a coming–of-age theme, in the sense that the main characters are searching for who they are, the type of person they want to be. And even though my character Emma has killer ghosts thrown into the mix, she’s still dealing with those fundamental questions: Who will she choose to be? Someone who hides from her abilities and destiny or who stands and fights?

I guess the answer is obvious. But I hope readers have fun learning how she does it. And while it may appear I’ve stumbled into the YA realm, I feel like I’ve grown into it.


Ok, so I know we're all dying to read Lee's books now, and lucky for us she's giving away a copy of HAND ME DOWN (Love triangles, romance and SISTERS! Um, this book is AMAZING.) to one lucky reader! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and become a follower of Lee's blog. We'll announce a winner this weekend. Good luck everyone!

If you're like us and plan on cyberstalking Lee from here on out, you can follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook and find tons of other cool info on her website.


Unknown said...

Great post. Lee's novel definitely sounds like an interesting read. I know I'm no longer amongst the teen years (even though I can act like it some, or most, of the time) but I absolutely love YA novels. There's something about them that's hard to put down.

Christine Danek said...

Great post as always! I will go and check it out and add this oh so interesting book to my book list.

JEM said...

The book sounds great! If it plays out as creepily as the synopsis, I'm in it to win it.

Hardygirl said...

All righty. I'm heading over to follow Lee's blog. And,
Lee's absolutely right. Some of the very best stuff being written today is shelved in the YA section (although, our local indie has started double shelving a lot of their YA titles and including them in the adult book store--so smart!).


Unknown said...

This book sounds fantastic! Certainly will be on my list! I will surely be stalking Lee as soon as I'm done leaving this comment!!!

Who wouldn't love a copy!!!

Great Guest post!!!

Marsha Sigman said...

Stalking mode initiated. I am off to Lee's blog. The book sounds awesome! It sounds like a teenage Ghost Whisperer, what could be better than that??

Stina said...

Great post. I'll definitely have check out this book.

I haven't read an adult book in over a year. Why bother? YA rocks!

Kerri Cuev said...

Gosh I like ghost stories! I will have to check it out.

Patti said...

It's interesting to see how someone changed genres. Sounds like a good book.

Jemi Fraser said...

Loved this. Such a great story about how the story dictates the characters. Really interesting! Sounds awesome :)

Carolyn V. said...

Ohhh! The book does sound fantastic! I can't wait to read it! =)

Sarah Ahiers said...

Wow that book sounds great!
I'm a follower of Lee's blog and here is my comment. I hope i win it but if i don't, i'll certainly pick it up when it's available

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Super post, ladies! Her books sound awesome - I'll definitely be checking them out. :-)

donnas said...

Great post. Her books sound really good. Glad to find a new author. Thanks!!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Great post and it sounds like an interesting book too.

I'll agree- the advent of YA as a genre is fabulous. I wish it had been around in full force fifteen years ago!

Lee Nichols said...

Just wanted to pop in and say hi. Thanks to everyone for all the positive thoughts about the book! And thanks to Lisa and Laura for having me!

Feel free to ask me any questions and I'll stop back later to answer them.

Thanks again to everyone. What nice followers Lisa and Laura have!


Elana Johnson said...

Wow! That book does sound AMAZING! Thanks for helping me add to my TBR pile.

Danyelle L. said...

Awesome interview! YA rocks! My favorite sections in the bookstore are YA and MG. :D

Heidi Willis said...

I love reading why people end up writing what they do, especially if that changes over time.

I did the opposite (without the previously published books). I wanted to write for kids and teens, but I just couldn't make it work. The characters got older and older, and suddenly I was writing women's fiction.

Maybe that love will someday drive me back to YA, and maybe by that time I'll be good at it. :)

Shawntelle Madison said...

Wow, great post. I can see myself in Lee since I write chick lit as well. My first YA project is cooking on the pot. So refreshing to see how another author transitioned.

Thanks Lisa and Laura for a wonderful blog post.

Linda Henderson said...

She is a new author for me, but her books sound very intriguing. I would love to read one. I became a follower on her blog. I am already a follower here.

seriousreader at live dot com

Unknown said...

How fun! L&L, thanks for pointing me in Lee's direction. This book sounds interesting and I love books about sistahs, being the middle of three myself. ;)

Trollololol said...

The book sounds terrific, plus it comes out the day after my birthday!

YA is definitely the best genre. I don't think there will ever be a time where I don't prefer a YA book over an adult one. (But alas I am young, and shall probably eat my words. haha)


Linda Benson said...

Great Interview, Lee! (and good job, Lisa and Laura, for hosting it.) Congrats on your new YA book coming out, and I'd love to win any of your books. Oh, and I'm following your blog now, too. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of blogging, Lee - it's just blabbing out loud to the world - hahaha.

Lori W. said...

Great interview, Lee. Please enter me in the contest! Have fun in NYC!

Christy said...

I just found about this book today, I really can't wait to read it!


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