Chasing Boys was my first teen book. Before then I had written six middle primary books where the main protagonist was a boy. (The David Mortimore Baxter Series. I have since gone on to write 8 more books in this series for the US Publisher, Stonearch.) It was much easier to write as a teenage girl than a pre-teen boy. I felt free to plunder my own memories of being a teenager. Some people loved their teen years, others would never go back there. Mine were a mixed bag that still remain quite vivid in my memory. At a recent class reunion there were only a couple of people I had no recollection of. It was really interesting how the cool kids all sat together on the same table like years ago...
I knew the ending before I started writing it. This made it easy. Gave me something to work towards. I started on the book one Sunday morning at basketball training (my daughter's not mine). I sat in the car with my laptop and actually started with the first chapter and moved forward. There were some chapters that I wrote out of sequence. These were ideas that came to me at odd times (driving the car, just before sleep, having a shower) and I, not wanting to lose them, wrote them down when I could and flagged where I thought they might fit in. Most of these chapters had a major edit when inserted into the running story.
I like the idea of writing 'scenes'. I enjoy writing dialogue. I hear the character's voices in my head and see their body language as they talk. It's like a movie, without all the extras filling up the background shot.
I love the editing process. As a new writer, it was my least favourite process. I used to love the rush of getting a story out then really didn't want to fiddle with it after that. Now I enjoy sitting down when all the words are out there and shaping and polishing and foreshadowing and cutting cutting cutting. There is one chapter in Chasing Boys that was originally three pages long. I cut it down to one sentence. It was the essence of what I was trying to say and in the end all I needed to say. I used to have so many adjectives and florid descriptions in my stories it was like a dancer showing off every single step they could do and the dance making no sense. I love the sparseness of Tim Winton's prose. He manages to say amazing things, and convey incredible and true images without being over the top. He is an inspiration.
I wrote Chasing Boys for my daughter who does not like reading. I seriously would think she was switched at birth except she is so much like my sister that it's spooky. I did an author school visit once and mentioned that my daughter was obviously swapped at birth as she had no interest in reading and a student came up to me after the session to find out if I ever got my real daughter back. I am serious. So was she.
Anyway, with my daughter in mind I made a lot of the chapters short in an effort to entice her (and all reluctant readers) to stick with it. I hope they did...
I would like to offer a big thank you to Karen for participating in this author's spotlight. Karen Tayleur writes her own blog that you should definitely stop by and check out. Her first YA novel, Chasing Boys is available through black dog books in Australia and Walker Books elsewhere (the American cover is to the left.)
NEXT WEEK: Beth Fantaskey, author of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side will be our resident author.