ATWN Guest Post: YA Author, Melanie Hooyenga – The Pressure of Number Two: Let Lorde Lead the Way
I’m so excited because we have a special guest today on the blog! YA author, Melanie Hooyenga has stopped by to share a post about writing that second book. If you haven’t read her novels FLICKER or FRACTURE, you’re missing out! I also have the pleasure of knowing Melanie in real life too, and have shared some fun, memorable writerly events with her. She’s in a word – AWESOME. So without any more babbling from me, welcome Melanie!
When I wrote the first book in the Flicker Effect trilogy, FLICKER, my biggest challenge was finishing the first draft in one month. Yes, I wrote it during NaNo in 2010. It ended up taking me two months to finish that draft, then another two years before I finally published it.
But the second book brought a lot of pressure: What if I can’t live up to the readers’ expectations? What if the characters fall flat? What if it’s a weak second effort, making the third book pointless? With FLICKER, I had my outline and zero expectations. Now I had friends, family, and even strangers asking about the sequel. What if a year of writing turned out to be a completely wasted effort?
I don’t tend to listen to music while I’m writing, but I do listen to music while brainstorming, plotting, and outlining. When I wrote FLICKER, I listened to a lot of Florence + the Machine. I saw her open for U2 the next summer when I was querying, so she’s forever tied to that book for me. (And there’s a mention of FloMo—my husband’s nickname for her.)
For FRACTURE, Lorde’s album Pure Heroine became my crack—her voice is hypnotic and it doesn’t hurt that she looks a lot like how I imagine my MC, Biz (before she had surgery and had her head shaved). Listening to her album helped me get past the self-doubt and other junk in my head and just focus on the story. FRACTURE is a more serious than FLICKER, and I needed inspiration that was a little heavier, but still full of that delightful teenage angst to keep me in the right mindset.
The song Buzzcut Season felt like it was written for Biz. She has brain surgery at the end of book one, and FRACTURE opens with her dealing with, among other thing, her freshly shaved head. As a teenager, vanity is a big part of getting through high school, and not having any hair makes her an easy target for bullies.
There’s some debate online as to the meaning of the song—some say war, others say an illness—but to me it’s somewhat melancholic, a longing for an easier time. For my characters that would be before Cameron’s sister was kidnapped, and then before she was rescued and brought into an even harder time in her life. A lot of the songs on Pure Heroine could reflect Katie’s view on the world as well.
And I’ll never go home again (place the call, feel it start)
Favorite friend (and nothing’s wrong but nothing’s true)
I live in a hologram with you
Where all the things that we do for fun (and I’ll breathe, and it goes)
Play along (make believe, it’s hyper real)
But I live in a hologram with you.
The song also reminds me to go back to that pure state of writing, when my only goal is to tell the story. There’s plenty of time to worry about what everyone else thinks after the draft is finished.
I’m currently writing book three, FADED, but I have an outline for a brand new story that I’ll write next. To help me gear up for a lighter, sweeter story I’ve been obsessively listening to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Obsessively, as in I listen to the entire album, and then I replay from the fifth or sixth song to the end until the end of the day. I finally bought the movie last week. The story idea was inspired by Grease so I won’t be surprised if a song or two works its way into the novel.
Melanie Hooyenga first started writing as a teenager and finds she still relates best to that age group. Her young-adult novel, FLICKER, debuted in November 2012, and the sequel, FRACTURE, released in June 2014. She has lived in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Mexico, but has finally settled down in her home state of Michigan with her husband Jeremy. When not at her day job as a graphic designer, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with Jeremy.
Thanks for stopping by, Melanie!
Have a great week, everyone!