Author Norma Huss is visiting to share her revision story about her new YA novel, Cherish. She took a manuscript decades old and overhauled it to make it more updated and relevant for today's teens.
From Norma Huss:
Sandy Bottom Road. Yeah, that was the name. A mystery, with teenagers who discovered a skeleton, then uncovered the story about a teen that died in the 1930s. The teen was Cherish, who ached for a car of her own. She had doting parents -- a mother who baked cookies and a father who was the mayor of a town named for his ancestors. The present-day teens were Kara and Tammy, with boyfriends David and Russ. And that story (although one publisher showed a bit of interest for a while) gathered moss in a bottom drawer. My own teens grew into their twenties and beyond. And their children came along, and also grew, while I switched my writing from stories with my children as my audience to stories that I wanted to read: mysteries for adults.
Until I realized by teenage grandchildren might like one of Grandma's stories.
That idea last until I started reading one of my near-successes that had sentences like: "David might call after she left the house, and she'd miss it." Oh, really?
One thing I absolutely could not do -- take out that pile of paper, key it into my computer, and just edit it here and there to update it a bit. This manuscript required much more than a rewrite. In fact, by the time I was finished, there was little left of the original story.
No skeleton dug out of the ground. Nobody named Kara, Tammy, or David. Nothing from 1930.
There were oodles of dropped ideas: a tea party of elderly women, a fire in an abandoned building, a demonstration in city hall.
Other events were added: the Homecoming football game and Queen contest, a class trip to the cemetery by the Local History class, the sophomore Halloween party.
Names were changed to eliminate the outdated trends. Kara became Kayla. Tammy became Dani. And, to eliminate two main characters starting with the same letter, David became Michael. I even switched boyfriends on my unsuspecting characters. Dani got the dreamboat Michael, while Kayla got the senior Russ. The 1930s changed to1946 because I wanted living characters from that age. All of the original story took place in the present time. The new story takes place in both the presents and 1946.
The most major change of all was adding the ghost and reason for her appearance. Her body was not discovered under the ornate gravestone. She needed that body.
Or, A body.
Which is why Kayla ends up living someone else's life in 1946 and knowing that she's about to die. That is also why Cherish is living as a 21st century teen and ruining Kayla's life.
Norma Huss calls herself "The Grandma Moses of Mystery". Her mysteries for adults take place near Chesapeake Bay where she and her husband sailed for years. To complete the generational stretch, besides her new YA mystery, she also has a non-fiction title, A Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska. This was taken from her father's memory of a 19-year-old teen trying to earn money for college.
Cherish is available in print and ebook from Amazon.
Norma is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads through October 7th, 2014.
Follow Norma Huss at:
Amazon Author Page
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.