Friday, October 31, 2014

Why I Write Young Adult Paranormal Suspense

Short answer: I don’t.

Longer answer: I first got the idea for A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse when I was a young adult, before young adult was even a label.

Very long answer: A friend had given me some books in the genre that was known then as Gothic. Remember Gothics? Young girl goes to large house filled with wealthy eccentrics, usually with a threatening figure and a helpful figure (often romance is involved), the threatening one turns out to be Good and the helpful one turns out to be Bad, much fear and emotion, happy ending. The covers usually featured the house with the young girl (usually in her nightdress) running away under a full moon, looking back over her shoulder in terror.

I thought it would be fun to write one with a young man instead of a young girl. I thought it would be fun if, instead of trying to winkle out the house’s secrets, everybody would be trying to share them with him and he would be all, “I don’t want to know. I don’t want any drama or excitement.”

This was my “training wheel” book. It was my first completed novel; it was the first one I struggled through to the end. When I finished, neither the book nor I was the same as at the beginning. Over the years of playing with the idea, the reams of false starts, the micro-tweaks and total rewrites, A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse took shape and the stereotypical Gothic elements dropped away or were transformed. I also discovered I can’t totally write by the seat of my pants; I do much better with an outline, however general.

After having written and published many short stories and several novels, I came back to my old pal, Mitch and applied what I’d learned.

Mitch is an orphan, and has lived in a group home all his life. He’s about to turn 18 (in 1968) and is worried about his future. Hired by an elderly (70 – less elderly to me every year) rich woman to protect her dogs from the killer stalking them, he thinks she’s dotty. Never having known a “normal” family life, Mitch isn’t certain he’s right about the strangeness of the dynamics and undercurrents in the household. He’s certain, though, that the maid is wrong when she insists he’s possessed by the spirit of the last young man his employer hired – the guy who died at the summerhouse and is buried there. At least, he thinks he’s certain. Sure, he’s certain. Probably. Then the anniversary of the dead guy’s fatal “accident” rolls around.

And, yes, there’s a scene where Mitch leaves the house by moonlight, dressed in his jammies.

How could I resist?

A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse is available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Marian Allen was born in Louisville, Kentucky and now lives in rural Indiana. For as long as she can remember, she has loved telling and being told stories. She writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form.

Allen has had stories in on-line and print publications, on coffee cans and the wall of an Indian restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. Her latest books are the Sage fantasy trilogy, her science fiction novel Sideshow in the Center Ring, and her YA paranormal suspense A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse from Per Bastet Publications.

She is a member of Quills and Quibbles and the Southern Indiana Writers Group. 


Visit Marian Allen at her blog for free stories, samples, and recipes: Marian Allen, Author Lady or her follow her on FaceBook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+ and LinkedIn. She also posts at the group blog Fatal Foodies on Tuesdays and monthly on The Write Type.

11 comments :

  1. Ha! "Young girl goes to large house filled with wealthy eccentrics" sounds exactly like the initial premise of my first training novel, which I started writing at age 17 and spent six years crafting into a, um, masterpiece *shifty look* and then another few years editing and revising to death. I'm planning to whip it into shape (again) next year, and, like you, it will be seriously different to how it began (as am I).

    Great post, Marian.

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    1. I hear you about revising it to death! I did that to my fantasy trilogy, SAGE, and had to UNrevise it to bring it back to life. I look forward to your book and to your post about your journey with it!

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  2. The evolution/maturation of a story is a journey so many of us embark on. Amazingly, the years-later version can turn these training novels into great reads. Love this post, Marian.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I like the term evolution/maturation. It reflects the organic nature of storytelling and of the storyteller.

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  3. I've heard the term "wrestling" with a story, and sometimes it feels like that. You have ideas, the characters have ideas, and you battle it out until it reaches some sort of resolution, or you kill it altogether.

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  4. Oh, absolutely, Diana! Sometimes you wrestle, and sometimes you have a last-one-standing cage match.

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  5. OMG, the Gothic novel. I read everything Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart wrote. I still read Stewart's. Thanks for visiting us, Marian. Your posts are always so interesting and fun.

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    1. Thanks, Dani! My favorite Gothic author was Barbara Michaels. I was so surprised to find out that she was also my other favorite author, Elizabeth Peters!

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  6. Loved this post, because I can see the covers exactly as you mentioned. As for redoing an old book, my first book took thirteen years before I published it. Talk about editing to death, or back to live.

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  7. Oh, Polly, we must be separated at birth! LOL I very seldom give up on a project; I just stick it somewhere and come back to it every so often to see if it's ready to be finished -- or REfinished -- yet.

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    1. I'm not sure if it's the project that's ready to be finished or we're ready to finish the product. My guess is it's the latter.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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