Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ophelia's Daughters

Writers write for themselves or at least I think they should. Much has been written about a writer understanding the audience he or she is writing for. There’s a lot of misinformation (for newbies) about emulating the best sellers and giving their audience what you think readers want in terms of characters, settings, etc. In the words of one ebullient philosopher, ‘That’s all hooey.’

I believe you write what you want to write about, what drives your interest, what gets you out of bed in the morning and plants you in front of your keyboard. You should write from the heart and hope there is an audience for your work.

I’ve never tried to write with a specific audience in mind. In the beginning, I was mildly surprised to learn that a lot of women liked my western novels. I had foolishly decided who my audience was and totally missed an important segment of the reading public in the process. If you asked me about the YA, young adult market, I could honestly plead ignorance.

My last novel, ‘Follow the Cobbler,’ is a suspense thriller that follows my protagonist Brian, and his fellow traveler Katherine, around the world in pursuit of an elusive character simply known as ‘the cobbler.’ They are, in turn, being pursued by hunter-assassins known only as ‘the druids’ (named after a religious sect from early Roman times in ancient Britannia.) The novel contains some scenes of violence, sexual tension, romance, intrigue and many references to ancient times. It would hardly seem to be the fare for younger minds. Vida, my editor, thought differently.

I’ve been down that long arduous road called ‘being a teenager’ before. Teen angst is nothing new to me but it’s certainly not a back road I’d care to retrace at this stage in my life. So I was more than a little taken aback when Vida suggested that ‘Cobbler’ might be a good YA novel if edited properly. And she knew just the teens to do it. Imagine that, me writing for teens? Turns out the notion wasn’t that far-fetched. It just took a set of younger eyes to see it for me.

Amelie and Nedda are a couple of precocious twins with fearless hearts and critical eyes who were able to turn my 566-page juggernaut into a novel for the YA market. Other YA novels such as the Twilight series and The Hunger Games have proven immensely popular with teens and pre-teens. Upon reflection, I think there’s no reason why this newly revised version of ‘Cobbler’ might not do the same.

The twins spent last winter editing my manuscript, designing a new book cover and changing the title from ‘Follow the Cobbler’ to ‘Chasing Ophelia.’ They had carte blanche freedom to go as far or as easy as they wanted to in editing my work. My reasoning was simple. If they were Vida’s daughters, I was in good hands. I love the new book cover and title. Readers will very quickly grasp the significance of the cover and its background of Celtic symbols.

Now the real work begins. Vida has written a press release which we are actively sending out to local newspapers, magazines, tabloids and anywhere else we think might print it. We have beta readers reading the novel right now and giving us feedback on the YA marketplace. I hope to place the book in local bookstores and libraries upon my return to the Twin Cities. I have a ‘Meet the Author’ presentation scheduled for October 18th at the Rosemount Library.

Of course, it was only fitting that my eldest granddaughter, Maya, be the first in the family to read ‘Ophelia.’ Her twin siblings are clamoring for their chance at the book, as are the Minnesota cousins. Their time will come with, I hope, that of a lot of other teens and pre-teens.

Recently our local newspaper picked up the story of the girls. A nice tribute to Amelie and Nedda and the great job they did on creating my newest YA novel.

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