February Answers

| Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Today's Tune: 5 Years Time

Thanks for the questions on Monday! Aaaaand here are your answers. THE ANTICIPATION. I BET IT'S KILLING YOU. By the way, if you have additional questions, feel free to ask them in comments today. I'll try to swing by and answer at some point.

And now! Questions!

What are you currently working on? Are you editing your novel with your agent, or working on something new?

TICK-TOCK is definitely taking up the bulk of my creative time at the moment. I recently finished a major revision pass for my agent and got it back to her, and she's writing me a few additional notes and we're going to do another (much smaller, hopefully) pass. Other than that, I'm working on the synopsis for Book 2 (more on that later in this post!), and occasionally playing with my "fun" project, which is a YA post-apocalyptic (I know, I know, that's why it's "for fun"), which is something like Waterworld meets Escape From LA meets something with sisters who love each other very much.

Also, what's the song you've been listening to the most, recently?

Way more LMFAO than I'd care to admit. The fiance has had their singles as brainworms for the last three weeks, so they're getting a lot of play around here. For me personally, I've been listening to "Dead Hearts" by Stars. A lot. So much so that it's probably going to be Book 2's theme song. Which sounds depressing now that I think about it.

I'll ask a related one--do you see Tick Tock as the first in a series, and if so, are you working at all on a sequel?

I can't get too much into this for now (FORGIVE MY SECRECY), but yes, there is a sequel planned for TICK-TOCK. It's currently in the planning/outlining stages and coming along nicely.

In a favourite author interview of mine, between JK Rowling and Oprah, Rowling comments at one point, "This is probably true of all writers, but sometimes I know what I believe because of what I've written." I've noticed there are a few themes that I've subconsciously worked in to most or all of the stories I've written so far. Do you find themes repeatedly crop up in your stories (or you deliberately work them in), and if so, what are they?

NICE. This is a big question. The short answer is yes, I definitely do have themes that I notice crop up in my work. Some I intentionally work in, others pop up on their own. The most obvious theme is feminism and creating empowered roles for females. They come in a variety of types -- science nerds, superpowered fighters, clever mechanics, sassy fashionistas -- but the common theme is that they have independent streaks and support themselves and one another.

Other themes in my work include broken families and/or building new families, finding hope/freedom, loss, friendship, literary or historical references, and moral gray areas. This all ties in to both my background (child of divorce, eternal optimist, personal loss) and my personal philosophy (knowledge is good, the world is vast and beautiful, nothing is black and white). There are probably many more that I don't even notice.

What do you think about the possible power imbalance in a relationship with an age gap in YA novels?

Oooooh, GOOD question. I will admit upfront that I am biased between age gaps of more than a few years in media for adolescents. My reasons for this are personal and have a lot to do with watching friends be taken advantage of and personally experiencing predatory behavior from significantly older men, so, there that is. I don't like to make blanket judgements on teenagers' maturity, because I am an advocate for the power and intelligence of teens and I think they're more capable than they're given credit for a lot of the time.

With that said, I do think there are different levels of experience and that the stage of life you're in has a lot to do with that. I was a different person in middle school than I was in high school. I was different again after a single year of college. Being on your own and having even the illusion of adulthood does a lot to change a person. It gives you insight you didn't have before, and it makes it possible to use that insight for evil, if I may be so melodramatic. You understand the mentality of younger teens because you've been there, and you can use that to your advantage.

ANYWAY BLAH BLAH BLAH. To answer the question at hand, I do have issues with wide age gaps portrayed in a positive manner in YA. Like, I don't know, young men who actually have 100+ years of experience and wisdom finding an equal partner in a teenage girl and claiming that they've "never met" anyone with her maturity/selflessness/bravery/whatever? I'm sorry. I don't buy it. At all.

Look, I completely buy the concept of "old souls" and that some people display wisdom beyond their years. I think there's reality behind teenage girls dating "up" because the men a few years older have a different maturity level. However, I have deep-seated personal issues with someone significantly removed from the teenage sphere taking a romantic interest in teens. I find it creepy and predatory. It feels too much like an interest in a mature body and a not-fully-mature mind. Too much opportunity for imbalance there. And yes, that applies to older, wiser men who still look like 17-year-old boys.

On the flip side, I thought the trope of much-older romantic interest with much-younger girl was handled very well in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE because (SPOILERS) Karau is herself an old soul -- literally. She's reincarnated, and her memories are returned to her. Thus the age/experience imbalance is rendered moot.

WHEW. DID I ANSWER YOUR QUESTION? Obviously I have a lot of FEELINGS on the issue.

Thank you all so much for your questions! Feel free to ask more in comments if you'd like.


{ vic caswell (aspiring-x) } at: February 8, 2012 at 7:02 AM said...

yes! thank you for the age schism rant!

{ We Heart YA } at: February 8, 2012 at 3:53 PM said...

VERY interesting Q&A. Particularly the last two, but all of them really. Thanks for sharing your insights!

{ Emy Shin } at: February 8, 2012 at 9:16 PM said...

:D Awesome answer, Stephanie! I admit I asked the last question partly because it features prominently in my WiP (and not of the centuries old immortal kind, either), but I LOVE your answer. I agree so very much that it worked in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE because Karou herself is also an old-soul, technically. (Although I [i]was[/i] a bit disconcerted before the reveal.)

And yay for your writing going well!

{ Seabrooke } at: February 12, 2012 at 11:19 AM said...

Thanks for the thoughtful answers. :) Your personal philosophy sounds a lot like mine. One of the several themes that I've seen turn up in pretty much every story I've written is the nothing is black and white, which you mention. For instance, all my villains end up with sad and sometimes heart-wrenching backstories that are the motivations for their actions, and I hope the reader ends up feeling a bit of pity and understanding even as they hate them.

And totally agree on the age thing, too! Though it's partly a reflection of our current culture, where we aim to be within a decade of our partner and outside that seems creepy. But if you go back a couple hundred years, large age differences was not only accepted, it was more often the norm, since older men were the ones with the means to support wives/families.

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