Gritty YA Fiction

GRITTY AND THE ‘MIKI RADICCI’ SERIES
Guest Post by M.E. Purfield

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Gritty is not always good. Traditionalists, fundamentalist, and Goody-Goodies do not like gritty. I’m not positive why. Maybe it undermines what dead generations taught. You see, gritty is a rebellion. It’s dirty, violent, and transcendent. In storytelling, gritty is the extreme setting and obstacle a main character may go through. And if you follow traditional storytelling where a main character reaches the light of change at the end, gritty can be a great dark tunnel.

Gritty is most commonly associated with the city, drugs, and crime. Before I came up with my Miki Radicci series, I had already written three stand alone Young Adult novels. Two of them took place in the city and all three had an element of crime to the story. So making a gritty series was a no-brainer. But why did I do it?

My background is vanilla. I grew up white suburban middle class. I was forced to do all the things my parents and society expects me to do. I hated most of my childhood. I hated being one with the crowd. Reality was a boring prison. To escape I immersed myself into horror and crime films and fiction. If I was born to be rebellious then writing gritty fiction is hardwired into my soul. I get off on it. I like to push buttons, upset the traditionalists, fundamentalists, and the Goody-Goodies.

Basically, I’m a dick.

Basically, I love my freedom.

The Miki Radicci series is a young adult, urban, noir, fantasy. The grit comes natural, but there’s always a conscious level I try to adhere. Primarily, my anti-hero main character is gritty. You can either love her or hate her. Based on reader reaction, that is exactly what people do. The funny thing is, they love her and hate her for the same reasons.

Miki is sixteen but an emancipated, self-sufficient artist. She doesn’t live under her parents’ roof or control. Miki is also an alcoholic. Her best friend is a former bum boy who now goes to school and lives with Miki. She is also a bit of a criminal herself. She makes fake identifications and is handy with picking locks.

All those traits are conscious and planned to make her gritty. She goes against the traditional teen girl who follows what her parents say and want; who has plans for college; who is dealing with a boyfriend or best friend or whatever.

Another conscious step for grit is her psychic ability. Miki can psychically feel another’s pain or death. Murder and violence is scary. I wanted to go against the norm that violence looks cool. When the reader experiences Miki’s pain or death, they should not enjoy it. The words should jumpstart a dread in their imagination that will upset them.

Her psychic ability also works on another level. It expresses Miki’s hero side. Because of the pain she feels from others, Miki becomes a vigilante and avenges the victim’s assault or death. Her ability defines her good core. I consciously try not to make it part of the plot or a thread in the series. You will not find out why or how she got it. There’s no final fight between good and evil.

So there you have it. Love me, hate me, that is the grit of Miki Radicci and I. It’s a rebellion. It’s a way of life. It is who I am. And I hope it is who you are too. Or I may piss you off.

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M.E. PURFIELD has done some script work for low low low budget films and even directed a few shorts. When it comes to writing novels, his strengths lie with Young Adult fiction, contemporary and noir fantasy. When not practicing the art of Potty Mouth, he spends his time raising his son, being married, watching horror films, and listening to punk music.

M.E. Purfield Online: Website | FacebookAmazon | Goodreads

Interview: Tatiana Boncompagni

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I am pleased to present Author Interview #2 with Tatiana Boncompagni: a New York-based journalist and author of the Clyde Shaw mystery series!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

TB: Curious, Athletic, Impatient, Outgoing, Resilient.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

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Excerpt: People cheat and people lie. It’s a fact of life I never found particularly newsworthy, except when someone ended up dead. That’s usually where I came in, turning betrayal and blood splatter into TV ratings gold. No Emmys yet, but that just kept me hungry—hungry enough to pick up my phone on a Sunday morning in early November when I ought to have been in deep REM.
Social Death, by Tatiana Boncompagni

Social Death is a breathless thriller that takes the reader deep inside the worlds of television news and glitterati New York.”
— Stuart Woods, New York Times bestselling author of Unintended Consequences

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

“The old saying that some people are ‘born in the wrong cradle’ applies to me. Early on I knew I wasn’t destined to spend the rest of my life in Oklahoma City, where I was born and raised. Still, my steady progression from student to restaurant hostess to salesgirl to collector and philanthropist and, finally, to one of the grande dames of New York is a pretty remarkable story, even if I do say so myself.”
Social Crimes by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

TB: My latest book, Social Death, is a mystery but my past novels, Hedge Fund Wives and Gilding Lily, were women’s fiction. What I like about writing mysteries is that there isn’t so much pressure to make the female protagonist likeable. You hear that word all the time from agents and editors, “Is she likeable?” And while it is true that there are good reasons for a main character to be appealing, I’m more inspired to create characters who aren’t straight-up nice. I like writing characters who are troubled and make flawed decisions, but whose reasons and behavior are still believable and, more importantly, relatable. I think there is more freedom to do that in the mystery genre than in traditional women’s fiction.

It can be very nice to be free from genre tropes and conventions. What is your definition of “good writing”?

TB: Good writing has two components. First are your sentences and second is how you arrange them. Some writers create sentences that convey emotions or atmosphere in a way that is beguilingly beautiful, poetic really. And other writers craft very good stories, often with an interesting or inventive plot structure. Really good writing has both of those components—sentence and structure—down. I think mysteries tend to be better plotted than they are written, but that’s just a generalization. I can name several authors that bowl me over just with their words. Megan Abbott and Lisa Unger are but two examples.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre:

TB: Everyone has a different process, so I think it is often hard to give advice. For me what seems to work is allowing myself to write freely just to get into the story and then take a step back to rework the beginning and hammer or plot out the middle and ending. But first, before chaining myself to any given ending or plot twists, I like to give myself the freedom to see where the story and characters take me.

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TATIANA BONCOMPAGNI is an award-winning journalist and the author of Social Death, Hedge Fund Wives and Gilding Lily. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three children. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Town & Country, InStyle and Vogue.

* Social Death is free on Amazon till May 2nd!

Tatiana Boncompagni Online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | The Book Designer

Interview: Sylvia Massara

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I am pleased to present Author Interview #1 with Sylvia Massara: a multi-genre novelist based in Sydney, Australia, who dabbles in wacky love affairs, drama and murder!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

SM: Creative, passionate, generous, loyal, fiery.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

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I tried very hard to control my temper as I fixed my work colleague and friend, Guy Dobbs, with a look that could vapourise a planet in a millisecond.

“Who the hell invited Smythe along?”

Dobbs winced at my enraged tone and did his best to give me a placating smile. “Now, Mia, you know you agreed to be good where Smythe’s concerned. Don’t forget he saved your life.”

I banged down my cup and the items on his desk rattled. We were having coffee in the security office of Rourke International Hotel Sydney, where Dobbs was the security manager.

“Honestly, I can’t believe you’re standing up for the guy. It was his friggin’ job to save my life,” I exclaimed indignantly. “Besides, I was the one who once again had to solve the case for the cops because they were too stupid to listen to me in the first place!”

Dobbs did not respond immediately but regarded me for a while until I had time to settle down. He knew me too well to try to push a point when it concerned my archenemy, Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe of the Kings Cross police.

I took a deep breath in order to calm myself. There was no point in losing my temper with Dobbs since the whole thing was now a fait accompli. I therefore remarked after a few moments of silence, “I just don’t understand it, Dobbs. What made you invite him on the cruise?”

Dobbs’s large, dark eyes gazed back at me from a chocolate brown, crinkled face topped by grey, frizzy hair. He spoke carefully lest he should provoke another outburst from me. “Mr Rourke told me I should invite someone in his place seeing as he couldn’t make it,” he explained in his deep voice with a marked American accent.

— Excerpt from The South Pacific Murders: A Mia Ferrari Mystery, by Sylvia Massara

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

— Excerpt from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

SM: I know, it’s not a mystery, but it makes good reading :)

Good reading, yes! What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

SM: Although I am a multi­-genre author, I do enjoy murder and mayhem more than anything else. I love the suspense, “who dunnit” type of novels that keep readers turning the pages.

I love murder and mayhem as well ;) What is your definition of “good writing”?

SM: Aside from having a manuscript without typos and grammatical errors, my definition of good writing is when a story moves along to its conclusion with characters and situations driving the storyline and not being used for “filler.” Everything that happens in the story must have a reason for it—such as “showing” not “telling” something about the characters—and it must drive the story to its conclusion.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre:

SM: Keep the main storyline moving without introducing “fluff” or “filler” material. A mystery/suspense/thriller needs to keep the reader from putting it down.

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SYLVIA MASSARA is a multi-genre novelist based in Sydney, Australia, who dabbles in wacky love affairs, drama and murder (or all three) over coffee. She has a soft spot for older female protagonists with an attitude who are on the cusp of 40 years and beyond. This is seen in her wacky, romantic comedies, and most recently, in her mystery novels.

Sylvia Massara Online: Website | Blog | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

The Carrier, by Preston Lang

NEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHT
The Carrier, by Preston Lang

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Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: 280 Steps
Publication Date: March 2014
Number of Pages: 250

Synopsis: It’s a bad idea for a drug courier to pick up strange women in roadside bars. Cyril learns this lesson when the girl he brings back to his motel room points a gun at him. But Willow isn’t the only one after the goods that Cyril’s been hired to pick up. A fast talking sex-offender and his oversized neighbor are also on the trail, as is Cyril’s sinister brother, Duane. Willow and Cyril soon form an uneasy alliance based on necessity, lust, and the desire for a quick payday. But with so many dangerous players giving chase, will they nab their package?

Excerpt:

They kept walking, past the main business district and into the darker residential streets. Cyril’s motel was off a side road somewhere close by. He hoped he could find it in the dark, but everything looked very much alike. First he led Willow down the wrong street that ended at an empty lot.

“This is where you’re staying?” she asked.

“I think I’m on the next street.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were leading me down a dark alley on purpose.”

“Why, so you could shoot me?”

Willow smiled. They found his motel, a cheap little two-story chain: the Firstway Inn. He led her to his door, and she watched calmly while he opened it and turned on the light. The room smelled flat and dusty, and only one of the three overhead light bulbs worked.

Willow jumped on Cyril, wrapping her legs around him, toppling him onto the bed. She kissed his face and his neck then worked inside his mouth, biting his inner lip. They tore off their clothes quickly and tumbled off the bed, fucking like they were the only humans left in a world full of zombies. It was a fantasy Willow had sometimes—there’s nothing else out there except mindless death, and we are probably infecting each other. Cyril seemed to get it.

She felt a little lost afterwards—a base note of pleasure under a single shot of panic. Jesus, she thought, I could fall for a guy like this. And then she put on her clothes. When she got to her shoes, Cyril sat up.

“Where are you going?”

“Nowhere.”

Cyril started to get dressed.

“You don’t have to get dressed,” she said, “I just like to have clothes on.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Thank you.”

Willow put on her jacket, and then she pointed her gun at Cyril.

“I’m going to need all the money,” she said.

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PRESTON LANG is a freelance writer, living and working in New York City. The Carrier is his debut novel.  

Preston Lang Online: Website | Twitter | Amazon | Interview | Blog Tour

Writing a Psychological Thriller

WRITING A PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER
Guest Post by Maria Savva

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Image from EWZine

Whenever I write a book or story, I always try to see things from the point of view of my characters. I like to think about every action in the book from the character’s perspective, and imagine how he or she would be feeling, what they would be thinking.

My latest novel, Haunted, is a psychological thriller. The novel is a character study and it’s a very dark book. Nigel, the main character in the novel, is living with the consequences of something he did in a moment of rage. Throughout the novel we see the deterioration of his mind. There are elements of horror, paranormal, and drama, as Nigel tries to come to terms with what happened and he is haunted by the mysterious woman from his past.

Getting into the mind of a murderer is quite an intense thing. When I was writing Haunted I had to almost become Nigel, so that I would know how he felt. I had to imagine what he would be thinking, how he would be behaving, and considering the dark nature of the novel, this was quite an emotionally draining thing to do.

HauntedI have been told that Haunted is the kind of book that stays with the reader long after they have read it. I see that as a great accomplishment because when I decided to write the novel, I had a particular aim and that was to make people think about how one moment of anger could change a person’s life for ever.

I was inspired to write the novel after hearing a news snippet on TV about a random murder. In London, it’s not unusual to hear news about murder, but for some reason that particular story stayed in my mind. It was a young boy, teenager, who had stabbed a nurse. It was disturbing because the boy didn’t know the nurse, so I started to think about what the boy would feel like if he found out about her background, if he knew what she was like, if he met her family, would he regret what he had done? The key element in my novel and one which I wanted to portray at the forefront of Nigel’s character was regret.

In my novel I have also added possible reasons as to why Nigel ended up committing the crime. It is clear that he is not a bad person. He was quite ‘normal’ before the incident that changed his life. In his upbringing there were possible signs that he might end up rebelling. He grew up to be quite an angry young man, but at the time he committed the crime he was quite settled in his life.

I wanted to portray a man who was ‘normal’ but who commits an unforgivable crime. I wanted to explore in the novel how that affected his family and the victim’s family.

The psychology of crime is a very interesting area. One thing that I hope to get across in Haunted is that often the criminal is also a victim, and that what happened to Nigel could happen to anyone.

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MARIA SAVVA was born in London on 19th March 1970. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga (although she has not written a courtroom drama to date).

Maria Savva Online: Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Playmates: Blog Tour

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This is the blog tour page for my psychological thriller, Playmates (Book 1 in The Wilde Twins: a trilogy about a brother sister serial killing team).

If you would like to review the book or be a part of this blog tour, please contact me at missfey[@]gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you!

* Playmates (website) | Amazon

* Wilde Twins (about the series) | Amazon

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===PLAYMATES: BLOG TOUR===

2013 (Pre-Publication)

Feb 23 — “Basement of Humanity” (article) at jessINK
Aug 6 — Author Spotlight with Morgen Bailey
Aug 8 — Excerpt with jessINK/Grammarly Inc.
Aug 9 — Excerpt on Indie Book Buffet
Oct 5 — Review at Midwest Book Review

2014 Blog Tour

Mar 31 — Excerpt in Bards and Sages Quarterly (journal)
April 12 — Review at Readers’ Favorite
April 17 — Book Feature at Book Goodies
April 17 — Acknowledgments / Thank You Note in trilogy
April 19 — Featured at Black Caviar Book Club
April 20 — Interview with Lori Lesko
April 21 — Author Page at Storyfinds
April 21 — Featured at Awesomegang
April 23 — Interview at I Heart Reading
April 25 — New Release Spotlight at Bestseller Bound
April 28 — Review at Hell Horror
April 29 — Featured at eBookSoda
April 29 — Spotlight at A Bookish Girl
April 30 — Giveaway at NOR and Goodreads
May 1 — Listed on Crime Thriller Hound UK
May 4 — Guest Post + Interview at Omnimystery
May 5 — Interview at Bangor Daily News
May 9 — Review at Goddess of Literature
May 9 — Interview at Awesome Gang
May 16 — Book Discovery at KBoards
May 17 — Interview at Bookie Monster
May 22 — Author Page and Interview at IndieView
May 27 — Interview + Review at Kelly Smith
June 10 — Review at Blogcritics
June — Book Spotlight at Butterfly-O-Meter