Saturday, 27 April 2013

Guest Post: Liz Coley (Pretty Girl-13)

Hey guys! I'm so honoured to welcome Liz Coley here at City of Books for a guest post as part of Books That Glow 2013! You must have heard of her thrilling debut novel, Pretty Girl-13. If not, you can read my review here, and my BTG 2013 co-host Rabiah's review here.

Things Known and Left Unknown
by Liz Coley

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. 
- E.L. Doctorow

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.
- Donald Rumsfeld

Richa asked: As Pretty Girl-13 is a mystery, when you first started writing, did you know clearly how it was going to end?

When I started writing Pretty Girl-13, I knew plenty about Angie, how and where she disappeared, how she lived for those three years, the names and personalities of her numerous alters, and their relationships to each other. I also knew that the story would involve the unfolding of secret after secret, including secrets the alters themselves didn’t know. I had a good sense of the major turning points as each of the three big secrets was revealed. The first is mentioned in every review and on the jacket cover--the fact that Angie has Dissociative Identity Disorder. The second major secret, which provides the foundation for what came later, is unfortunately mentioned in several reviews. The “final” secret that the third act of the story centers around has been mentioned only in the negative reviews, so don’t go there if you don’t like super spoilers. And after the end, when the book is closed, we realize there’s a final-final secret about her escape from captivity that Angie and her readers will never know for sure. That includes me. I certainly have my own opinion about it, but I think that lingering element of mystery suits the question about the role of memory in identity. Maybe after everything is said and done, there are still secrets you can’t even tell yourself.

While I could wrap my brain around the people and the turning points ahead of time, I didn’t always know how I was going to move from A to Z. This was the first novel I ever wrote out of order, in fact, as I concentrated on the parts I knew best and then developed the connections between them. At the end of National Novel Writing Month I had a fifty-thousand word draft with a soft landing. It didn’t deliver the punch that the rest of the novel had promised. My first readers weren’t shy about pointing this out!

To develop what became the published ending, I forced Angie to face what she was most afraid of (completely losing herself again) and asked the same of one of her alters (“all the girls are afraid of fire”). By putting these two ideas together, instead of a static conversation in a therapist’s office, the story delivered a cinematic climax where metaphor meets reality. Whether you think it’s over the top or the perfect culmination is entirely up to you.

Wow! I think your writing process sounds amazing and I love that fact that there are secrets about Angie that you haven't even told yourself! I absolutely loved the climax of Pretty Girl-13, and this book is honestly a must-read, guys. No doubt. Thank you so much to Liz Coley for taking the time to write this incredibly awesome guest post :)

About Liz Coley:

Liz Coley's short fiction has appeared in Cosmos magazine and speculative fiction anthologies. This is her first novel for teens. With a background in science, Liz follows her interest in understanding "the way we work" down many interesting roads. 

Liz lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, her teenaged daughter, a snoring dog, and a limping old cat. When she's not involved in writing-related activities, she can be found sewing, baking, shooting photos, playing tennis, and singing.

Find Liz on:

About Pretty Girl-13:

Title: Pretty Girl-13
Author: Liz Coley
Release date: March 19th 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Psychological Thriller

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

1 comment:

  1. I just finished it and loved it! I was wondering the same thing: did she plan from the very beginning to end the story like this?

    Great answer Coley!


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