Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Post with Kate Avelynn + giveaway!

I can't tell you how excited I am to host Kate and help her spread the word about her FANTASTIC book, FLAWED. There are not enough words to describe my love for this book. Yes, it's dark. Yes, it's a touch taboo. And yes, it's incredible. It'll make you feel ALL THE FEELINGS. And that's exactly what Kate is here to talk about today. Writing about taboo/tough topics and making it likable.

And before the post, I'd like to thank Kate for taking the time to write this post and Heather Ricco for allowing me to be part of the blog tour. Now...KATE!

So glad to be here, Mandie! Thank you for having me on your blog today, and for giving me the opportunity to answer one of the questions I hear most: How do you write about tough, often taboo topics, and make them compelling enough to draw readers? The answer is deceptively simple: Focus on the characters in these tough, taboo situations. Let what motivates them drive the story, and make sure your readers see that motivation.
There’s nothing I like better than deeply-flawed characters and complex villains. I want to get under these characters’ skins, find out what makes them tick, explore what it means when I find that I identify with something inside of them. If I understand what makes them tick—what they believe in, what motivates them, what drives every action they take—I understand them, and maybe even a little more about myself in the process. There’s no greater equalizer than understanding. Even when what the person’s choices are wrong.
So why did I say letting your characters’ motivation drive the story is deceptively simple? Because to be able to write a character with more layers than an onion, you—as the writer—have to be able to put yourself inside that character completely. Feel what they’re feeling, think what they’re thinking—even the really ugly stuff. If you can’t put yourself in that place, chances are your character won’t be there, either. And if the character isn’t there, the reader won’t see what you want them to see.
There’s one scene from FLAWED that I think sums up James’s motivation for everything. He’s about to make a horrible mistake, and having to put myself in his mind for this was ugly, but his reasoning and his desperation to be enough for Sarah is clearer because I did.

James’s fury shifts to despair and he drops to his knees. “God, Sarah, do you hate me so much you had to fuck him in our room?”In the faint moonlight, I can see the misshapen lines of his face. The fight. “I don’t hate you. And I’d never purposely hurt you. I love you.”He shakes his head, his big shoulders trembling. “No, I love you. You’ve never loved me, even though it’s supposed to be me and you, forever.” He reaches for my waist and buries his sticky face in my stomach. “Why can’t I be enough? I want to be enough so fucking bad.”“You are enough!”
“I’ll never be enough and you know it.”This is horrible. More horrible than I imagined. I close my eyes and stroke his crusty hair, very quietly singing our lullaby.
His shoulders stop trembling halfway through the verse and by the end I think he’s humming along with me. I hope so. I scoot farther down on my bed so I can reach him better and because his lumpy face pressed into the bruises on my lower stomach hurts.
“I’m sorry about Leslie,” he mumbles into my shirt, which is bunching up around his face as I wriggle lower. “She doesn’t mean anything to me. Promise.”I couldn’t care less about Leslie and I am about to tell him so, but then he turns his head, moving my thin t-shirt out of the way with his big hands, and I realize how bad an idea it was to scoot lower. He nuzzles into my bare chest instead of coming higher into my arms, breathing me in and pressing his lips to my skin. I gasp and shove at his shoulders. “Damn it!” he roars. My hands fly to my ears because he’s right there in my face, tiny drops of spit flying. “Don’t you understand? Do you understand anything?

Was it tough to write? Yeah. Is it tough to read, even now? For sure. But does my heart break for him because of his honesty and desperate need to be this person for the girl he thinks he loves? Absolutely. I’m a firm believer that anything can be compelling if—and only if—the person who picks up the book can feel for the characters, even the villains. This speaks to a much larger topic of tolerance and compassion for individuals we don’t understand, but that’s a topic for another day!

And now for the prizes! Kate is giving a $15 gift card to either Amazon or B&N—your choice. All you have to do is leave a comment about taboo and tough subjects you’d like to see more of in YA fiction, along with your email address and which gift card you’d prefer. Today’s giveaway is open to International readers.

 Kate is also running an Ultimate FLAWED Fan Pack contest via the Rafflecopter listing below. Enter daily for a chance to win some really cool stuff!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Jena said...

I love reading about taboo subjects like this. They always break my heart yet bring out all the feels. Plus I'm just odd and absolutely love dark and twisted stuff with a passion. And the scene above... yeah I loved that scene!

Thank you both!! :)
- May I be entered for the Amazon card? Thanks!

Vivien said...

I absolutely loved the excerpt!! I need the rest :p But yes, I am a fan of taboo subjects. I'm a walking taboo myself. The cookie cutter person, does not like me.

Pavan said...

I think more books could be written about male abuse (physical, mental, sexual) we see a lot of books on female abuse which is great because we are becoming more aware, but not a lot of male stories.

I adored Flawed and can't wait to see more from Kate!

Could I please be entered for the amazon gift card?


Katelyn said...

This guest post was simply amazing! I am not going to even pretend, I was afraid of these "tougher" books for the longest time. I always seemed to read the happy, sunshiney stories. Don't get me wrong, they were great but that's just not enough sometimes. However, blogging has lead me to so many tough, gritty, personal, heartbreaking stories, and more often than not, those stories are the ones receiving my top ratings and endless amounts of gushing. I've read everything from books about rape and abuse to bullying and drug abuse.

I really like what Pavan said about male abuse. I remember watching a Lifetime movie about it a long time ago and ever since then, I've always wondered why more stories like that haven't been told.

One tough issue I'd really like to see hashed out is the "absent mother". It seems to be touched upon in a lot of books but almost like a side issue, not the main thing. That ruled my life as a child and continues to be a huge factor in my life today.

Also, I think SO MANY people can benefit from reading books about mental illnesses and different disorders & disabilities. I think a book telling a realistic story of someone dealing with say anxiety or a severe case of ADHD, would be amazing.

I would love to be entered for the Barnes & Noble giftcard. Thanks for this amazing guest post and giveaway!


bn100 said...

Nice excerpt. Maybe something about scars


Jessirae said...

I love dark taboo topics, but I certainly want to read/see more of like what Kate wrote! It's heart-breaking, emotionally deep, and devastating. It's the type of topic that has a lot of gray areas I wish were explored more.

*sigh* I loved James, despite everything. He's such a complex character. My whole being ached for him. lovelovelove <3

I seriously <3 this post so much. Thanks so much for sharing!

Jessirae; Email -
Would love the Amazon GC, please and thank you :)

Kate Avelynn said...

Thanks for all the responses, ladies! Pardon me while I feverishly take notes...

Katelyn and Pavan, I'll talk about it on a later tour stop, but I do have a book in the works that deals with male abuse, the same character's anxiety, and parental abandonment. Hopefully I'll be able to do the subject matter justice and give a voice to the kids going through the same thing.

We'll announce today's winner at the end of the blog tour, so stay tuned...

Vivien said...


deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Pavan said...

Oh wow! I can't wait to see your take on the topic!

Rebecca said...

I don't thik there are nearly enough hard hitting, tough subjects matters in YA but I'd be interested to see more disorder stoires. Maybe not anorexia (not that it shouldn't be discussed though!) but maybe something that hasn't been done before and many teens are experiencing or going through.


Elisabeth said...

It would be nice to read more about characters that have a mental illness, like depression or schizophrenia.

vandango33 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

*Blog Contest*

I leaned more towards the romantic relationship gone wrong sort of stories. Or books like Flawed or any Nicholas Sparks book.... Does that make any sense? If not, I apologize.

Diana said...

I love the word “taboo”. The life is not only kissing, happy endings where the only problems a main character has is whether their fancy boy/girl likes them back. There are real problems about teens dealing with mental illness or diseases themselves, as well as in their families, financial insecurity, abuse.
I would really love to see more books with these difficult subjects.

Thank you for the giveaway!
artgiote at gmail dot com

Suzi said...

I think the mental illness thing would be more interesting. We get a little of that with stories about suicide, but not everybody who is depressed kills themselve (obviously). So it'd be nice to see it presented other ways. Along with other mental illnesss too.

I havne't had a chance to check out Flawed, but it's on my list.



Nuzaifa @ Say It With Books said...

Suicide,Abuse,Bullying,Body Image Issues-I think I wouldn't mind reading ANY of these "issues books".

I'd like an Amazon GC.Thanks!


veRONIca said...

I definitely feel more things need to written about because they do happen in the world. Maybe more about depression and suicides or mental illnesses in general

Amazon GC would be amazing thanks!


Kate Avelynn said...

Suzi - CONGRATULATIONS! You are today's winner. Be on the lookout for an email from me regarding how to claim your prize. Thank you for participating in the FLAWED blog tour!

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