Friday, September 20, 2013

Guest Post: Author Risa Green

When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris's mother is murdered at Gretchen's 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi's version of the Junior League. Gretchen's best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit withThe Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society's jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen's hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video ("Popular Girls = Secret Lovers") goes viral, Gretchen's and Jessica's lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica. When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.
My new book, Projection, is set in two different time periods: one in present day California, one in Ancient Rome.  In present day California, three teenaged girls are using a two thousand year-old secret to trade souls and solve a murder.  In Ancient Rome, the philosopher Plotinus and his young disciple Gemina have just perfected this secret, and are discovering just how dangerous it is.
The question I get asked a lot is, how did I write the chapters about Ancient Rome?  If I’m feeling snarky, I’ll say that I know this ancient Roman guy who told me a bunch of stories  about back in the day.
Obviously, I did a lot of research.  Plotinus was a real person, so I spent some time reading about his philosophies and beliefs, about where he was born and where he died.  I read up on the laws that existed in Rome in 285, especially those that restricted the rights of women.  And I tried to find out as much as I could about what it was like to live in Rome during that time; what did people wear, what did they eat, what was their typical day like?  But that’s where it got hard.   There’s just not a ton of information about what it was like to be a seventeen yearold girl in Rome in the year 285.  So I had to wing it.  As a former lawyer who was trained to get the facts right, that was hard for me.  I kept thinking, maybe I’m missing something, and I’d read more books, do more internet searches.  But eventually, I realized that I was spending way more time researching than I was writing, I wasn’t coming up with anything new, and, most importantly, I wasn’t enjoying myself.  So finally, I let it go.  I let go of being exactly right, and that’s when the fun started.  Because what is fiction – even historical fiction – if not using your imagination to fill in the gaps?  And what’s the point of writing if it’s not fun?
Most people who read Projection tell me that they liked the Ancient Roman chapters the best, and that’s really validating for me.  Usually when a reader likes something, it’s because they can tell that the author was having fun with it.  And in this case, that is exactly right.
About the Author:
Risa Green is the author of the recently released YA novel Projection.  She has also written the YA series The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball, as well as the critically acclaimed adult novels, Notes from the Underbelly and Tales From the Crib, which were the basis of an ABC television series titled Notes From the Underbelly.  Risa also writes Tales from the Mommy Track, a popular weekly blog which appears on both and   Prior to becoming a writer, Risa worked as a high school college counselor, and also spent two years doing hard time as a corporate attorney.  Born in the Philadelphia area, Risa now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

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