Kim here. I'm super excited to have with us today the fantabulous Darynda Jones! Her first adult book--FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT--won both the Golden Heart and then the RITA. Her first YA--DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR--debuted last week, and I predict it will do just as well as her Charley Davidson series. She has generously agreed to give away a signed copy of her new book to one lucky commenter today. We ship to U.S. and Canada only.
First, thank you to everyone at Honestly YA for having me today! I’m thrilled to be here.
I’ve been writing YA since I was a YA, and my love for it has never waned. I sold an adult series, the Charley Davidson series, before my young adult even though I wrote the YA years before. Only after that first sale did the YA series sell. The first one, Death and the Girl Next Door, is an October release and I’m thrilled that it’s finally hitting the shelves. Still, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about friendship and how it deepens any story on a molecular level. Promise!
One of the things I noticed very early in my writing career was that while I loved the stories of the main characters, I loved the interaction with the secondary characters just as much. I felt they were important in showing the reader who the characters really were inside and for story development in general, and I’m always a little surprised when writers don’t utilize this great tool.
Around the time all this was taking shape in my scary mind, another thing happened that got the old brain percolating. One of my BFFs was taking a class in college when the instructor asked a very interesting question. He asked the students who had a friend so close, so dependable that she could call that friend at 3:00 a.m. for a ride because her car broke down. My BFF was the only one who raised her hand and that broke my heart. The instructor said a friend like that is very rare, and I thought, “Not in my world. And not in my characters’.”
Now I’m going to make a statement that many might argue with, but I stand by it wholeheartedly. The friendships my characters have are just as important as the love interest in the story. They shape who my characters are, how they see the world, and how they react to the challenges they have to face. I’m not saying the friendships are perfect. We don’t live in a perfect world and my readers would never buy that kind of bubble-gum perfection blindly. But my characters are fiercely loyal to each other and will risk almost anything for them. That is not perfection; that is true friendship.
But let’s think about those stories in which the main characters seem to have no friends. Maybe the heroine is pretty enough, a little shy perhaps, withdrawn, and doesn’t really have any real friends. Unfortunately, that’s all we get. That one dimension with a few adjective thrown in for good measure. Without friendships to foster character development and move the story forward through dialogue and such—not to mention supply the much-appreciated comic relief—we are left with a rather empty, hollow feeling and a character made of cardboard. We may not fully understand our heroine because her personality reflects off of nothing. Friendships act as a sounding stage for our heroine’s beliefs and morals, her doubts and misgivings, her hopes and heartbreaks.
Michael Hauge says that one way to elicit empathy for our characters is to make them likable, and one way to make them likeable is to show them being liked by others. Not by everyone! There has to be conflict, of course, but that loyal friend or group of friends is priceless and should never be underestimated.
Here are a few sets of friends that might prove my point. What comes to mind when you see these friendships?
Thank you again for having me. Can you come up with examples of true friendships in fiction, be it literature or film? Let us hear them!
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a RITA®, and a Daphne du Maurier. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.
Death and the Girl Next Door OUT NOW!
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Oct 30, 2012)
Death, Doom and Detention (March 5, 2013)
From St. Martin's Press