I remember the moment I came up with my favorite book idea. I was sitting in the passenger seat of an Xterra, next to one of the coolest men I know, surfing down the side streets of Las Vegas looking for garage sales. At the corner of an unknown avenue, we were deciding whether to go left or right. I don’t remember which we decided on because there, in front of us (okay, slightly to the left) was a bunch of spray-painted “tag flags”—as I call them.
In myriad colors, words and phrases best not be repeated, as well as a few names of taggers and/or their gangs spelled out in sharp angry slashes, claimed the once colorless wall, and in the background, a beautiful flower with rain-kissed petals. The daisy should’ve looked out of place surrounded by scrawled hate—but it didn’t. The anger only added to the tragic beauty of the flower and I have to say, I felt the idea tingle instantly.
I get the idea tingle a lot whether I’m writing romance of YA, but this time, the tingle came with the recognition of genre. Incoming YA idea!
In the throes of “the tingle”, goose bumps make the tiny hairs on my arms and legs stand up and feel around, like little antennae searching for inspiration, and I pick up entire conversations between materializing characters within seconds.
Emanuella introduced herself to me before the Xterra turned the corner, and just as quickly she told me she wasn’t sure she likes her name, but that her mother gave it to her. Oh…and she has a secret. She’s all heart-happy for her brother’s most hated enemy and fears that one day she’ll fail at keeping the two gangs from killing each other.
When a graffiti artist wants you dead…you’re tagged, she said to me.
The book was born.
I’m happy to say, a few years after I wrote the last sentence in Tagged—two agents, 40 rejections, and many bats to the ego later—my editor Bryl at Noble Young Adult loved the story and I received a contract offer. Phew!
Only…after I opened the gate to one Young Adult book, I was attacked by book after book, writing the ideas down faster than I could possibly write the novels. And sometimes, while working on one project, another gives me a hip-check and others still visit me in the shower! I’m just trying to shave my legs here…ARGH!
At times like these, I start fantasizing about being part borg. I’d hook my brain up to a computer, letting it just suck the ideas out and spew the book out in an hour so I could get in a nap or have a thought that doesn’t have anything to do with a character or setting or plot.
And why…for the love of all that’s holy…can’t I go to Walmart without assigning the personality quirks I see in the diverse shoppers there to characters in my books? Is it possible to just buy a mango, Gin?
As far as complaints go, I have to admit, book ideas attacking is a bad one for a writer. Yes, I can get bogged down and turned around trying to work on too much at once, but in truth, I’m grateful the ideas are flowing, and I hope to follow this book, which launched my YA career, with several others. And really, there’s no way to do that without sharing the shower from time to time.
As a thank you for taking the time to read my guest blog, I’d like to give out free e-copies of Tagged to those who comment with which side they think they’d be a part of and why: Parkour/Freerunners (Do a search on YouTube if you’re unsure what Freerunning is!) or Graffiti! My favorite answer/answers win! The winners will be announced on June 11th and my email will be supplied so that winners can keep their emails private.
Oh! I’ve also posted the first chapter up on my blog if you’d like to read a sample. www.gintensity.blogspot.com
Again, thanks for coming to visit my post, and thanks a ton to Lucy and her wonderful staff for having me. It’s a privilege to be part of the Reader’s Fitness Program, as it has introduced me to a bunch of really great authors and readers!
All my best,