Today, I’m rerunning a blog that recently appeared at Barnes and Noble’s YA bookclub forum. Hope you enjoy!
In Born at Midnight, Book One of my new YA paranormal series Shadow Falls from St. Martin’s Griffin, sixteen-year-old Kylie Galen feels invisible. What’s worse, she feels surrounded by people who seem to know exactly who they are, what they want to do with their lives, and what they want to become. I chose Kylie’s character traits because in so many ways, I was Kylie.
I was raised in a small town in Alabama. I was the quiet one, the one who never got into trouble, or really got into anything at all. I was the middle child between two brothers—brothers who didn’t suffer from any sort of identity crisis. My older brother was into music. He had a band. (And he had some cute friends come over and practice in our garage, too. You can imagine how many hours my thingless self sat in that garage and watched them practice.) My younger brother was into sports. He played football and any other team sport he could sign up for.
Me . . . well, I didn’t have a thing. Unless you considered being what my parents called “a thinker,” as a thing. Perhaps if curiosity was listed on the “thing” list, people would have said, C.C.’s thing is being curious. And I was inquisitive. At night, I would sit on the porch steps and stare at the car lights on a nearby highway as they rushed past, twinkling and finally disappearing from view. I’d wonder who was the person in the car that faded into the night. I’d guess where he/she were going. And if the story I imagined, if this stranger and their destination was interesting, I’d continue to think about them. I’d tuck this imaginary person away in my head, and create stories of their lives. Amazingly, in my mind, there were a lot of cute guys riding in those cars, and some of them looked like my brother’s band members. Looking back, I realize I was creating characters and storytelling.
Not that I suspected I would grow up and become a writer or even considered it my thing. Being dyslexic, I barely passed in school, totally sucked at spelling, and was considered a slow reader. I never dreamed of pursuing writing as my career.
Like Kylie, I didn’t know who I was, or what I was going to be. Unlike Kylie, I wasn’t sent to a camp for supernaturals where I’d learn I wasn’t human. Kylie actually started figuring out things much earlier than I did. I was twenty-three when my new husband asked me. “What are you going to do with your life?”
He wanted me to go to college, maybe get a teaching degree. Was he joking? School was hard, why suffer through that again? So I confessed something to him that I’d hardly ever confessed to myself. “I want to be a writer.”
One problem, I had to learn to write—had to learn to put the crazy things happening in my head down on paper. I had to relearn those boring grammar rules and especially how to spell. And if I wanted to write stories, I’d have to start reading stories. There were so many things standing between me and my newly discovered “thing.” It didn’t happen overnight. It took ten years, before I sold my first book.
I’m not writing this blog to tell you how I became a writer, I’m writing it because I think there might be several of you out there who are like Kylie and me. Feeling…”thingless” and still unsure what you want to do with yourself.
Well, I’m here to tell you, that it’s okay to not have all the answers. Don’t panic. But if you look deep within, you might see clues. If you start noticing what makes you tick, even when no one knows you’re ticking–like me, creating characters by watching strangers drive past my house–you might discover your thing a lot sooner than I did.
Chances are “your thing” will suddenly become clear. It may be something that, after you figure it out, you then have to work on it—like me and writing. Let’s hope that it’s not nearly as devastating as Kylie’s discovery, because learning you’re not human , and being sent to a camp with vampires, witches, shapeshifters, werewolves and faes is a big thing to have to accept. Good luck on finding your thing. And I hope you enjoy Kylie’s journey of self-discovery, romance and friendship.