I’ve been writing young adult fiction for a while now. Summer on Fire was actually my first attempt. I started writing it for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2003. But after penning most of my first YA, I took a turn into the adult literary novel…and stayed there for several years. Not only did I stay there, I also shelved Summer on Fire unfinished. I found I wanted to write novels with young protagonists dealing with dysfunctional families and handling adult situations. So, though I continued to write from the perspective of young adult first person narrators, I took them into adult situations that just were not age appropriate for YA literature.
I don’t know how I came back to YA…and back to my shelved novel that eventually became published by MuseItUp Publishing. But I think it had something to do with following my reading preferences. A couple of years ago I decided I missed reading young adult fiction, so I dove back into it. I discovered I still loved it as much as I ever did. The more I read, the more I wanted to write for this market. The more I considered writing for the market, the more I wanted to dust off Summer on Fire and revisit it.
This is where my critique group came in handy! At the time, I hosted a once-a-month critique group in my home. There were eight of us. That meant seven sets of eyes to examine my unfinished shelved YA novel and give me feedback on it. They were extremely helpful. Along with pointing out some things that needed to be tweaked to improve upon Summer on Fire, they also urged me to forge ahead and get it submission ready. In other words, they liked it. I was told that YA was my market and that my voice was best suited for it. And since I never trusted my own opinion of my writing abilities, I decided to listen to my critique group. I simply moved forward with the story, and later with a series of edits based on the feedback I received from my circle.
So though I always knew I loved YA, and I felt most comfortable writing for this market, I never quite trusted my ability to do so. I have to thank my writing group for pushing me through the door. For insisting that Summer on Fire was worthy of publication in the YA market. Sometimes you need a little nudge to get to the place you feel most comfortable being in. That place for me, as a writer, is the YA market. I’m so glad I received that push. Without it, Summer on Fire would probably still be gathering dust. And the encouragement I received from my group to continue to write for this market helped me to complete my second YA novel, the contemporary/paranormal Half Dead & Fully Broken, which is now in the hands of my agent.
When a writer follows their bliss as a reader, they should realize that their writing bliss might just fall into that same place. It took me a while to realize I should write what I read, but once I discovered it there was no turning back. “Write what you know” was discarded for the more appropriate, “Write what you love”. And that’s why I write YA.
PRAISE FOR SUMMER ON FIRE:
“This book was absolutely fantastic. I can already see that this will be making the round among family and friends. It tells a great story and for many that I know, it will likely evoke memories of a different time because of the wonderful attention to detail. I’m very glad to have had the chance to read this.”
“Really, I just loved everything about this novel. Summer on Fire is a great summer read, and I couldn’t put it down.”
“The story is very visual and painted a vivid picture of the characters and locations. It also has a great message about loyalty, friendship and contrition without being obvious or preachy. I’ll be recommending this to both my teenage children! Great job, Kevin! I can’t wait to read the next one.”
About Summer on Fire:
Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from imminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.
Kevin’s Website: www.kevintcraig.com