Guest Blog: YA Author Bryan W. Alaspa
Bryan W. Alaspa on WRITING YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
First off, I wanted to thank Patrick for letting me guest write on his blog. I love Patrick’s work and I cannot wait for his next novel to come out. We have discovered that we share a lot of common interests and I think his work is going to become rather legendary among thriller/horror fans.
I have been writing for some time now. I first started writing when I sat down at my mom’s electric typewriter in the third grade and spent days banging out a three-page, single-spaced, no-paragraphs short story that was, essentially, a rip off of Jaws. I had been fascinated with that novel and movie even though I had yet to read it or see it. I just thought sharks were super cool.
I wrote all the time after that. Short stories, mostly, and all of them were in the realm of horror. I did a few sci-fi things, but they also had a horror bent. This was even before I discovered the likes of HP Lovecraft and Richard Matheson. I ate up horror movies constantly and began reading ghost stories and thrillers meant for kids and then for adults. I began reading adult horror starting in 6th grade when I grabbed my dad’s copy of Stephen King’s novel Cujo. I was hooked after that and began devouring horror and thrillers like a starving man.
Writing for me has always been something that I just sort of did. The stories were just there. I knew that I was writing for adult readers sometime in high school when I began adding a bit of sex into the tales and the gore and language increased. I wrote my first novel, by hand, in my senior year of high school. It was awful, of course, but it was a start and my first long-form storytelling.
I didn’t even consider writing Young Adult stories until a few years ago. It wasn’t really something I had decided to do. I was simply sitting in my living room watching a television show about ghosts and the story idea came. As I started writing it, with the main character being a young man in high school, I realized that I was not using quite as many swear words as I normally did and that the story just sort of lent itself to the description of YA. That became my romantic ghost story known as Sapphire.
I discovered that writing for a younger audience was interesting and not that much different than writing for adults. When writing for teenagers these days, you have to realize that they deal with many of the same things, ask the same questions, have the same fears and desires as adults. They just haven’t dealt with all of those feelings and their emotions are a bit wild. You cut down on the sex a bit (although teens deal with that, too) and get a little less graphic. You also cut down on the swearing a bit and –voila!
It was the aspect of dealing with teenage feelings that led to my new novel The Lightning Weaver. It tells the story of a teen girl who discovers that she has vast powers. Of course, at first, she doesn’t’ realize how to control them or understand who or what she is. She soon discovers that she is part of a race of humans known as Elementals. They can control one of the four elements, although some are more powerful than others. Imagine being a teenager with all of those confusing thoughts and feelings and wanting to fit in and then you discover you have vast powers you can barely control. Imagine you find out you aren’t really a normal human being – but some offshoot of humanity. Imagine you find out that there’s now a war coming. How would that make you feel?
It is something that I wanted to explore and then imagined three others of equal power and of the same age. What would bring them together?
Once again, I did not set out to create these stories as young adult stories, they just turned out that way. As I began writing, I realized that this was a YA series, fit for those in their teens. At the same time, I don’t attempt to “dumb down” the story. If you try to talk down to your audience, just because they’re teens, you’ll lose them.
I haven’t become just a YA author. I still write for those a bit older, but I still believe that the same basic point is to tell a compelling and well-told story. If you do that, whatever audience you choose will find you. The story is always king.
You can buy a copy of Bryan W. Alaspa’s new novel The Lightning Weaver, in ebook and print editions here: http://bryanwalaspa.com/books/the-lightning-weaver-the-elementals-part-one/