Friday, February 10, 2012

My Answer to: "In EVERNEATH, why did you decide to to THIS??!!"

I have to get something off my chest. 

So I've been getting a lot of emails lately from readers who connected with EVERNEATH, and by far this is the best part of being an author so far. 

Some of these readers have questions about the story. The questions are about everything and anything, but they usually start out with, "Why did you decide to do --------- and not ----------?"

It's a difficult thing to answer, because the answer is usually the same, and therefore, it's kind of boring. But here it is:

"Because I felt the story called for it."

I can tell by reading some of the emails that some readers think there is a deeper agenda going on. A "deeper agenda" like:

It's a YA book, and I, as the author, think that YA books need to have certain standards, and so that's why I made the decision. 


Because, as the author, I have a deeper responsibility to spread a message to teenagers about x, y, or z. 


As the author, my own personal beliefs are x, y, and z, and therefore my characters' beliefs are the same

But I'm telling you if I tried to write a book based on any of these "deeper agendas", I would fail miserably, for several reasons.

1. It would feel more like work and less like a passion
2. I would never presume to set myself up as the voice of morality for teenagers
3. It would be a really boring book

This doesn't mean that when I write, I can shut off all the aspects of my life that make me me. First, that's impossible, and second, that would be a boring book as well. But it does mean that when I'm facing a turning point in the book, the question in my mind is:

"What would the character do?"


"What do I want the reader to learn?"

That way, any themes that do emerge come organically from the story, and not from a "to-do checklist" I made up before I wrote the book. Does this make sense? I'd love your thoughts too.

I'm off to LTUE for the day. Hope to see some of you there! If not, have a great weekend!!


  1. My thought on the matter is that you can probably thank Stephannie Myers for this. She did have an agenda when writing her book after all and a well known agenda at that Maybe now readers think all authors have one?

    Or maybe I'm just a touch cynical...

  2. I think it's English Class syndrome. All kids were taught to dissect a book and look for intent while in highschool. While this can be a useful skill sometimes the students aren't taught to enjoy a book or that a story can exist just for the story's sake.

    If authors push agendas rather than listening to the characters it can come off as flat and insipid. Glad you listened to the story.

  3. Why did you not decide to name one of the characters after me? Why was I not on the cover? No, I am not bitter.

    1. I'm usually really good at reading people, and though it takes someone really sensitive to pick up the vibes, I can tell Sam is bitter.

  4. I think this is such a great insight into a fiction writer's world. Been meaning to post a comment and tell you how much I LOVED loved loved your power point at the launch party. You had me in stitches. I wish Doug could have come. And I wanted to stay so you could sign me book, but I had to get home to relieve my babysitters. Anyhow, I have a list of people wanting to borrow my copy. I keep telling them to buy their own! Have a good time at the Conference. And will you sign my book one day while you're cruising by? ;)

  5. Oh me oh my. So many aspects to being an author. Have a great time at LTUE.

  6. My answer, were I ever to actually publish and therefore have people actually reading my stuff, would be: because my characters made me do it.

    I have no control over them at all, I tell you.

  7. Interesting. And probably whatever your answer, someone's going to think it's the wrong one.

  8. I can't imagine what people would want to change about it. I love it. Infact, I've got most of the people I work with reading it. And everyone I can tell about it on Facebook. I loved it. Like alot. I get all excited talking with people about it. One friend read it, and she said its one of her top faves. And she reads. Alot (me, not so much). Confirmed, I'm not just biased. =) But I'm glad you didn't add certain things and showed that a good book doesn't have to have X, Y, Z to make it worth reading.