A Writer’s Process (11a)

Remember your days as a freshman in high school or college? There you were at a new school, trying to make a good impression. Graduate school was no different for me. I felt like a “freshman,” starting my program. Thankfully, a great group of people started and finished with me. Laurie Morrison is one of them. Laurie is a fellow blogger and an author of young adult fiction. She’s here today and tomorrow to talk about her young adult novel, Rebound, and young adult fiction in general. Woot!


El Space: Welcome, Laurie. As per my custom, I must ask you to reveal four quick facts about yourself.
dv512008Laurie: I teach middle school English. Although I’ve always loved to read fiction, I didn’t attempt to write it until after my first year of working with middle schoolers. I’ve lived in eight different apartments since I graduated from college ten years ago, but I don’t want to leave the current place anytime soon—just ask my fiancé, who knows to avoid saying the word moving. I get freaked out standing too close to the edge of a balcony but was okay going into a shark cage last summer.

El Space: I would have freaked out about the shark cage. Anyway, moving on, please provide a synopsis of Rebound.
brownie9Laurie: Sixteen-year-old Lissy loves baking and hates taking chances . . . until she finds out that her boyfriend was getting back together with his ex while she was home making his favorite brownies.

Humiliated, she takes off to spend the summer at the beach with her estranged, entrepreneurial dad and his replacement family. She reinvents herself as New Lissy—a strong girl whose heart nobody will ever break again—and scores a job as a pastry chef at a struggling restaurant.

The grumbling head chef doesn’t think she can handle the job, and neither does her dad. She’s not sure what to make of Jonah, the moody boy whose grandmother owns the restaurant, and she has no desire to bond with her perky, home-wrecking stepmom or her swimming-star stepsister. But no matter. If she can block them all out and save the restaurant with her dessert specials and advertising plans, she’ll prove that she’s no longer just a people-pleasing pushover.

But when Lissy finds out what it feels like to put herself before others and what her dad is willing to do to get ahead, she begins to wonder: are there different ways of being strong? Does she have to ditch her nurturing nature to become an empowered woman?

El Space: I love a moody boy story, especially one with dessert. Sweet! What inspired you to write Rebound?
301022Laurie: I started Rebound because I was stuck on the novel I’d been working on during my first two semesters at VCFA. There was a lot that I liked about that old novel, but it didn’t have a strong enough plot. And as I tried to make the plot stronger, I was losing my hold on the parts of the story I liked the most.

Just when I was feeling especially discouraged, I read this wonderful guest post on Cynsations by E. Lockhart. In it, E. Lockhart explains that her Ruby Oliver books, which I adore, came out of a “deep leftover sadness” about the end of her first love. She writes, “The ache in my chest told me there was enough there that I could make up all kinds of goofy characters and plot details, but the center of the story would be true.”

516182I decided to pay attention to an ache in my own heart and start a new project that would explore that feeling. I figured that if the “center of the story” was true, then I wouldn’t lose my hold on it as I drafted and revised. This was a little over two years ago, and I was soon going to turn 30 and move from New York to Philadelphia. I very much wanted to be in a relationship, but my last few relationship attempts had not gone well. I felt embarrassed about those last few relationship attempts, because I wanted something to work so much that I had tried to ignore things I shouldn’t have ignored and had put too much time and effort into things that just weren’t right. I worried that I wasn’t behaving like a strong, together woman. I decided I wanted to start with that feeling of deep embarrassment after a romantic relationship went wrong, and that’s where Rebound began.

El Space: And I must say that opening scene in Rebound packs an emotional punch. What character did you find easiest to develop? Hardest?
Laurie: The easiest character for me to write was Lissy’s eleven-year-old stepsister, Annabelle. As soon as Annabelle popped into my mind, I could picture her vividly, and I could see her through two different lenses: I saw her as Lissy would see her and from my own, more objective perspective. I knew that Lissy would be jealous of Annabelle and think she was just the daughter her dad always wanted. She wouldn’t notice Annabelle’s insecurities and wouldn’t realize that Annabelle might actually look up to her.

Lissy’s dad, on the other hand, was much trickier. Initially, I thought he would want to have a real relationship with Lissy but bumble along in trying to get closer to her. But in my first full draft, the second half of the novel was lacking tension, so I worked to make him more of an antagonist instead. It took awhile for me to figure out how to make him a nuanced, realistic antagonist.

Sorry. Gotta stop here. Tune in tomorrow when Laurie tells us more about nuanced, realistic antagonists. In the meantime, feel free to ask Laurie questions about her book or process. I assure you, she won’t bite. 🙂 While you’re at it, tell us your favorite dessert. (I have two: apple pie and brownies.)

Book covers from Goodreads. Brownies photo from thewifeofadairyman.blogspot.com. Shark cage from duckduckgrayduck.com.

32 thoughts on “A Writer’s Process (11a)

  1. Nice interview and I am awed by the depth of thought involved in Laurie Morrison’s writing process. I put so much into my own writing, but I haven’t written anything longer than a chapter book…yet.

    • Ha, thanks, Andy! The sharks near me were blue sharks, and they weren’t quite as terrifying looking as the one in that photo! By the time I went into the cage, the sharks had been near our boat for a few hours, and I had started to understand that they were interested in the dead fish that the captain was offering them but not very interested in me 🙂

  2. Great interview! Laurie’s road to writing Rebound has struck a chord with me. I too have been working on a novel that just isn’t working for me. I’m having a difficult time getting excited about it because I’ve had a YA story bubbling in my mind for the past couple of months. I’ve never written YA, but I’ve been devouring them during my free reading time. I’m taking this interview as a sign that maybe I should put my other project aside for a while and work on something I’m excited about. I’ll certainly look forward to Part 2 of this interview. I’m not a big dessert eater, but I love to bake them!

    • Thanks, Jill. I’d say your excitement is a definite sign. It seems that YA novel is determined to be born. Think of the books you’re devouring! I can’t help equating that to cravings a pregnant woman gets.

      Have you been working on your other novel long? Is it hard for you to stop working on it? I get that way, especially if I’ve invested a ton of time. But sometimes, putting down a project for a time can give you a fresh perspective on it, and help you regain your excitement for it.

      • Actually this was my NaNo project from last year. After reaching 55k words by the end of November, I put it aside. Recently I turned my attention to the project in order to bring the story to it’s conclusion and then begin the daunting task of editing/rewriting. Right now I’m in the process of doing a read through so I can figure out where I stopped in the story…it’s been a long time. I had some health issue during the first quarter of 2013. As a result. I had just enough energy to go to work and keep up with my blog. I definitely need to make a decision and move forward. Thanks again for this interview!

      • Congrats on finishing the draft! I’d say go with what energizes you. It might be time to set your old work aside (for a bit) and recharge your batteries with a new project.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jill! I definitely recommend giving your new YA project a shot! Now I’m finally back to work on that older project that wasn’t working before, and that distance was just what I needed. Not to say that it’s going easily exactly, but I’m excited about it again. Plus, I was able to explore some of the dynamics I didn’t want to let go of in that first project as I was writing REBOUND, so now I’m finding it easier to take the other project in a different direction.

  3. Having two teenagers, I can relate to this synopsis of Relapse! It seems to me that Laurie has captured the issues that teens go through to a T! Lot’s of drama! Being a middle school teacher is the perfect way to learn and understand what goes on in a teen’s mind! I love anything chocolate! 🙂

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