I am YA author B. A. Binns. This month I'm focusing on revolution: the bloodless kind.
It’s the moment most parents live for, and dread. The day their child becomes his or her own person. I’m not talking about the eighteenth birthday, or going to college or any of the other external milestones. I mean an internal revolution, a day when the child looks around at the world, the values and ideas their parents have given them and realize they have their own different and distinct world views.
Authors sometimes have experiences like that. The day a character lets its creator know they have their own lives and feelings and desires, whether or not that fits in with the plot. Or, they jump onto the page fully formed and ready to take the story in a new direction.
That is what recently happened to me.
Minority Of One, a contemporary YA novel that will be released in March. Seriously, the book was ninety-five percent set in stone. Then, suddenly, a character that had not even been on my radar jumped up, said “Here I am,” and attempted to take over the storyline in December.
Minority Of One involves a gay teen (Neill) and a straight girl (Sheila). No, it's not a romance between these two. Instead this is a parallel coming-of-age story where both kids rebel against family expectations and have their own separate romances. In one scene Neill and Sheila attend a meeting of their high school’s Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual and Straight Alliance (Sheila calls it the alphabet soup group). This scene included a nameless bisexual girl who spoke approximately three lines. Suddenly, in that last revision, she took over the entire scene, gave herself a name and an attitude and let me know she had the hots for the story’s villain.
It was like seeing the quiet kid in the last row suddenly jump to the front of the class and explain the theory of relativity. In single syllable words everyone in class could understand.
Her name, she told me, was Kesia Kasili. That’s significant, because her father, the school shrink, plays
|Kesia, the real girl|
Sounds a lot like a real girl.
Then something hit me. The guy she likes suffers from depression (I had already written that into the plot). Kesia is the SK – the shrink’s kid. Maybe there is a new book, a teen romance matching these two. Of course, there is also the complication of her also being attracted to girls. I see conflict! Maybe the picture on her father’s desk is just an old picture. And maybe she was right when she performed an Athena and burst fully formed from my brain. After all, my tagline is Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men and the people who love them. That means the girls also get to be real enough to revolt against their creator's wishes and chose their own destiny. (Maybe it's related to typical mother-daughter conflict. The guys in my books never do this to me. I'm even teaching an online course called Man Talk through YARWA that is all about writing male characters during February because they perform so well for me.)
While I continue putting the final, final touches on Minority Of One, I have begun outlining the romance between Kesia and Spencer who played the bad guy in two of my books, both Being God and Minority of One. Tentatively titled The Child With No Complaint, from a line in a song by Jacques Brel (As you can tell, my taste in music is obscure). Kesia will get a chance to see if she learned enough from Dad to help Spencer shed his depression and bad-boy image without having to deny her own nature. I see her taking center stage sometime in 2015.