WRITING STORIES ABOUT LIFE
Do your friends, relatives, and readers always ask where you came up with the idea for your story? Do you sometimes wonder yourself, when your mind is blank, what you can write about next? As writers, we know that story ideas are all around us. All we have to do is look at our families and friends, our pets and our children’s school activities, along with sports events, music recitals, magazines and newspapers, and sometimes our own dreams, to name a few places where ideas lurk. Today, I’m talking about my YA contemporary novel Life on Hold and why I decided to write Myra’s story. Myra is a fictional character, as are the members of her family and her friends. The novel, however, is loosely based on an article I read in the local newspaper.
A boy and girl in high school had a baby. This alone isn’t so unusual. It happens all the time. The parents of the girl made her give the baby away for adoption and the young couple each went their own way, eventually marrying others. Again, we hear about this happening all the time. Eighteen years later, a chance conversation overheard by a friend of the girl, now an adult, about a boy they knew that had been adopted and who wanted to find his natural parents, led to the boy’s natural parents, both single again, finding each other, as well as the son they’d given up.
Now, I love stories with happy endings, and as far as I know this couple, their son, and the children by their marriages are together, a family. What a beautiful story they have to tell. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope it will. Family is so important for a child. A mother, a father, people they love and trust will help them grow to adults with values and compassion for others.
In Life on Hold, Myra Gibson’s comfortable life takes a drastic turn when she discovers that her parents have lied to her for sixteen years. Unable to trust her mother and father any longer, she decides, with the help of her friends, to learn the truth about her biological father. Along the way to discovering why he never tried to contact her, Myra makes some amazing discoveries not only about her parents but about herself, as well.
For my novel, I took the basics of a true-life story, added twists to it to add more tension to the plot, and wrote a story that I hope will help other children and teens who might be living in a similar situation find a solution to his/her problems. One of my goals when I write for young people is to give them a story that they can relate to, either in their own lives or perhaps those of a friend. When they see they’re not alone, that others their age have similar troubles, yet solve them, even in the pages of a book, whether in the way that they want to or not, they can be encouraged that they too can deal with whatever they may face. Knowing that my story has made even one child a little stronger, a little more able to cope with their place in the world is my reward. So the next time someone asks you where you get your ideas for your novel, tell them “from life.”
I’m happy to announce that Life on Hold has won the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval, and they’ve forwarded my book to their Awards Department.