The Novel Approach welcomes author Mia Kerick today on her Love Spell blog tour. Enjoy the mini-interview we did together, then be sure to enter for the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.
TNA: Hi, Mia, it’s good to have you back for a visit.
Mia: Thank you. As always (I write a lot of books) I am thrilled to be here!!
TNA: Could you come up with a paragraph or two (or more) for us about your writing process?
Mia: I start the writing process by doing research on what is going to be the major theme of the book. This constitutesa good part of the hard work I conduct prior to the fun stuff, which is the creating of characters. (Character creation=frosting on the cupcake.) For Love Spell, my research focused on gender confusion. I had a concept in my mind of Chance César—a teenage boy who is quite in touch with his feminine side, even admitting he wishes, at times, that he were a girl. But he has no urge to physically transition to become a woman or even to live his life as a woman. Chance just wants to be all-girl sometimes, all-boy others, and a little bit of each in-between.
After researching the theme I will tackle, I spend time creating a rough version of a plot. This part is difficult and intense. For the most part, I just sit and think. I think about popular culture, events in the news, what kinds of things kids deal with everyday, current music, and music that spoke to me as a teenager. Themes of different song lyrics give me ideas, as do people I see in real life and issues I am confronted with on social media. Sometimes I even think about fairy tales to get plot ideas. This can feel like a desperate time for me until I have the plot idea, and then I feel AWESOME.
The next step in my writing process involves creating a very rough outline of the events that will take place in the story. I do not use a standard outline form, just a long rambling list.
And then the fun part—creating the characters. I take the mental image I have conceived and flesh it out fully. First I write a description of the character’s personality and appearance, very detailed, and then I search for visual images. This part is fun, but can be tough. I do not stop until I have a visual “YOU ARE MR. RIGHT” feeling about the image I have chosen for each character. My original mental image of Chance César was a Johnny Depp-as-a-pirate kind of guy-but with Edward Scissorhands hair in neon ORANGE. Heavy eyeliner included.
Time to start writing!!
TNA: Do you go into the writing of a book like Love Spell in a different mindset than you would, say, a book like Not Broken, Just Bent? Does the difference between writing a lighthearted book and one with a weightier theme affect your mood away from the computer, or are you able to leave your emotions at the keyboard when you step away?
Mia: Love Spell was so much fun to write, from the very birth of its concept. Similar to my mental preparation for writing The Red Sheet, I told myself that, as an author, I was just going to let myself go. I would write whatever I wanted—I’d break rules. And let my sense of humor show. Some of my most recent releases, like Here Without You, for example, required me to stay within a rigid structure. Each of the three young men in Here Without You had speech patterns and behaviors and pasts to which I had to stay consistent. Inclination involved two boys with a very certain mindset, that of devout Christians, and as such, they did not veer much from their life goals. Although they were learning and changing, I was to some extent restricted by these characters’ well-defined convictions.
Chance is “totes” different. He is unpredictable and wears no label. (He claims to hate labels but is constantly searching for one that would fit him, in terms of gender.) Writing about Chance was extremely freeing for me. And like I said, it was fun. I brainstormed creative use of language with my college-age daughter and we had a lot of laughs as I chose Chance’s unique style of verbal expression. I spent a lot of time on Urban Dictionary finding hip ways of saying everyday things.
Not Broken, Just Bent, on the other hand, and many of my other YA books, are, as you mentioned in the question, weighty in theme and plot. But althoughLove Spell’s plot is humorous and outwardly light-hearted, it contains a heavy theme, as well. Chance is dealing with gender confusion, and though he is an extremely upbeat sort of person, it drags him down. The difference between Chance and many of my other YA characters is how he deals with conflict—by spitting at it rather than avoiding it.
I do feel differently when I write humor than when I write drama. Humor fills my heart with a sense of joy—cheesy, but true. Drama fills my mind with anticipation, because I write with a constant sense of waiting for the moment when the paths of the two young lovers finally cross, and then for the moment when they meld together. Both are satisfying to me, but in completely different ways.
Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog today! I hope everybody checks out Love Spell—a romantic comedy with an inner lining of poignancy!
Blurb: Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.
As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”
But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.
An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.
Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.
About the Author: Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.
Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.