Welcome Kaz Delaney award-winning author of Dead Actually, paranormal chick-lit, winner of the Aurealis Award and Romance Writers award … to Karen’s Blog …
Kaz is launching Almost Dead, the sequel to Dead Actually.
Kaz supported my award winning memoir Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness …
About my battle with parent-Teacher Bullying, Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. Kaz’s blurb adorns ME & HER’s book cover …
‘I was totally hooked—it was instant!’ Kaz Delaney: Dead Actually.
I too, am writing a Young Adult book and I’d LOVE to learn some winning tips from Kaz.
Congratulations Kaz, on the launch of Almost Dead. I’d like to ask HOW you created Almost Dead…
Q. Did you map out Almost Dead while you were writing Dead Actually? … What was the planning process?
A. Hi Karen! Thanks you for letting me hang out on your blog today. In answer to your first question, no, they were completely different projects. In fact, when my publishers asked for Macey’s story, I was the one dragging my feet because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make her sympathetic enough. Macey’s a wonderful character – she takes no prisoners and she says the things we sometimes wish we could say – but while those traits are those that make us smile, I was worried about her connecting with audiences.
It was a lot of work, but I’m so glad now I took up the challenge –she’s one of the strongest characters I’ve ever created. The planning process was the same ad hoc method I always use. I toss scenarios around and around in my head questioning their plausibility. I badger my writing group buddies and we brainstorm. All I knew at the beginning was I had to really put Macey through the wringer because that would be the only way to reach her core, to find her vulnerabilities. After I have the key story elements I write a synopsis. I suspect the story veered far away from the original synopsis but that’s okay.
The first ideas you (collectively speaking) have are usually a springboard – for me anyway. Then as I write myself further into the story, things become apparent that weren’t so obvious before I was so deeply enmeshed.
Q. KAZ, Where did you get your characters from? Are they based on people you know?
A: Well, for Almost Dead, of course I had Macey from Dead, Actually – who was amazing fun to write in that story. Every person has their own story to tell and Willow and Macey were no different, just as you and I, though sharing certain similarities, have such different stories to tell. Those individual stories are greatly influenced by many things – but especially by the people around us and the experiences we share with them, good and bad. Macey is a product of those people and those experiences, and because she is so strong, there had to be strong people around her.
The first step in creating Macey’s world, was to populate it with people who were strong in their own right. Are they based on people I know? No, I’m not consciously aware of basing these people on particular persons I know. I do believe that all characters are born out of a hodge podge of people we either know, have read about, observed or heard about, so there are most certainly traits there I’ve no doubt subconsciously ‘lifted’.
Q. How do you make sure the behaviour and dialogue is age appropriate for the characters?
A. This is a hard question to answer. After so many books for children and teenagers, it’s kind of second nature. I happen to love teenagers; I always have and my home and life have always been littered with them. I listen to the way they talk, to their passion and their pain. But probably the best research is to read. My TBR pile is always teetering with the latest YA books. I read that genre more than any other, and I think that helps.
Q: How did you keep up the suspense and pace in Almost Dead?
A: A lot of people have commented (favourably, thank goodness 🙂 on the pacing of Almost Dead.The comment that I have had most often put to me in the past couple of weeks is “I wish I could read faster!” The first person to verbalise that thought was a reader on the younger end of my readership, and I can’t tell you how chuffed I was to hear it. Since then, I’ve had it put to me a few times, along with ‘I couldn’t put it down!’ These are comments I’ve held close to my heart, and yes, they’ve made me, also, think back and examine that pacing to see where they’re coming from.
I have to answer honestly and say at the time I wasn’t aware that it had such a cracking pace, but after more careful consideration, my objective response is that the answer lies in ‘story and brevity’. For starters, there is a lot happening in this story: the stalker/mystery storyline, the ghost element, the family upheaval and Finn – the guy she falls for. So, for my own sanity and that of the reader, I had to keep the story moving and keep it as clear and concise as I could so as not to confuse or overburden the reader.
Reading a story is supposed to be a relaxing, fun experience. Certainly we like to be challenged, and I hope that happens with the mystery storyline which takes up a big chunk of the plot, but there also has to be a fair playing field. Meaning, of course that the story needs to be easy to read and follow as well.
Q: Describe Almost Dead in one word …
A: Wow – I’m so not a one-word gal. Any of the superlatives that are running around in my head right now will only come across as incredibly conceited. 🙂 Let’s go with ‘satisfying’.
Q: What’s your TOP 3 tips for writing a YA novel?
1. Ask yourself if you really like and respect teenagers. If the answer is ‘no’ then find another genre.
2. Read as much YA and as widely within that genre as you can. See what’s out there, see what you’re competing against, familiarise yourself with the types of stories they like to read.
3. Never underestimate your reader. They’re clever, witty and educated. Don’t write down to them. YA readers are the most honest of the bunch – they’ll follow you passionately but they’ll also be the quickest to call you out if they’re not happy.
Book Giveaway: WIN a FREE COPY of Almost Dead
I’m giving away a copy of Kaz Delaney’s book, Almost Dead. Please leave a comment below on WHY you’d like to win.
I’ll announce the winner here on Feb 3rd. (Aus Only)
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