Wednesday, August 22, 2012
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Blog Tour: Chris Reynold's Mind Secrets
Pump Up Tour: Mind Secrets by Chris Reynolds
HOW I WRITE FOR THE MODERN TEENAGER
By Chris Reynolds
Being a teenager can be the best time of life. It’s the point where all the frivolities of childhood are left behind and we get to explore the things the wider world has to offer — like music and films and the other sex. It can the worst time as well, of course, as every emotion and every experience is heightened.
What we experience at that impressionable age stays with us for life. There are no better movies than the movies we watched as a teenager, and the music back then was far better than anything we’ve heard before or since. For the readers among us, those teenage years were ones of discovery as we left behind The Very Hungry Caterpillar and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books and investigated more grown-up stories. The books I read at that age still live with me, whereas the books I read last year I can barely remember. It is one of the reasons I wanted to write for this audience.
There’s no room for writerly self-indulgence in a young adult book, no time for long poetic description of fields in bloom or in-depth introspection into character. Everything is about the story, the turning of the page, the development of the plot, with the characters and the settings emerging along the way.
But how to write for the modern teenager? That is the dilemma. As much as I want to re-live my youth, I cannot deny that it has been a while since I was in my teens (just look at my bathroom cupboard with its hair dye which promises to ‘cover all grey’). But to write about that world and for the people who exist in that world, I have to enter that world in my imagination — or do I?
Is the modern teenager really that different? Are the girls who screamed at The Beatles any different than those who screamed at Duran Duran or who now scream at One Direction? The landscape has changed, the gadgets have changed — the record player became the cassette player, became the CD player, became the ipod — but the basic experiences of life have not. Kids still go through puberty, they still feel like adults don’t understand them and they still experience things at an emotional intensity just like they always have.
It is those feelings that I concentrate on when writing young adult fiction. They are constant, I understand them and I also went through them. I don’t try to be up to date or refer to things that are happening now, because by the time the book comes out, it is all history. While it might be considered ‘cool’ to scream at One Direction today, tomorrow there will a new band along with a whole new group of screaming fans. But to leave out references to culture entirely is to leave a hole in the novel and that can make the story seem one-removed from reality. The trick is to insert references to things which are unique to the novel.
In Mind Secrets, the setting is contemporary London, but just a little way into the future. So the references I make are based on the world we live in with a little twist. Mobile phones are known as ‘handhelds’, while I decided to call the Prime Minister Mr Pankhurst rather than use more recent incumbents of Number Ten such as Cameron, Blair or Brown.
Slang is one another area which is shifting and changing and keeping up with it is almost impossible. First of all, it is difficult to replicate the way teenagers talk without being a teenager yourself and, even then, slang terms date very quickly and can vary in different parts of the country. So I simply invented my own slang and found one word which could stand in for almost any swear word. The word I chose was “skank”. It has a great sound and can be used in lots of sentences from “you’re such a skank” to “where the skank have you been?” and “what the skanking hell are you up to?”. I realised subsequently that it is a drug reference and has already been used as slang in some communities, but I made it my own and it seems to work.
Another thing I looked at was the differences in a teenager’s world today compared to my teenage years. When I was growing up, the idea of having telepathy — of being able to talk to your friends using just your mind — was a fantastic idea. How I would have loved to do that! But now that teenagers have mobile phones and can text or call each other whenever they want, it didn’t seem such a desirable power. So I restricted their mind powers to be able to see into other people’s minds, to eavesdrop on someone else’s privacy, which seemed much more sinister — especially for the ‘Norms’ who don’t have their power.
As for the characters, I remembered what it had been like for me and extrapolated how I would have react if I was a Perceiver in a world where adults treated me with suspicion. It is the only way to create realism in the novel — even in urban fantasy. Teenagers will always have the same feelings about growing up into an adult world, no matter how society and technology changes around them, and that was what I wanted to capture.
About the Author:
Chris Reynolds is a lover of adventure stories. Chris spent her time growing up avidly reading them, watching them on TV and writing them in her school exercise books. She was often frustrated that stories written by other people didn’t go the way she wanted them to, so she decided to write her own. In the interim, she has worked for the BBC and independent radio as a journalist, written for magazines and some published non-fiction books. Now her stories are available for all to read, following the release of her acclaimed debut novel Mind Secrets.
Chris lives among the Chiltern Hills, north of London.
Chris’s online home
About the Book:
On the run and without his memories, Michael escapes from a man called Carter onto the unfamiliar streets of London. There, he meets a gang of teenagers with the power to sense the thoughts and feelings of others. They live in fear of ‘the cure’, a mysterious process which takes away their power and, some believe, destroys their personality. Suspecting the cure caused his memory loss, Michael goes undercover to investigate the truth behind the doctors of the cure clinic. What he discovers leads him to a conspiracy that runs to the heart of government and reveals the shocking reality of his own past.
Mind Secrets is a compelling thriller set in a contemporary world and will appeal to anyone who’s ever wondered what it’s like to have mind powers.
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