February 14, 2012

Guest Post by Melanie Cusick-Jones, Author of Hope’s Daughter

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  Today we have Melanie Cusick-Jones, author of Hope’s Daughter, stopping by to talk to us on one of the most romantic days of the year about
Before we hear Melanie’s thoughts, feast your eye’s on her wonderful novel entitled:
Hope’s Daughter
Life should be simple for Cassie.For the small population of Earth survivors who live on the Space Station Hope everything they do is planned and scheduled, down to the cyclical food menus, their roles in the station, even how many children they have.Despite rigid controls directing her life, Cassie feels more out of synch than ever and worries she won’t find a place for herself within the station community. Perhaps that’s because she’s hearing things inside her head that can’t possibly be real. Or maybe it’s the regular elopements of her peers, heading off to a romantic future in the Married Quarter of the space station, whilst she’s never even been attracted to a boy – no matter how hard her best friend Ami pushes them at her. Then there are the odd questions her work placement partner Balik keeps raising. His questions are just as troubling for her as his distracting smiles and eyes that seem to see inside her.

As Cassie draws closer to Balik she finds that everything else in her life begins to shift. He tells her things that call into question the system they live within. She can’t believe he is right, but at the same time she finds it hard to deny the sincerity of his ideas. Could there be a connection between Cassie’s problems and Balik’s questions? The truth will drag them both to a terrifying and deadly conclusion beyond anything they could have imagined.

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Love is……all around us?
…all you need?
…a battlefield?Love. This short word: one syllable, four little letters, but so many meanings and ways it can play out. Love that brings smiles and laughter…love that can break you into pieces…and it’s all rolled up into this simple declaration.
As it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s leave the difficult aspects behind for a while and focus on the best parts of love…the ones that – cheesy as it sounds – make your heart expand inside your ribcage, or smile at the words in a book as you read them.
When you’re building a relationship between characters in a book I think it must be hard for any writer not to put their own experiences or feelings about love into the story. And because of this you end up with a huge variety of romances. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the emotional, flakey girls you sometimes get – who wants to be a doormat? We all make mistakes and get walked on sometimes, but for me you should learn from the experience, not keep doing it! I also struggle with the real love/hate relationships – mainly because personally if I don’t like someone that’s it: I don’t like them. I only argue if I’m really angry, not just for the hell of it and so these pairings don’t resonate as deeply with me as others. But I know that these absolutely do for other people – maybe I’m not feisty enough or something :)
For me the best couples in books are the ones who pull together to fight outwards, not inwards.

My Favourite Couples 
Peeta and Katniss
The Hunger Games  
Lydia and Chang
The Russian Concubine 
Balik and Cassie
Hope’s Daughter

They might not always agree on things – and I like some heated debate from strong characters – but their outlook and actions are usually united in the end. This tends to feel more real to me, because this is how I’ve found things to work in life. So far, at least… My favourite couples compliment one other, and I suppose one of the things I like best is the balance in these pairings. The girls can be strong and the guys can care, or vice versa. Our lovely heroines don’t always need a knight in shining armour to save them from the world, but it’s nice to know that the guys would take that role all the same.

I think one thing most people like in fictional relationships is the tension. The will-they-won’t-they friction, first kisses and of course when they fall for each other. I know for me that I love the ‘falling for’ bit, which is why I usually like the first books in a series best, when all that happens.
When I was writing Hope’s Daughter I would get little giddy moments in my own head when I was creating certain scenes, trying to draw out the tension between the characters. A favourite is the first time Balik kisses Cassie. There’s quite a lot of banter in their relationship that revolves around their different issues with life on the space station, as well as playing on the uncertainty of whether or not they like each other. Both of them can be a little sarcastic too and this side of them comes out slightly differently when they’re in emotional situations. Personally, I think Balik teases Cassie to distract her from his own nervousness…
Can love conquer all?
Perhaps not everything, but I think it will certainly take you a long way. And love that means you would protect someone else over yourself – that definitely exists as much in real life as the pages of your books. Where would we be without love? Certainly YA books would not be quite so much fun without the triangles, tension and raging hormones would they :)
Happy Valentine’s Day! 
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1 Comment

  1. Mel C-J

    Thanks for having me on the blog for Valentine's :) I really enjoyed writing this post. As I'll be dateless this evening – I'll be digging out something good to read instead – at least someone else might have the perfect love life where work and travel don't get in the way!

    Mel x

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