Good evening from Copenhagen! My work today is fun and exciting, because there are a lot of giveaways going on for We Rule the Night! If you haven’t read about girls flying planes and kicking ass and fighting lots of things, but mostly each other, and you’d like to, you have the chance to win an advance reader copy not once, not twice, but THREE times.
Head over to Goodreadsand enter the giveaway by February 21st to win one of ten copies! Unfortunately only eligible to those who live in the United States.
EDIT: This giveaway is now closed. Check out the other two!
If you’re the reviewing type, Little, Brown’s YA blog division, NOVL, is looking for reviewers as well. I’m not sure when the window closes, so head over now and fill out your info! (I don’t know whether this one is US only or not. Why not give it a go, my international friends?)
It has come to my attention that I miiiight have an extra Advance Reader Copy or two lying around, just waiting for a loving home. Who should I give it to?
Twitter can be a magical place, full of people who expand my horizons and teach me new things about the world and my craft.
It is also full of what some people might call hot takes. Personally, I think most of them are lukewarm at best.
Examples of hot takes gone wrong abound on twitter, but what got me thinking about tropes and their value was a take on the ballroom Scene that can be found in numerous YAs. I’m not going to link to the debate, but some people seem to think that the YA ballroom scene is Over.
People smarter than me were quick to jump in, first and foremost to say that for many marginalized identities, the ballroom scene hasn’t happened yet – or maybe it’s happened once, and is that really too much? Declaring it over ignores what some people need in terms of representation. But, like I said, smarter people than me have weighed in on that. I want to weigh in on the value of a trope, and what it can do for us.
Some tropes are damaging, like Bury Your Gays. Some tropes are irritating, like romantic problems that can be solved by simple explanation, but Plot dictates that the romantic characters fail to have a real conversation. And it’s fine to be irritated by a trope. You don’t even need a reason not to like a specific trope. But I argue that the Ballroom Scene is a good trope, objectively.
The Ballroom Scene is versatile. It can take place in any setting – historical, dystopian, high fantasy, space opera. But it’s versatile in what it can do, too. The ballroom scene fits at almost any part of a book. Your assassin can have a high stakes pursuit of her target at a ball. Your lovers can meet at a ball. You can have mistaken identity, court intrigue, an attempt on someone’s life – or all of those, all at once. People can get together or break up at a ball. And maybe that’s why the trope is used so much. There are so many ways that writers can use it.
So is the trope really over? Is it fair to declare a trope over for no other reason than you’ve read it more than you’d like? I think the Ballroom Scene has a place in YA literature – and beyond – for a long while yet.
Like the last post, this is an interview with a fellow member of #51writers, the twitter hashtag for and about strong female protagonists. I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Ashley Hansen, and if you want to learn more about her amazing YA project, read further!
Welcome, Ashley. Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for doing this interview! I am a full time mom, a part time geologist, and a writer in between. I’ve been making up stories since I was a small kid, but I didn’t start writing them until high school. I wasn’t brave enough to show anyone until I turned 30, and thought, what do I have to lose? I live in Utah with my husband, three kids, and two cats, and when I’m not writing I like to knit, run, hike, and bake.
It sounds like you like all the things I do! Except running, haha. I cycle out of necessity but that’s basically all the exercise I can stand. On to the next question: what do you like to write?
My first novel is with beta readers right now. It’s a young adult fantasy/fairy tale retelling about a girl who wanted to be a chemist before she found out she was a princess. While I wait for feedback I’m working on the sequel. I tend to stick to young adult, but I’d like to write more than just fantasy. I have an idea and some scenes written for a YA contemporary, that I want to get back to at some point.
Ooh. What fairy tale are you telling?
Sleeping Beauty. It’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid, but as an adult I want to know about the actual princess a little more. So I decided to write about it.
What do you like to read, but not write?
That’s a great question! I love reading books that have humor, but I cannot write it. I also like reading adult books, even though I focus on young adult for my writing. And I do read non-fiction too, but I think it takes a really unique and talented person to take a bunch of facts and weave them into an interesting story. I’m not sure I have the patience for that.
we were brought together by #51writers, which aims to give love to strong female characters. Who’s your favorite strong female character right now?
There are so many great female characters, it’s hard to choose. Right now I think my favorite female character is Sang Ly from The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. Sang Ly is a woman who lives in a dump in Cambodia and has a baby that is sick. What I love about her is that she takes action to make her life better. She has to go completely out on a limb, and she has to have help, but she persists, and improves her life and that of her family. I love that she uses both her traditions and a new education to do so. While I love heroines that save the whole world because they are so fun to read, my favorites tend to be the ones that make a difference in smaller but no less heroic ways.
That book sounds amazing. I have two more questions: First, how do you keep yourself from getting distracted in this age of distractions with work, kids, pets, Netflix and so on?
I try to set aside some time for writing activities everyday. For me, it’s while my kids are at school, and the baby naps. Writing activities can include writing, but also include editing, beta reading, researching, or anything else that gets me closer to my goals. I also set aside time to relax, so that I don’t get overwhelmed by everything.
And lastly: what is one piece of advice you know now that you wish you’d heard back when you were getting started?
My advice would be to connect with other writers. This was one thing that seemed really daunting to me when I first started, but I’ve found that there are so many people who can help you grow and support you. It will make you a better writer and make writing more enjoyable. Whether that means you join a local writer’s group, attend writing conferences, or engage with writers using social media, get out there and meet other writers.
That is a great piece of advice. And that’s the interview for today! Thank you to Ashley for joining me and discussing her process and preferences.