Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post: Author Jennifer Murgia

Young or Not, It’s OK to Crush on YA

When I visit an author’s website, the BIO tab is one of the first things my mouse clicks. I find that little glimpse into their personal life intriguing . . . who are they, really? Are they normal like me? Do they love movies and wearing slippers all day, and visiting the beach . . . because nine times out of ten when we fall in love with a book, we tend to forget the person behind it. That the writer, perhaps alone at their keyboard, sipping coffee, has woven such an intricate world, a story so splendid, we often find ourselves surprised at how normal they really are.

Among my favorites are Robin LaFever, Libba Bray, Cyn Balog, Lauren Oliver, James Dashner and Molly Cochran, in case you wanted to know, and the books they’ve penned hold high regard on my shelf. And with many thanks to Katelyn here at Bookshelf Sophisticate, who has asked me to shed some light on how I got my start as an author, this is a little story on how I fell in love with Young Adult fiction and wrote my own book.

Long ago, I used to read.  And then I had kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I still read a lot—only the books were thick, chunky board books with bright baby-friendly colors and simple sight words. For a long while, I couldn’t find the time to read for myself, and I missed it terribly. Little by little that time presented itself back to me, and, while I was super excited (we’re talking roaming the aisles of B&N with money burning in my pocket excited), I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I wanted to read. I was suddenly lost.

As a teen I had felt the need to immerse myself in intellectual literature –I was almost a grown up, after all, and I had a lot of grown up books to sift through—Anne Rice, Milan Kundera, to name a few. But as an adult, I found myself gravitating toward a genre I’d never explored before, and I was a little nervous about it. What would someone think, finding a grown woman perusing the spines of books in the teen section at the bookstore, choosing not one or two, but as many as five books to take home with her? That was me, slinking around the shelves, pretending to buy gifts for my niece’s instead of loading my arms with books that were for no one else but myself. I devoured A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It was the first Young Adult book I’d ever read, and it was quickly followed by Spirit by JP Hightman, and A Great and Terrible Beauty  by Libba Bray. To my surprise, I’d finally found a new love. After story time when my children were sound asleep, I’d arm myself with my stash of books! At long last, I had found what was missing – and strangely, something I never saw coming, was that missing link was me.

Young Adult Fiction read by a teen is entertainment and escape . . .  Young Adult Fiction read by an adult is something else entirely. It’s a portal where the person you used to be, or thought you were, still thrives and smiles from between the pages, reminding you she’s still there. I’ve quickly learned why I loved this genre so much, realizing how your teenage years shape you. Those were years of many firsts: first kiss, first love, loyal friends, feelings and emotions too large to ignore. You’re no longer a kid, yet not quite an adult. You still believe in magic and the impossible, and those few years before you’re thrust into the adult world are ones you’ll never forget. A lifetime can sift past, but inside, those years are what count. Those are the ones you wish you could relive.

I realized that those years had prepared me for who I am today, and as much as I’d like to believe I’ve grown up and changed, I’m still that girl. I’m still waiting for something brilliant and beautiful to happen with my life, because after all, I too believed in magic. And that’s when it hit me—something  I hadn’t done in a long time, but always wanted, something that no matter how old I got, or how hectic my life became—wouldn’t go away. Writing.  

The summer of 2007 brought an idea to mind—a love between a very normal girl and a boy, who was more than human. The love they shared was unconditional, only it was impossible. And while they couldn’t really be together, they were with each other constantly. That idea became my first book Angel Star. Lemniscate followed a year later, and this month, I’ll put the finishing touch on my series with a prequel—a little novella called The Bliss. Exactly two weeks from the release, I’ll release another YA novel, but don’t worry I’ll share that soon!

That girl inside me? She never went away. She’d been waiting patiently for me to discover another first—writing. She urged me to wake up and realize a dream I had once felt slip away was still very much alive. She urged me to see that girl I once was, embrace her, and take her youth and spirit and sense of humor, and place her between pages and paragraphs, and watch her grow all over again. And I’ll be forever grateful I did.

**Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today Jennifer!!!!  It's always great to have you and please come back really soon!  If you guys haven't checked out her Angel Star series get on that immediately and check out her recent prequel to the series, The Bliss!

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