Today I am welcoming Barbara Dee author of Trauma Queen (stay tuned for my review later today!) She also has a fun giveaway!
Barbara has a great guest post on writing and middle school. Welcome Barbara!
Writing About Yourself In Middle School
Sometimes kids ask me where I get my ideas. They wonder if I’m writing about my own middle school experience. My answer is: No. And also Yes.
Here’s the complete list of everything I’ve used from my own tween years:
—My writing journal. Like Cassie in Just Another Day In My Insanely Real Life, I wrote in a notebook every day. But I didn’t turn my family life into a fantasy novel, and I never wrote an anti-journal as a protest. However, once I was convinced that my teacher wasn’t reading my homework, so I wrote “scrambled eggs” in the middle of a paragraph, just as a test. And I guess he’d been reading my work after all, because he wrote “SCRAMBLED EGGS? WHAT???” in red ink.
—Weird sandwiches. My friend Debbie used to eat pastrami-and-Fritos-on rye bread. In Solving Zoe, the main character eats tuna-and-potato-chip sandwiches every day—until one day she decides, Eww.
—A wild friend. When I was in middle school, I had a free-spirited BFF. She was nothing like Francesca in This Is Me From Now On, but she jolted me out of my comfort zone. Mostly in a good way.
That’s about it. What I do use from my own life are strong memories of how I FELT as a middle schooler—all the pain and embarrassment and giddiness of those years are still very real to me. Of course, to create characters and stories I also use my imagination. (Writing would be no fun if you didn’t!) And I get plenty of ideas just from observing people—Starbucks and trains are my favorite places for eavesdropping.
Let me tell you how I got the idea for my new book, Trauma Queen. One winter morning, I was driving my daughter to her middle school. It was during the annual Spirit Week, when you were supposed to dress in costume. That happened to be Pajama Day, and as we pulled up to the school’s parking lot, a girl got out of the car in front of us. She was wearing pink jammies—oversized, flannel, probably, with some sort of retro pattern.
Cute, I thought.
Then I realized she wasn’t moving. She was just standing there, in the parking lot, hunched over, her arms crossed over her chest.
And you could tell exactly what she was thinking: Wait a minute. It IS Pajama Day, right? I didn’t get the calendar wrong, did I? I won’t be the only kid dressed like this? Omigod, please tell me it’s Pajama Day!
Just then a school bus pulled up, and kids poured out, most of them wearing their pj’s. And as soon as she realized she was dressed like everyone else, her body unfroze, and she ran up to the entrance.
But by then my mind was spinning. What if she’d gotten the calendar wrong, after all? And what if the reason she showed up in pj’s was her mom’s fault? And what if her mom did stuff like this all the time? Okay, but why? How could it be that her mom was always mortifying her? Wait! How about if….
I drove straight home and started typing.
Memories of middle school mortification + imagination + observation = story.
Now for the giveaway!!!!!!
Trauma Queen fab giveaway! Three lucky winners will receive one copy of TRAUMA QUEEN by Barbara Dee along with a limited edition t-shirt! To enter, send an e-mail to TQgiveaway@gmail.com. In the body of the e-mail, include your name and e-mail address (if you’re under 13, have a parent enter for you). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 5/13/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 5/14/11 and notified via email.
Barbara is a featured author on a new website called VYou. Readers can submit questions and chat with her! Just go to: http://vyou.com/barbaradee
Barbara Dee’s next stop on the tour is YA Books Central at http://yabookscentral.blogspot.com/.
AND I will have my review up later today! 🙂