Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest post: R.A. Nelson

R.A. Nelson is here today to talk with us about his new YA novel, Throat, and to discuss why writing for the young adult crowd is so much fun. So without further ado...

Hello, Bite Club, it’s great to be here! Thanks for having me.

The funny thing is, when I began working on the idea for Throat, I had no idea it was
going to be a vampire book. I started with a character that fascinated me: a girl named
Emma Cooper who has epilepsy and feels her condition is ruining her life. I tried to fit
this character with a bunch of ideas I was working on at the time, but nothing seemed
quite right. Then, as usual, the idea for Throat came completely out of the blue: what if I
turned her into a vampire with epilepsy?

I had to admit, I had mixed feelings about this. I was really taken with the idea, but at
first tried to kick it right out of my head. The only vampire book I had read at that point
was Dracula a million years ago. Also, I didn’t want to seem like a copycat, adding yet
one more bloodsucking book to those tables you see groaning under the weight of these
novels at the book store. So I tried my best to shake free from the story over the next
couple of months, but it simply wasn’t letting go. As fall moved into winter, I caught
myself writing scenes in my head, so I knew at that point I had to give up. Throat was
going to be my next book.

Once I committed, I started to get really excited about it. I wanted to make my vampires
totally realistic and believable – I wanted the reader to experience just exactly what it
would feel like to really be in that situation, weighted down by that curse. Because what
would the life of a vampire really be, anyhow? You’re basically talking about a homeless
person with super powers that happens to drink blood. Who can never own property,
never stop hiding, is unable to travel very far at a time due to the necessity of constantly
finding new shelter and avoiding the sun. In spite of all their grand abilities, it would be
an awful, restricted existence.

Now I was having fun with it and felt I was on to something fresh. A completely new
kind of vampire. I was determined not to hold anything back. I wanted to write as
realistic a story as possible, blending in science and my background with NASA to help
make even the most outlandish concept plausible (like the fact that some of the vampires
in Throat worship the sun). This book was going to be a gritty, realistic, true story of a
new half-human vampire trying to make her way in the world (while somehow staying
alive in the process).

But who was going to be the audience for a vampire book that was this wildly different?

Teen readers are sharp. One of the reasons I love writing for them is that most of
them can approach books with completely open minds, and I have great faith in their
intelligence. I think they can handle pretty much anything I can throw at them. It’s the
adults I worry about. (Just kidding. Sort of.). But of course I was hopeful Throat would
appeal to readers from both groups. Lots and lots of readers. J

But truthfully I never think very that much about the age of my audience. I guess I just
love writing about characters that are living at that that time in life where everything
feels balanced on the cusp of so many exciting possibilities and challenging decisions. As an added bonus, as a YA author I don’t have to write about things like mortgages. PTA
meetings. Work weeks. Bad backs. ED. Etc. I want to concentrate on the freedom my
characters have. The freedom to take fabulous risks, succeed gloriously, or slam head on
into “epic fails.”

I love how wide open people are at that age, before life has really had a chance to squat
on their craniums and cram their dreams down into their necks. I love the energy my
readers bring to the books they read; that energy fits perfectly with a book like Throat.
I love to read (and write) books that are popping with big ideas and crazy interesting
characters. And I trust that my readers are looking for just that: a book that can transport
them, allow them to live a little while in a very strange new place.

But what I’m talking about in a reader is not something that can be measured so much in
years, but in dreams. I’m fascinated by the mind that never grows old. That’s the kind of
reader I’m thrilled to cultivate and capture. Imagination doesn’t have an age.

Follow R.A. Nelson on his blog tour for
Monday, April 25thBooks with Bite
Tuesday, April 26thPatricia’s Vampire Notes
Wednesday, April 27thBite Club
Thursday, April 28thSuvudu
Friday, April 29thRandom Acts of Reading
Saturday, April 30thDangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered
We’ll be tweeting about R.A. Nelson's blog tour on @RandomHouseKids!
(Follow the author: @RANelsonYA)

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Hi, Will this book be in hardback? Do you have anymore plans to write a sequel? What is you history with NASA? Cant wait to read it. I just started reading a few YA books.