August 8, 2016
We are happy to share with you
Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia!
We have Rhahul on the blog today talking about Writing YA.
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.
Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.
What's a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent's help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.
But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she's already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.
Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)
All the time people ask me why I write YA novels (this is a common question that all YA authors get). And the real answer has to do with my path through life. I wrote a book with a young protagonist, and only then started thinking about the best place to sell it. But I think the real question is, “Why write about teenagers?”
And the answer is that for a long time that’s all I could write about. I mean, I wrote novels about adults, too, but they were terrible. They were mechanical and authorly; I was trying to write a book, but I wasn’t feeling the book. Whereas when I wrote about teens, something else took hold of me, and I was able to discover and follow the logic of my book.
I think that ‘something’ was memory, really. Not the memory of any particular moment, but more the memory of being able to feel things so deeply. You need those deep feelings in books for adults too, but they’re harder to find. Adult life doesn’t contain as much room for them. Whereas when you’re a teen, those feelings can be found in the smallest thing.
In YA novels, loneliness is a frequent theme: so many books are about friendless people who finally find that one person who can see their specialness. For instance, my debut novel, Enter Title Here, is about a girl who has spent her life working hard and studying hard. She cares about only one thing: being number one. But she realizes at some point that this is off-putting to people. She comes off as cold and robotic. And in order to successfully write a novel about her own life, which is what she thinks she needs to do in order to get into Stanford, she believes she has to go out and go to parties and, most importantly, find a best friend.
That’s compelling. It needs no explanation. When you’re a teen, it’s intuitively obvious that having a best friend is such an important thing.
And you would think that this would hold true for adults, too. After all, adults enjoy friendship. Adults feel loneliness. Couldn’t you write an adult novel about a lonely guy who needs to find a best friend?
Yes. You could. But…it wouldn’t be easy. You’d need to be a more skillful writer. You’d have to create the case that friendship is particularly important for this person. Because the sad truth is that adults don’t feel these sorrows nearly as keenly. A teenager might die for lack of friends. Whereas it’s almost the norm for an adult, particularly an adult man, to have no close friends.
Growing up means learning to tolerate the intolerable. And you do it, mostly, by forgetting. Because if we could remember the dreams we had for ourselves when we were teens: the dream of being accepted and understood, then there’s no way we could live the way that we do.
And getting back those dreams is pretty difficult, because mostly we don’t realize they’re lost. So many emotions were locked away for me, and it was only when I started writing this book, Enter Title Here, that I remembered all of that fear and anger and hope. It’s so easy, when you’re grown, to say that teenagers feel strongly about really silly stuff. But when I was writing this book, I knew, deep inside, that these were matters of life or death. Reshma needs to find a friend. She needs to write this book. She needs to get into college. And that, I think, was when I first started to remember all the feelings I never knew I’d lost.
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