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Saturday, February 26, 2011

On Writing Something Completely Different

I don't really know how to start this I guess I'll start by admitting that the first novel I wrote (in this case novel is synonymous with a whole bunch of dot-matrix printer paper that I put in a box) was a vampire novel inspired by Anne Rice and my fascinating experiences as a 10th grader.

With that being said, (mostly because I tried a lot of other ways to start this post and discarded all of them) :) I will address the fact that in the last couple years, I've changed many things about the voice, style, and scope of my stories.

I guess the best way to understand is to drift back to the circumstances in my life when I wrote Handcuffs. I had a one year old and a three year old. I wanted to do something for myself, to get back to the creative self that I had sort of left behind in graduate school and marriage and being an intern teacher. But I wasn't ready for intense world building. I hadn't slept for a full night in 3 years!

And there were a lot of things about Handcuffs that were cathartic. High school demons exorcised (okay that was a bit too dramatic), how about impressions about the awfulness of high school that I wanted to try to express.

And there's a lot of me in Parker, the main character in Handcuffs.

A few years later, I had an idea. I wasn't sure if I could carry it out. I questioned myself constantly. But I jumped into it, and the results have felt pretty right.

What I came up with was a mix of gothic, historical, dark, with some romantic/sexy elements. Now that my kids are older, I have enough sleep to tackle world building! I'm not planning any more big changes. I have a new idea bouncing around in my head. Haven't talked about it yet, except with my poor sounding board husband and my favorite YA librarian, but it's very gothic/victorian, dark, and sexy, with no reference to Edgar Allan Poe at all. I'm very excited about it.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering...I have less desire to ever write about the vampires I envisioned in 10th grade, than I do to try to load my laser printer with yellowing dot matrix paper... :)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your darker gothic voice, so I'm glad you've got the time and courage to evolve your style and voice.

February 26, 2011 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

I think it's great that you're writing something completely different. Go where inspiration takes you, you know? I know everyone says to build a platform or establish yourself in a certain genre, but that's not for everyone and you shouldn't be afraid to branch out. Elizabeth Scott is a great example of branching out into something dark, and Melina Marchetta (who writes a lot of contemp) wrote a fantasy that was out of this world.

BTW - Lestat is my first love. :)

February 27, 2011 at 5:28 AM  
Blogger bethany griffin said...

I loved Louis first, but I can't argue with loving Lestat!

February 27, 2011 at 5:42 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Great post, Bethany! I didn't realize how many similarities we had regarding our big jump into writing and its origination stemming from a desperate need to have some "Me" time. Writing was my personal escape from being a wife and being a mom and all the responsibilities that come with doing those things full-time.

I think it's great that you are exploring whatever genre calls to you. That is part of being creative. I mean, if I were an artist, i can't imagine just painting flowers over and over again. Just because I'm good at painting flowers and I may have sold artwork of painted flowers doesn't mean I should have to spend the next years of my life painting flowers. BORING.

Good luck to you and the new direction your creative juices have taken you. Can't wait to see what you produce. Talent is talent and I'm sure it will be great!!!

February 27, 2011 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger Heather Dougherty said...

Bethany - as a fan of your writing, period - I'm all on board for dark and sexy. This sort of reminds me of Stephen King. One of my favorite books of all time is The Eyes of the Dragon, yet I grew up on and adore his scary/creepy stuff too.

I guess my point is, YAY for new and different. When you write what works for your heart and soul - the end result is good writing, which is what I like to read.

So, when is this dark, gothic, sexy stuff coming out? I'd like to read!

February 27, 2011 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger erica_henry said...

Good luck Bethany with the new direction! Sometimes, it is just what you need. Go with your heart!

February 27, 2011 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Janine said...

Yay for something new! I love the idea of gothic/victorian (dare I say steampunk?) romance. I love to escape into a book. Good luck!

February 27, 2011 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Elissa J. Hoole said...

I love the dark new voice, bethany, and I think it shows your range and growth as a writer. Don't be too quick to dismiss the work you did on Handcuffs, though--it, too, was a well-crafted novel with a strong voice.

February 27, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger bethany griffin said...

Aww, you guys are too nice. :) Do you know, I haven't read Handcuffs in years. But I am proud of it. Very proud of it.

February 27, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger amy said...

I think it's okay for people to write more than one kind of thing.

February 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Debra Driza said...

I'm right with you and Mel, Bethany, re: getting into writing again once I had kids, and for similar reasons. And I'm so glad I did! :)

I think gothic/Victorian sounds different and awesome--best of luck to you on your new project, WOOT!

February 27, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger bethany griffin said...

Once you have kids your time is so much more precious. I wasted soooo much time before I had kids!

February 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Krista Ashe said...

I think it's only natural for writers to involve and change. I mean, as people, our interest change as we grow and mature, so why shouldn't our writing? I look at the "adult" mega writers who are now writing YA...that has to be a kinda leap for them.

I also think of Laurie Halse Anderson who is a master of YA Contemp, but then her MG historicals totally hooked me. She is the author I want to be when I grow up! I also look at Meg Cabot who has written everything from Contemp, suspense, paranormal, EVERYTHING, lol. I wanna be her too!

Maybe I'm biased because the first "real" book I wrote is an adult literary fiction....heavy on the Southern and inspirational/religion. I never envisioned writing YA, although I did a stint with the Institute of Children's Writing. But I read Twilight in Nov. 08' and bada bing, I got the idea for The Guardians, my angels in HS story. The rest is history, and now I can't imagine going back and writing adult.

I'm also a YA chameleon...There's the YAUF with the Guardians, that's currently on submission....I landed my agent with a Contemp, and I have several other Contemps(one completed, and numerous WIPS, lol), and then when my agent asked me to think about doing a Dystopian, I did. There's also a 60s SNI waiting to come forth and be born too, so there's my historical edge!

February 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Chanelle said...

I LOVED Handcuffs. Its one of my favourite books. But I do think whatever you come out with next will be great. Different state of minds will produce different things. But I have no doubt it'll be amazing.

February 27, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Alina said...

I think that's wonderful! My book that will be published is a YA contemp and the one I'm working on now is a mid-grade fantasy. I think you've gotta write what you want to write. Your new direction sounds fantastic and intriguing. Good luck!

February 27, 2011 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Amanda Morgan said...

I love it when writers have the talent to work in different genres. Go girl!

February 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM  

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