When I visit schools, I’m often asked, “How long does it take to write a book?” My answer: A lifetime.
And that is literally true of my new action-adventure series for teens – Chasing Danger.
I wrote my first story when I was eight years old. It wasn’t an assignment. A story popped into my brain and begged to be written. The story was titled “A Dream I Wish Was True” and was about how eight-year-old me got to meet my favourite movie star. I dedicated it to that actress – the late, great Farrah Fawett Majors.
As you might have guessed I was a super fan of the TV show Charlie’s Angels. It had smart, strong, feisty – and yeah, gorgeous – women at the heart of the action. I’ve always wanted to write a story that would give middle grade readers the same experience I had when I watched Jill, Kris, Kelly and Sabrina in the 1970s – and I think I’ve accomplished it with Chasing Danger.
This new series combines smart, strong, feisty girl heroes with exotic locations and lots of action and adventure.
About Chasing Danger
“I couldn’t shake the feeling that this vacation might actually kill me.”
When fourteen-year-old Chase Armstrong is sent to visit her grandmother at a remote tropical resort, she’s looking forward to sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. The last thing she expects is danger. But she’s in for some surprises. She discovers another girl hiding out on the island and uncovers a devastating secret about the mum she’s never known. When modern-day pirates attack the island, it’s up to Chase to outrun, out-think and outfight the pirates . . . before it’s too late!
For me, writing a book is like piecing together a puzzle. I know how I want the final project to ‘look’, but finding the right characters, plot and setting takes patience, persistence and imagination. Over the years, I’ve experimented with many mysteries, thrillers and action plots. It never really fell into place until now.
When I speak to wannabe writers – whether they ten or sixty years old – I always encourage them to make their writing personal. Why are you writing this story and why are you the only person who can write it? When searching for an idea, I ask writers:
O What are two or three of your favourite books, movies or TV programmes?
O What genre of story do you prefer?
O What are your hobbies or talents (or what do you wish they were)?
O Where is your favourite place or the place you’d most like to visit?
O What issues or topics are you passionate about?
I ask them to mine their answers to these questions for a story idea. For example, if the response to the first question is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. How can you combine what you love about these stories to spark an idea? If you are writing for children/teens, you might want to respond to these questions as if you were the age of your reader.
If you are testing an idea or wondering what to write next, I always recall this quote from Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman from The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters:
“The trick is to be connected to the material of your imagination, thematically and concretely, write what interests you because if you’re not fascinated and excited by the writing of the script, the reader won’t be fascinated and excited by the reading of it. Try to find something in the idea that speaks to your own life, something you think is authentic, true, compelling in your story.”
I’m having a blast writing Chasing Danger. I hope that my passion and enjoyment is somehow infused into each page. And if you're a writer, I wish you the same experience
Sara Grant has worked on both sides of the editorial desk. She has inspired and edited nearly 100 books for children. Last week Chasing Danger – her new action-adventure series for tweens – was published by Scholastic. Her two YA novels – Dark Parties (SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner, Europe) and Half Lives – are futuristic thrillers. She also writes a funny magical series for young readers – Magic Trix. She leads writing workshops in the US, UK and Europe as part of Book Bound and lectures at Goldsmiths. Website: www.sara-grant.com Twitter: @authorsaragrant