Guest Post and Giveaway: Pretty Girl-13 author Liz Coley
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the author of Pretty Girl-13, Liz Coley, to the blog for a guest post on her ideas and inspirations. As I am a huge fan of Pretty Girl-13, I am so excited to share this with you all. I hope my readers enjoy!
By Liz Coley
Years ago, as I was reading one of Orson Scott Card’s books on writing craft, I was deeply impressed by his “two-idea” notion. On his Hatrack website (Hatrack.com), he explains it this way: “What usually works for me is to take two idea-sources and combine them. As with a metaphor, the tension between the two ideas leads to interesting possibilities. It’s a way of drawing surprising answers out of your unconscious mind.”
A single idea is often too thin for a novel. That may be short story territory. Card talks about filing away ideas until something else comes along that resonates and provides a deeper inspiration. Pretty Girl-13 emerged as the intersection of a character, a scientific development, and a title.
Sometimes my manuscripts begin with the shadowy outline of a main character—a boy on his first interstellar flight, a boy with the ability to change the past, an idealistic girl who wants to fight every injustice, a boy so deeply out of place that he thinks “howdy” is an appropriate greeting on the first day of school. Years ago, I learned that one of my acquaintances had undergone therapy for dissociative identity disorder, and the person I knew was a reintegrated personality. I told myself, “Some day, I’ll have to write a book where the protagonist has alter personalities,” but the thought rested unused for many years.
Sometimes my manuscripts begin with a scientific or medical idea. I’ve always loved science fiction, I have a degree in Molecular Biochemistry, and I consider myself a bit of a futurist. I read Discover, Cosmos, and MIT Technology Review for fun. Two articles I’d read jostled together in my head—one about the military health system trying to improve techniques for memory management in service people at risk for PTSD; the other an article on light sensitive gene switches being successfully inserted into living systems to control brain cell to brain cell communication. I asked, what if you could switch off terrible memories? Would it be a good idea? How soon will we be able to do that?
Finally, I enjoy titling my work even before I begin. In the case of Pretty Girl-13, the cornerstone of the creative process was the title. Out of the blue, I imagined a book cover with the title PG-13. “What would that stand for?” I asked myself. “Pretty Girl-13,” I answered. “That sounds like the name of an alter personality,” I commented. And then the ideas banged together, and I knew that I had the core of the story, a girl with multiple personalities who faced their own extinction through this developing technology and needed to tell their stories. But did she want to hear them? And where had they come from? What were their stories? The questions piled on.
That’s where it all started. With the book in your hands, you can see where it led.
*Fascinating, Liz. It’s amazing that just imagining a title could turn in to such an incredible story. Thank you for sharing!*
Thanks to HarperTeen I have a copy of Pretty Girl-13 to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, you must be 13 years or older and live in the U.S. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.
About Pretty Girl-13:
What happened to the past three years of her life?
Angie doesn’t know.
But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her “alters.” As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?
Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing – and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.
Liz loves reading aloud.