GUEST POST WITH JOY PREBLE
One of the things I’ve most appreciated from the various review of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and now THE A-WORD is not only the appreciation of Jenna’s sassy voice but also the acknowledgment that although there angels and mystery and romance and blackmail and poisoning, at the core, I have written a sibling story. And while sibling stories abound in MG lit, there are fewer of them in YA. And the truth is, everyone loves a sibling story! As Harper Collins editor Jocelyn Davies observed at a recent conference I attended, one of the reasons Frozen resonates with everyone (besides that we all love bellowing Let It Go!), is that it too, is a sibling story. And to quote Davies, “No relationship is as rich and emotionally complex as a sibling relationship.”
For me, the fact that underneath, they really love each other, is one of the most appealing aspects of writing Jenna and Casey. No matter how rough things get or how obnoxious they may act, these two have each other’s backs. Often I don’t show this too overtly.
For example in THE A-WORD, Casey has bought Jenna a make up kit for her birthday. And trust me, angel or not, this boy does not know jack about make up. But he’s made the effort and Jenna knows it. All well and good. But I knew I could use this to express something deeper. So rather than have her tell him that she loves him for doing this, I wrote this, the first voice being Jenna:
I hugged him hard. “I love it,” I said.”
“Me, too,” he whispered.
And so the moment gets a bit of nuance. We all know what they’re really saying, which is not just about the gift. But it wouldn’t work for Casey to say “I love you,” right out, even though he obviously does. They speak instead through the gift.
Of course, these two really do have only each other. The Samuels family is pretty darn dysfunctional and in the end, it’s Jenna and Casey (whether alive or dead or somewhere in between) who must team up to figure out the overarching mystery and figure out how to hang in there despite mounting circumstances. Plus I love that they ‘get’ each other, even if they won’t admit it. Two big-mouthed kids using sass and wit to overcome a lot of bad stuff.
With Jenna and Casey, like with a lot of siblings, it’s often not what they say, but how they say it.
Joy Preble is the author of the popular and highly acclaimed Dreaming Anastasiaseries as well as The Sweet Dead Life, the prequel to The A-Word. A former English teacher, Joy grew up in Chicago and is a graduate of Northwestern University. Sheis now a full-time writer and lives with her family in Texas, where she has learned to say "y'all" without any hint of irony. |Website|Tumblr|Twitter|Facebook|