Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Darynda Jones Dishes About Friendship



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.     




Here's Darynda... 


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! 


Darynda


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, Doom and Detention (March 5, 2013)
From St. Martin's Press






37 comments:

Carlene said...

Good Morning Kim! Good Morning Darynda, I'm sorry, Fantabulous Darynda ;) Yep, I really get it now. Reading this and then going back through my fave romances to think about the friends involved made me smile. I love the Dark Hunters by S. Kenyon because of the fierce way they have each others backs and plus, that's where all the comedy comes from! The things true friends can say to each other is usually pretty hilarious. Good luck on your YA release Darynda! I look forward to reading it :)

Melissa Landers said...

Darynda!!! Welcome to Honestly YA. I think I speak for everyone when I say I'm Muppet flailing with excitement to have you here today.

And I totally agree that friendships are as important as the love interest. When I think back to the boys I dated high school, there were MANY of them...and I'm not friends with a single one today. But my girlfriends? Different story. Many of us are still close, even though we're separated by thousands of miles. I think that says something.

Loni Lynne said...

Kim and Darynda! Good morning! So happy to be here and couldn't agree more with friendship and characters. Many of my writings involve a friend or (a friendship with an elderly aunt-in which the comedy ensues). I've always thought it was the best way to bring out character traits.

As for great 'friendship pairings' I will agree with the Sherrilyn Kenyon 'Dark Hunters' series--always so much fun. But I think there would be no Star Wars without C3PO/R2-D2, no Carol Burnett Show without Harvey Korman/Tim Conway, no Pretty Woman without Kit Daluka. ( I know some of this dates me--but you get the picture.)

All the best to you Darynda!! Getting a copy of your YA for my niece for Christmas!

Hugs you two!

Denny S. Bryce said...

Happy Wednesday Kim and Darynda. Great topic. I thought about tv first - Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy. It's a tough-love friendship, which I like a lot. In books, Gone with the Wind's Scarlett and Melly come to mind-perspective on what friendship means is at the core of their relationship since Scarlett doesn't 'know' they are friends until the last pages while Melly is a devoted friend from their first meeting, practically:)...anyway...thanks for launching this topic, and Congrats Darynda on your new YA series.

Romily Bernard said...

What a great topic, Darynda! I can't to pick up DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. Am using it as bribery actually. IF I finish my word count THEN I can have the pretty new book :)

Dana Alma said...

Hello Ladies, what a cute post. Lurv it!

Tiffany Rarrick said...

Good Morning love the topic and I'm reading the book now taking my time so I don't rush it like all my other books!I would say that the Immortals After Dark series is great on freindship and love.

Jary said...

Great Topic! I love reading book that also have great friendships in them.

Traci Horton said...

What a wonderful topic and one of the main things that I love about Darynda's books is how strong the friendships are in them. Cookie is ALWAYS there for Charley in the Charley Davidson series and the same is true in Death and the Girl Next Door with Lorelei, Brooklyn and Glitch.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Congratulations on the awards!

And you're right, better explored relationships in the secondary characters helps avoid flat characters too.

Pintip said...

Great post, Darynda. You bring up a great point. Friendships are a great way to show a character's likability. After all, if that loner protagonist has no friends whatsoever, it's a little suspect, isn't it? Why should the reader like her if nobody else does? (Anti-heroes aside, of course.)

Congrats on your release, and I'm super looking forward to Death and the Girl Next Door! Think I'm going to start reading it today...

Kimberly said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! As Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, it may take her awhile to rub the sleep out of her eyes. :-)
I, too, love the stories with great friendships. Darynda's are especially great. What I wouldn't do for a Cookie of my very own! And now, Brooklyn and Glitch! Love them every bit as well.
The only problem with this series is that I have to WAIT!

Tammy Baumann said...

Hi Miz D,

Obviously my warnings about Kim went ignored and you’re still encouraging her…. ;0) (Love you Kim!!)

What you say here is so true– **The friendships my characters have are just as important as the love interest in the story.**

It’s one of the best ways to quickly make our characters fun and likable. But I’d like to tell everyone what makes you especially good at writing friends as secondary characters. It’s because you’re such a good friend to others. Seriously, it’s almost ridiculous!

Thanks for being mine ;0)

Crossing all things for great success with this series!

XOXO
T

Christina C. said...

I loved this blog conversation, because friendships have always been very important to me. I've had many "best friends" over the years, and while I don't have a life-long friend, I've always wished that I did, and I always put one in my stories, too.

Marie Brown said...

What a fantastic topic! I loved Death and the Girl Next Door and cant get enough of this book and i am definitly looking forward to the next one in this delightful YA series!

okcatherine said...

I love Darynda's secondary characters as much as I do her main characters. To have such strong friend and family relations is a precious, precious gift. My sisters and I are not only family, we are best friends. We do not take that for granted. Loyalty is a trait worth more than most and it is priceless.

Lorie Langdon said...

Hi Darynda!
I totally agree the close friendship is just as important as the love interest. In my YA novel DOON, the friendship may even be a bit more center stage than the romance.
A great example of a friendship providing empathy in a story is The Hunger Games. Without Peeta, Katnis is not so easy to like - as we see in most of the third book.

Great insight and thanks so much for sharing with Honestly YA's readers. =)

Rebecca Thomas said...

Hi Darynda,
For me, one of the best examples of friendship is Donkey and Shrek. Can you imagine how that story would fall flat without Donkey? While Shrek resists at first, he comes around. Great Topic!

Lea Nolan said...

Hi Darynda!!! Thanks so much for visiting us! I agree that secondary friendships are just as important as the romance. I helps round out the main characters and gives you a clue to their characters. I can't wait for DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR!

Steph Winkelhake said...

Hi Darynda! I have DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR on my TBR list, and I can't wait to read it!

One of my favorite friendships is Howl and Sophie's from HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. They're each lost in their own way, but as the story progresses, it's their friendship that ultimately helps them find themselves again.

Shelley Coriell said...

Fist bump, Darynda! I love to read books with huge casts of unique and compelling secondary characters, which is probably why I have so many quirky characters in my stories. :-) I think middle grade books in particular nail friendships. I just finished re-reading HOLES by Louis Sachar. LOVE that scene of Stanley carrying Zero up the mountain. One of the most powerful friendships scenes I've ever read.

Megan said...

Great post, Darynda! Friendship is such a crucial building block in YA fiction––and in life! Thank you for your insights.

mynextvamp said...

Death and the girl next door was awesome! And yes!, friendship is such an important thing, I wish all people had it.

amckuen said...

That is very sad that in room full of people only one person can say they have a true friend! I am in a military community and I can say that I have several people that I could call and they would be there in a snap!! I love the relationships that Charley has in your series they are fun and dependable and I totally agree that it would be a totally different story with out them I am waiting for my copy of Death and the girl next door and am super excited and LOVE, LOVE LOVE me some charley! Thanks for all you do Darynda!!!

Darynda said...

Muppet flailing!!! Hahaha. Thank you guys again for having me! This was great fun and I am in love with this blog!

Super big Kermit hugs!
~D~

Darynda said...

Kimberly, I did actually sleep late this morning. LOL. How did you know? And, Tammy, I know you wanted me, but Kim is such a force, so full of personality, it's futile to resist. teeheehee

Darynda said...

Oops!!!! WARNED ME! Not wanted me. Unless of course there's something I don't know about you, Tammy. Can we meet for drinks later? :)

Tammy Baumann said...

Drinks sound good, but I'll WARN you, I don't put out unless I get dinner! ;0)

Kimberly said...

Excuse me, girls. This here is a clean blog. Watch yourselves.
I don't even need dinner. Just some sort of chocolate dessert.
Just sayin'. LOL

readwritebliss said...

Great post on a great subject. Of other series that I've read this year, the Elena/Bonnie/Meredith friendship in the original Vampire Diaries series comes to mind. These three really see each other through thick and thin. It is very true that the characters' friends reflect likeability onto them, because it is Elena's friendships with her two best buddies that make her likeable at the the beginning, when she is a bit privileged and self-centered and still has some growing to do.

I just picked up "Death and the Girl Next Door" at the bookstore today! Can't wait to start reading it.

Misty Speer said...

Wow, I really enjoyed this! Thank you! I have to say that I really enjoy the friendship between Cookie and Charley. It's always felt that even though its a friendship in the pages of a book, it's so real. After reading what Darynda wrote about friendships, I can see why. I also enjoy the In Death series by J. D. Robb. I love the friendship that Eve Dallas and Mavis have and I enjoy that Eve is forging more friendships along the way.

Redheaded Bookworm said...

Great post! I agree the friendships are a major part! Thanks for hosting! I love Darynda and her books!

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Congrats on the release of DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, Darynda! That's a fantastic tip from Michael Hauge about creating empathy for our main characters.

The sitcom HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is playing in the background now. The characters are in no way perfect, but I love their loyalty to each other.

x Vanessa (not in the US or Canada -- sniffle, sniffle)

Kerri Carpenter said...

I'm a bit late to the party but what a fantastic post! (Really made me think about my current heroine too - hmmmm.)

For a great example of friends, I would definitely go with Buffy, Willow and Xander from Buffy. Their personalities, likes, interests and relationships changed and evolved over the years but it never faltered. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Darynda,

Great post. I think secondary characters are the glue that holds the hero/heroine together. Not only do they give the h/h more depth, they give the story more complexity, a more full-bodied experience which in-turn helps the reader care more about the h/h.

Think about it this way folks-- There is a reason we have awards for supporting actors and supporting actress's. If they weren't important, they wouldn't be on stage.

Fellow Margie grad--DeBORah

CareyCorp said...

Hey Darynda! I'm late to the party as usual. I LOVE AWAKWARD. The life of Jenna Hamilton (and the show) wouldn't be the same without besties Tamara and Ming. The BFF relationship adds such a poignant and humorous dimension.

Kimberly said...

Congratulations to Steph Winkelhake for winning a signed copy of DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR!
Please email me with your address. Thanks!