As for my bio, most of you know me as a literary agent for all kinds of commercial fiction, including fantasy, romance, mystery and young adult. My young adult series featuring Gina Covello, fashionista of the damned, started last year with Vamped and will continue in September with ReVamped (*shameless plug* now available for pre-order!). Flux has also contracted two more books in the series, Fangtastic and Fangtabulous. Hope you'll share in the fun.
Better Living through Fiction
They say familiarity breeds contempt. They say write what you know. They say I was dropped on my head as a child. While that last part might be true, I beg to differ on the first two points.
I write a fashionista vampire. She’s confident, cocky, popular and fashion-obsessed. Oh yes, and she’s seventeen. While I will admit to once being seventeen (just yesterday), I was not at the time confident, popular, fashionable or fanged. I played D&D, wore shapeless shirts to cover up the figure I wish I had now, took extra classes, particularly in art and English, did drama and generally lived the life of a Gleek. I think what drew me to Gina (my character) was that she was so absolutely alien to me. My first YA, Vamped, was originally meant to be a short story called “Unlife Style” about a teen vamp who faces true horror when she claws her way out of the grave, totally destroying her manicure, and realizes she’s got to face eternity with no way to fix her hair and make-up. She decides to save her sanity by turning her stylist and starting an undead entourage.
I didn’t have to like Gina. I only had to live with her for about ten pages. Unfortunately, my writers group informed me that “Unlife Style” was more of a vignette and that Gina demanded more. Not exactly a surprise that my heroine was high maintenance, but did I have to be the one to cater to her every whim? The short answer is, of course, a resounding, “Yes.” So, I had to learn to live with Gina. I had to learn to love her. Which meant that I had to understand what made her who she was and discover her more redeeming characteristics. In short, I had to learn tolerance and acceptance for a character who was so alien to the real me. Gina changed as well, learning to open herself up a bit, becoming more human as a vampire than when she lived and breathed.
It didn’t occur to me until I sat down to write this blog that my path is more or less echoed in ReVamped. Gina, the girl whose most noble goal is to beautify the world, one person at a time, ends up having to go undercover as a goth…no color palette so speak of, more chains than a bike rack, and don’t even get her started on the shoes…. She’s sure she’ll have nothing in common with the goth gang, but they take to her instantly, particularly Ulric, who wants to be a whole lot more than her new BFF. She learns a lot of things, beyond what’s messing with the ley-lines and causing outbreaks of violence at her new school. She discovers that we’re all the same beneath our outer skins. Whether hair is shorn or dyed, spiked or gelled, whether flesh is pierced, tattooed or untouched, everybody shops. And whether you’re a biter or a bleeder, all life is precious.
You don’t necessarily have to start out writing what you know, but you do have to come to know that which you write. For me, familiarity didn’t breed contempt, but understanding and acceptance.
Special Note: one day left to participate in my mighty minions contest with a chance to win a Flip Video Camera or B&N gift card. Details are here! And tune in to Bitten by Books on September 15th for the virtual launch party for ReVamped and chance to win an iPod Nano with a special skin.