The Story Behind the Story Part 2
Part Two - How Does a Mathematician Write a YA Fiction Novel?
So during the long process of our adoption homestudy, my husband bought me my first smartphone. Don't get me wrong, I was totally excited! I've just never been much of a game person, so other than checking my email, what else would I do with it? I always loved reading, so I soon downloaded kindle. But then I discovered the writing app. Hmm . . . what would I possibly do with that? I was a math major in college, eventually earning a Master's of Science in Applied Mathematics. Sounds great and impressive, but it also says something else . . . egghead! Now eggheads may be useful members of society, but there is definitely one avenue that they simply don't qualify for . . . anything artistic or emotional. They're supposed to be the ones behind a computer working algorithms with clutter and pictures of Einstein scattered all about, right?
Well I've always been one to challenge the norm, especially when it comes to categorizing people based on work, background, education, or special skill sets. After all, though I most certainly can't draw, I have always loved singing and had recently taught myself to play the guitar. That's artistic, right? Not to mention my imagination . . . almost borderline of what one might view as a lack of sanity. As a child, my brother and I had developed quite the elaborate pretend world. It went far beyond building spaceships or playhouses. We're talking a whole imaginary world that set us ten years older than we actually were, with jobs, homes, families, cars, etc. I could probably write a whole book just about our pretend world. It was simply that elaborate. Surely I could use my imagination once again as an adult! It was worth a shot anyway.
With that, an image of a frightened, seventeen-year-old girl jumping out her bedroom window to escape her abusive home came to mind. I didn't know her name or where she was planning to go, but that didn't matter. Knowing nothing prior about the elements of developing a story or a "how to" process of writing a book, I did what made the most sense. I simply started writing it. And yes, on my smartphone, of course! I figured, the only difference in reading or writing a story was I got to decide how it would finish. If I were to pre-plot it, then the whole story would be mechanical with no heart. After all, I would never pick up a book and read it if I already knew precisely what would happen page by page. In the same way, I felt my readers would sense a lack of spontaneity if I were to write it from a script. Essentially, I developed it on the fly.Theme plot, the characters, the setting, and every other detail came about as the story unfolded from my two little thumbs frantically typing.
My first thought was, where would this terrified, teenage girl escape to? Obviously she had to have some plan, or at least needed to come up with something after she made her dramatic escape. It would have to be somewhere that she was sure to never be found. But the only realistic place she could never be found would also be a place she couldn't leave. That's when ideas began running wild, and soon The New Waiver Program was born.
Everything else began falling into place as I moved forward in the story. I had just visited New Mexico a year before, so the vast, dessert terrain was the perfect setting for my story. I loved the untouched landscape that stretched for miles on end. It was the perfect undisclosed location for a secret facility.
Character development was a different story, though I handled it in a similar manner. Each one came about in his or her own unique way. Check back soon for Part Three of The Story Behind the Story - Character Creation