For those that don't know yet (gasp!), can you tell us what Shade is about?
Okay, here’s my amateur short version (not the extended magical marketing remix):
16-year-old Aura can see ghosts. Then again, so can everyone around the world who was born after her. In fact, they have a word for the moment of her birth: the Shift. Aura suspects that the Shift might be connected to her missing mystery dad and an event that happened at Newgrange tomb in Ireland a year before her birth.
Ghosts can be annoying at their best. At their worst, as dark, powerful "shades," they can be deadly. So Aura's major goal in life is to undo the Shift and make the ghosts go away.
And then, her boyfriend dies and becomes a ghost.
You have written many amazing adult fiction books with Shade being your first foray into YA. Was Shade started as YA or did it evolve that way?
It originally started as an idea for a world where the existence of ghosts had been proven, and a law firm that specialized in wrongful death suits. As tickled as I was by my cheesy tagline, “I sue dead people,” the idea went nowhere without a main character or a compelling story to give it life. (Besides, I know zilch about law, so it wouldn’t have gotten far. It wasn’t until the main character of 16-year-old Aura Salvatore came into the picture that the story took off. I thought hey, what if all people her age and younger could see ghosts? And then the biggest part of the story of all: what if her boyfriend died and become a ghost?
SHADE wasn’t my first attempt at writing YA, though. I wrote another YA (about the daughters of fallen angels Lucifer and Beelzebub as high school seniors) in between my other books, in bits and pieces from 2003 to 2006. But when it came time to revise it for submission in 2008, I realized it pretty much sucked (well, the first half of it, anyway). By that point, I already had the idea for SHADE and was really excited about it, so I decided to do that instead. Sometimes you just have to know when to drop a project and move on.
Having written for both adult & YA audiences, what was the hardest/easiest about writing YA?
In some ways, writing YA is easier. I get to focus on the elements of storytelling I enjoy most and that I think I’m best at: character development and voice, especially dialogue. Writing for teens usually requires a faster pace, and I’m all for that. Whether I’m writing for adults or teens, I believe in following Elmore Leonard’s #1 rule of writing: leave out the boring parts.
The hardest part of writing YA for me is cutting down on the plot digressions. Especially with a book like SHADE where the whole society has changed because of ghosts, it’s so tempting to geek out and explore all the different world-building aspects. My editor does a great job of telling me when I’m losing focus from the main characters and their conflicts. Also when I’m getting too James Bond-ish.
In Shade, the colors purple & red are significant, why were these colours chosen?
The color concept is based on the visible light spectrum—though I don't specifically mention it in the book—where violet and red lie at opposite ends. Red corresponds with the first “chakra” (or energy center, in traditional Indian medicine), located at the base of the spine, where it represents life and the physical world. Violet is associated with the seventh chakra, at the top of the head, representing pure thought. Though I’d chosen obsidian because of its use by ghost hunters, I later discovered that the rock corresponds to the color red and the first chakra. Score one happy world-building accident!
How many books are planned for this series?
There will be at least two (SHIFT is coming out next May). I hope there’ll be three or four ultimately, but of course that depends on my publisher wanting more, which of course depends on readers supporting the series. This doesn’t just apply to my books—if you love an author, buy their books and tell all your friends! Otherwise the publishers won’t know how loved they are, and next thing you know, no more books. :-(
Can you give us a sneak peak at what to expect in book #2, Shift?
SHIFT picks up right after SHADE finishes, and you won’t believe how Chapter One ends! Aura faces a whole new unimaginable dilemma in her choice between Logan and Zachary. As Zachary puts it, “We need to redefine the word ‘impossible.’”
But Aura does find out all about her mom and dad and the mystery of the Shift. The question is, what does she do with that information? And that leads us into a possible third and fourth book.
Ahhh, as if I wasn't already dying to read Shift!
Thanks so much for having me on your blogs! I love to hear from readers, so come visit me at www.jerismithready.com, or better yet on twitter @jsmithready or http://www.facebook.com/jerismithready, where I spend way too much time.
And thanks for writing amazing books & sharing them with us!
I hope you have enjoyed the week so far. Today is the last day to enter the contest for a SIGNED copy of Shade courtesy of Jeri! (Click here to enter)
Now for the fun interactive part...Jeri will be checking in with us today so if you have any questions for her, just type it up in a comment below!
Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him? on 13 May 2010.
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Quote of the momentDying should have been the worst moment in my life. I mean, hello, getting run over by a school bus full of band geeks while wearing the regulation gym uniform of red polyester short shorts and a practically see-through white T-shirt? It doesn’t get more tragic than that.
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