Sorry for the delay, guys. Real life got in the way.
Here we go.
Marni asked: Do you ever worry about censorship with your novels? Have you ever felt pressure to make your characters sound more G-rated?
This is a good question. I think about it all the time. (I should disclose that Marni is also published by KTeen, and has read my book. I should also disclose that Storm has a few swear words and some fighting, and a girl is put in a compromising position.)
Have I ever felt pressured to make my characters sound more G-rated? No. Never. My agent never pressured me, my publisher never pressured me, and my family definitely never pressured me. We’ll see what the public has to say. Nothing is explicit or gratuitous. I’d rate the novel PG-13. Maybe even PG, considering what goes on in PG-13 movies lately.
I wrote the book with the goal of making it as realistic as possible. Becca, Hunter, the Merrick brothers — these are all teenagers dealing with real life problems on top of being involved with something paranormal. The Merrick brothers have grown up without parents, and I figured a wayward swear word wouldn’t be inappropriate. Becca’s situation is … complicated (I can’t say too much without giving the story away), but I think it’s something that real teens can relate to.
A friend of a friend of a friend said she wouldn’t let her twelve-year-old daughter read my book because it had some profanity. As a parent, I fully respect and understand her choice. I also think that books are a safe way to explore complex and frightening issues, because your imagination can only carry you so far.
Shannon asked: I’m curious if there’s going to be 4 novels and why you chose to focus on the 4 elements instead of just general magic?
Another good question! Right now, I’m only contracted for three books. I hope I’ll get the chance to write more, but right now, it’s going to be three. I haven’t mentioned this before on the blog, but there will be a standalone e-Book available shortly before Storm is released, called Elemental. I believe it’s going to be free, but right now it’s got a $0.99 price tag on it, so I’ll announce more when I know for sure.
I chose to focus on the four elements because I struck out with my two previous paranormal attempts. I wrote a vampire novel and started trying to find an agent, right when vampires were getting huge. (And my writing needed work, too. But the idea wasn’t fresh and new in 2007.) Then I put vampires aside and wrote a paranormal romance dealing with Greek mythology — right when Percy Jackson hit it big. (I did land representation with that one, it just didn’t sell. Also, there were problems with that book, too. It wasn’t just timing.)
In my vampire novel, I had four brothers and a girl named Rebecca. I just couldn’t get them out of my head. I knew vampires wouldn’t work, and I wanted to go with something less popular, and also something that would work well with the number four. I tossed around all kinds of things. The four horsemen of the apocalypse was in the running for a while. The four elements. Four leaf clovers. You name it. I finally settled on elements because I had a lot of ideas of how I could make it fun.
Becky asked: What do you do to make sure your characters emotions are realistic?
This is a hard question.
My editor just finished reading Spark, and asked if I have teenagers living at home because of the realistic interactions between the teenagers. That made my day. I do have a fourteen-year-old stepson who is phenomenally awesome, but he’s a good kid. (Meaning he’s not getting into scuffles or mouthing back or providing good conflict fodder for the page.) I used to teach riding lessons to teenagers, so I’ve had a lot of experience around them. Teen emotions are the same as adult emotions, they’re just not shy about sharing them. Teens aren’t subtle people, and that’s an amazing quality. If they feel something, generally, you know it.
But I put all that on the page. I cry a lot. I always say that if the Merrick brothers knew how much I cry while writing their scenes, they’d demand to be written out of the novel.
The Elementalists asked: Are the boys going to find a long lost brother who is even hotter in ‘The Fifth Element?’
Um, no. 🙂 But I’ll be introducing new characters in each book.
Thanks for all the questions, guys! If you have more, leave them in comments and I’ll get them answered. In the meantime, I’m gearing up for another ARC contest. Should we do it on the blog, or should I do a Goodreads giveaway? What would you prefer?