Why I write YA
by Jennifer L. Fry
I don't think I'm alone in feeling that my adolescent years were the most difficult time of my life. In fact, the combination of my chaotic family situation and my own inability to be anything but my awkward, know-it-all, foot-in-the-mouth self, led to some lasting scars that have survived into adulthood. The reason I write YA is simple. I hope to help young adults get through this painful right of passage with less permanent damage to their psyche. I want to bring them stories with characters that are real – they make mistakes, they have emotional needs that are deep and difficult to articulate. And I want to show YA readers what happens when they deal with their problems with self-reliance and inner strength.
I know that the painful experiences we have as teenagers teach us, make us stronger, and ultimately help us to become who we are. But the shining moments in my own teen years come from certain adults who supported me and encouraged me to develop character traits that will always win in the end. Traits like integrity, perseverance, and never letting your own personal value be defined by others. While I still, to this day, remember those lessons from great teachers and other adults, I don't think I was exposed to these ideas enough. It's so difficult to drown out the media blitz flashing before teens eyes day in and day out. I make it my goal through my writing to be one of those positive influences that I don't think YA readers can ever get enough of during these impressionable years. And that it is why I write YA.
When fifteen-year-old actress Lucy Carter loses her older sister in a car accident, her mother shuts down and her father can’t hold the family together. Their only choice is to ship Lucy off to the Edmond School for Performing Arts. But boarding school is no cure for Lucy’s grief. With failing grades, wooden stage performances, and curfew violations, Lucy is threatened with expulsion. For the once talented Lucy, it feels as though she has nowhere to turn.
One night, Lucy hears mysterious music drifting through the school’s old heating system. The music leads her to a troubled but passionate songwriter whose brilliance gives her the strength to perform like never before. Yet their intense relationship puts Lucy in a precarious position: if she follows her muse, will she lose herself? And if she breaks it off, can she stand on her own again?
An image of a shattered crystal vase materialized in her mind. It was her mother's favorite thing, an heirloom passed down from her grandmother, usually found prominently displayed in the center of the dinner table filled with freshly cut flowers. The girls weren't supposed to touch it. About a month after Kate's funeral, dead flowers drooped over its edges, the water inside a brownish slime. No one seemed to notice. Lucy returned home from school one afternoon, the house silent per usual. She couldn't stand the sight of the wilted bouquet for another second, so she dropped the flowers in the trash and rinsed the vase in the sink.
Her mother padded into the kitchen just as Lucy dried the vase with a towel. She turned to look at her mother and suddenly the vase slipped from her hands, shattering against the porcelain tile with a sound that echoed through Lucy's very being. She cringed, waiting for her mother's reaction. But there was hardly a flicker of acknowledgment, just a quiet sigh, as her mother turned and left the room. Later that evening, her dad didn't even mention the white gauze wrapped around Lucy's hand where she'd cut herself cleaning up the glass fragments.
They hadn't shown much concern for her when she lived at home those months after the funeral, so she didn't see why they would be worried about her grades now. Somewhere in the back of her mind, in a place she'd nearly hidden from herself, she wanted to cry to her dad about how hard it was being without them. But then anger welled up. Why did they care now, about this?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jennifer L. Fry is a writer, artist, and teacher in Marin County, California, where she lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable dogs, and orange tabby cat. Though she has been writing since she was young, A PART TO PLAY is her first novel.
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