Stacey, what was your inspiration for writing FINDING FELICITY?
When I was a nervous high school senior, I was desperate for stories about going to college. High school was not an awesome experience, and I feared that college would be four more years of the same. Only with more beer and roommates. I wanted a book that would reassure me that geeky, awkward people like me could find a place to belong. But that kind of book didn't exist then. And even today, college-set YA is fairly rare. So, as an adult, I wrote the book that I'd needed at 17.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
I'm not sure there's ever one thing that's the key to writing a novel because in my experience every book writes a little differently. :D As my critique partner Linnea Sinclair says, "Just because you can ski doesn't mean you've skied this particular mountain."
That being said, I can definitely point to one moment that made a HUGE difference in my understanding story and story structure. I'm totally a pantser. Or, I was, until I started having contracts and deadlines. So, I struggled when I first started writing because I would simply write down what I saw in my head. I could tell you what someone was doing, but not why or how it connected to anything else in the story. Which meant I got stuck a lot, and I had to revise/rewrite huge portions of my draft. Then I learned about Goal, Motivation, & Conflict and it was like a light bulb went on over my head. Basically, just the idea that the character needed to have a goal, something they were trying to accomplish through the course of the story as this huge eye-opener for me.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
So many lessons came with this one, and in the way of most life lessons, they were not exactly pain-free. :D
1) It is more difficult for me to write a story that deeply and personally relates to my own experiences. I get caught up in "it wasn't really like that for me" instead of focusing on what the story needs.
2) On a related note, I struggle with writing characters who are too similar to who I am in real life (ahem, Caroline). I, strangely enough, seem to do better at conveying characters who I don't outwardly have much in common with (hello, Alona Dare!) I suspect that's because I'm forced to put more work into understanding those characters and that, in turn, helps me bring them to life on the page for others more easily. Which is not to say that real-life experience doesn't help--just that "write what you know" isn't the be all, end all.
3) Thank goodness for editors! Which, by the way, is a sentiment I have always felt, but I definitely realized it anew this time. Sometimes you really can't see what your book is missing. My first editor on this book, Christian Trimmer, was the one who suggested that we needed to see Caroline trying to fit in, taking chances to make friends, etc. I argued against that--stupidly--because, to me, it felt like the revelation that she needed to do things differently was enough. Nope, he was right. I just couldn't see it at the time.
ABOUT THE BOOKFinding Felicity
by Stacey Kade
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.
But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.
Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Prior to writing full time, Kade worked as an award-winning copywriter for several Fortune 500 companies. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their two retired racing greyhounds.
Have you had a chance to read FINDING FELICITY yet? Do you use goal, motivation, and conflict in your writing? Do you find it easier or harder to write characters who are similar to yourself? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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