WRITING THE YOUNG ADULT THRILLER
(Confessions of a Pathological Liar)
|Jennifer Garner filmed a recruitment video for the CIA
by Sonja Stone
Currently, I’m the only Rogue Woman writing young adult fiction, which makes me feel a bit like the little sister. I think it’s fitting; if you’ve read our bios, you might agree. Our group boasts ex-CIA, ex-NSA, several lawyers and journalists, NYT best-selling authors, an ex-anchorwoman and highest ranking woman in The White House, and me: a former pastry chef (but, oh! the things I can do with sugar).
Why I Write:
I don’t play well with others. Engaging in social niceties exhausts me. I discovered that when I’m alone with my computer, people assume I’m doing something important and they leave me alone. Some writers have no choice but to write: inside brews a story that demands to see the light of day. My motives aren’t nearly as noble.
I became a writer because I’m an introvert.
(The hilarious irony of introvert-turned-writer is that writing is but a small part of being an author. The rest of it—talks, signings, shameless self-promotion—requires me to act like an extrovert. So if you ever attend one of my events and I look absolutely stricken to meet you, please please know this: It’s not you, it’s me.)
This isn’t to say that I don’t like people—I do. Very much. I just don’t like being with other people. If you’re an introvert, you know where I’m coming from. If you’re an extrovert, let me illustrate a conversation from an introvert’s perspective.
Conversation Between Two Introverts:
Introvert 1: Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you! I miss you! We should get together for coffee or lunch or something!
Introvert 2: That sounds fantastic! I would love to! Let’s do it!
The Aftermath: The two friends part ways feeling very socially connected. Neither has any intention of making an effort to follow through on the plan, but both feel warmly toward themselves and the other.
Conversation Between an Introvert and an Extrovert:
Extrovert: Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you! I miss you! We should get together for coffee or lunch or something!
Introvert: That sounds fantastic! I would love to! Let’s do it!
Extrovert: Great! What about tonight?
Introvert: (starts to panic) Wha–tonight? Oh, I can’t tonight. I uh…
Extrovert: Tomorrow then! Dinner and a movie.
Introvert: (curses herself for not hiding when she saw her friend) Tomorrow. I actually have a thing tomorrow.
Extrovert: All day?
Introvert: Yup, all day.
Extrovert: Saturday. I’ll meet you at noon. Put it on your calendar.
The Aftermath: Extrovert looks forward to lunch with friend, introvert spends the next three days pissed off that she’s been pressured into a social engagement. Countless excuses are workshopped. If lucky, a major disaster—preferably an act of God so the introvert will in no way be linked to the disaster—will occur and the roads will be closed/phone lines down. Texting is okay, so hopefully that service will still be available. That way she can communicate without actually speaking. And on her own time.
Why I Write Young Adult:
I write for teenagers because I think like a teenager. I have SLIGHTLY better impulse control, but that’s only because I’ve been working on it for a few decades. I have the attention span of a gnat. When my kids offer the excuse, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” I understand. And I have the tattoo to prove it.
I like cooking up lies and letting my characters suffer the consequences, spending days at my desk formulating (what I’m sure is) witty banter. And I almost always think I’m funny.
Why I Write Young Adult Thrillers:
For the most part, I prefer action to conversation. I’m not always easy to get along with (no surprise there, right?), but if we do manage to forge a friendship, here’s something you should know about me:
I’m a bury-the-body kind of friend.
You call me up, tell me you’ve got a situation, I’m not gonna ask a lot of questions. I’m searching the GPS for a remote patch of land and throwing my work gloves in the back of the SUV.
So despite my apparent inability to engage in normal human interactions, I’m great for those times when you need help with the heavy lifting. I won’t ever spill your secrets (that would involve talking to someone). Eventually, however, I will want to hear about WHY we just buried your ex in the desert. I love exploring behavioral motivations: altruistic, nefarious, benign; it’s all fascinating.
Which is why I love the thriller genre.
How do you land on the introvert/extrovert scale? Have you ever found yourself thrust into the world despite your best efforts to remain delightfully isolated? Or are you one of those people–the kind who come alive in a crowd (and what’s that like?)?
Best Friend photo credit: http://themetapicture.com/difference-between-friends-and-best-friends/