As I head out on vacation with my family, I am featuring guest bloggers who write YA. I’m eager to share their insights in the genre close to my heart. First up is June Breland Whatley. She’s already written a nonfiction book and is turning her hand to a YA novel. Welcome, June!
One of the great things about YA fiction is that you can write in any genre as along as your main character is a teen. What genre do you write? Why?
I’m currently working on, Beware the Fallen. It is an Allegory, or some people call it a Speculative, because it is set in a ‘fallen garden of Eden’-type setting. I love writing about Christian discovery and growth for young people because research shows that possibly as many as 85% of Christian teens, when they go to a secular college, fall away from church and away from their faith. I would like to help instill a deeper understanding and deeper faith in our young people. We need young ‘heroes of faith’ today.
Which comes first when starting a story – character, plot, or setting?
That is hard to say. The original idea for Beware the Fallen came from some photos of a friend’s children. That gave me an idea for a story and I had my characters. Beware the Fallen has grown from there. But these days the plot comes first, although the characters in this book and the next #2 and #3 are the same. They have become very personal to me. They are like family that I want to help train. I guess I would say, characters come first and then they write the plot.
Most YA writers aren’t YA. How do you write authentically about characters younger than you are?
I was young once, although I don’t think that counts because things are so much different today. I rely on my grandkids for inspiration and the new words for this generation. My grandson is about the age of the main character Ashton, though he is more of a Mican by nature. (Just a teaser for the book.)
What are some other unique challenges about writing YA?
Building a platform of YA readers is a challenge. They ‘friend’ people their own age, but I haven’t found a way to get into their Social Media circle. Mostly I have parents and other writers on Fb, Twitter, etc. Does anyone have any tips to share? Part of the holdup is that the book is not yet published, but I’m working with an editor.
What’s been your most unusual source of inspiration for a story or character?
I guess that would be the horse, named Warrior. As I have mentioned, my characters for this series were inspired by some amazing photos. The photographer had the children dressed in ‘period’ costumes. There was even a horse in the pics that knelt to the little girl. I named him Warrior. He took on a personality and a role of his own. The whole story grew from those great photographs.
I will gladly send chapter 1 of Beware the Fallen to anyone who is interested. To receive your copy, send a (1.) friends’ request and a (2.) private message with (3.) your email address to either of the pages above and (4.) Like the page (if you enjoy the chapter). Thank you, and Blessings!
My previous book is available, #LifeChange: A Treasure Hunt for More is currently available under the name June Breland Whatley on Amazon. It is nonfiction, for MG-Senior Adults. It is about a dream from the Lord and shows how some people fear becoming a Christian and how to protect oneself from attack, even after becoming a Christian.
I earned a combination Master of Arts degree, in Education/Counseling, from Regent University. I have worked as a teacher, college counselor and a testing tech for a Neuropsychologist, but my life goal, through my writing and speaking, is to introduce people to Christ or give them tools to draw closer to Him.
The first book was on socialization, to the Homeschool Market, Will My Child Fit? Socialization no longer seems to be the issue, as it was twenty years ago, so it is out of print.
Beware the Fallen will be my third book.
I earned a combination Master of Arts degree, in Education/Counseling, from Regent University. I have worked as a teacher, college counselor and a Testing Tech for a Neuropsychologist, but my life goal, through my writing and speaking, is to introduce people to Christ or give them tools to draw closer to Him.