Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Young adult male P.O.V.

In my line of work, I have the wonderful opportunity to write fanciful stories about supernatural characters and places. You would think my market audience, teens + young adult fantasy = sales, would be fairly easy to pinpoint, but I have found that equation far from the truth. Young adult literature has a large age range starting at 12 and ending at 18. Some libraries classify teen readers as 14-18, while another literature group specified some YA to be appropriate for mature 4th and 5th graders, not to mention the actual adults who prefer reading it. Then there is the gender factor…can one book genre appeal to both species equally or do girls take the cake because teen boys have been branded as ‘uninterested readers’.
I initially started writing young adult because of a promise I had made to my young sons. I created a story about twin boys with elemental powers and the all encompassing evil king to keep and capture their attention, but being a fan of YA literature myself, I wanted to draw in young women to the story as well. How was I to do that? I thought by incorporating small elements of romance and the fact my main characters are described as being relatively nice looking, I might be able to create a novel for both genders.  The boys obviously drawn to the superhero aspect along with the action sequences and the girls tending to associate with their personalities and romantic endeavors.  I’m anticipating writing four novels in the series with a possibility of a fifth book ending the saga, so I have had an amazing time writing the Elements books and filling the pages with new characters, new powers, new realms, and looking forward to new ideas that flood my imagination daily.
Anyone who has asked me the question, “Who do you base your characters on?”, knows my answer is my own children. Most of the characteristics Gage & Talon Thorn portray in the book are the personality traits of my sons.  Sometimes it is extremely difficult to add elements to the story that go against my instinct as a protective mother, such as a love interest or mild romance. I’ve wanted to nit-pick the young ladies in my books about how they treat Gage & Talon, but I quickly remind myself they are fictional beings and not my real-life daughter-in-laws in waiting. Ridiculous, yes, I know.
I have always been extremely fond of research and finding out bits of trivia throughout my life. In order to improve my story line and attract the attention of more teenage boy readers, I asked my teen son to humor me and answer some interview questions for a creative writing session. Here’s how it went: (some answers are short and to the point, vague… welcome to my life with a teen boy)
MOM = M                           SON = S
M:          Do you enjoy reading books?
S:            Some, if they are interesting.

M:          What type of books catch your interest?
S:            YA fantasy, paranormal, militia type stories, mystery, spy books, and mythology.

M:          Do you think books in the teen genre have too much romance?
S:            The types of books I generally read don’t have romance, but if YA books don’t have romance in them, what would the hero be chasing after or fighting for?
(I thought the above answer was so simple, yet quite powerful. The truth coming from a thirteen yr old. Love really does make the world go around, even in fantasy realms!)

M:          What do you look for in a superhero or a main character?
S:            In a superhero, I look for cool powers, and how they look on the front cover. In a main character I’m drawn to people who have a sarcastic personality, strong physical features, and a really cool name.

M:          Who inspired you to start reading books?
S:            My third grade teacher challenged our class to reach a reading goal and those of us who met the goal got to go see a movie at the theatre during school hours as a field trip. I found out reading wasn’t as boring as I thought and started picking up books more often and asking to go to the bookstore to find new ones.

M:          Do you read for fun or as a requirement for school?
S:            Both, but I need to be drawn to the front cover of a book I’m reading for fun. The character needs to look kind of tough, with awesome hair. (He laughs)

M:          What are your favorite book covers?
S:            Definitely Kingdom of Aqueous, and not because you’re my mom, but because it’s awesome! I also liked Prince of Persia. I liked the Percy Jackson books, but I thought the front covers were a little childish, but I still read them.

M:        In your opinion, why do you think teen boys don’t read a lot?
S:         Most kids my age would rather play video games, text or watch T.V.

M:        If you were a character in a book, what would you want to be like?
S:         I’d have to have a strong body, the ability to control water, the power to fly and be a werewolf all in one. Don’t forget to make my character extremely wealthy and incredibly handsome with a Learjet.

(Then he had the nerve to ask if I wanted his autograph before he gets famous! How cute is that?)

When we ended our short Q & A session, I was left with a refreshed feeling paralleled by a curiosity. “Do all teen boys think relatively the same, or is my son a small percentage?”  I asked my son’s best friend the same series of questions, and their answers were really quite close. Which leads me to my conclusion, teen boys do read, but only if the cover jumps out and grabs them!  Apparently, the old adage of: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, doesn’t apply to young adults!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cover Reveal

Kingdom of Aqueous

Book three in the Elements series

Book three continues the journey and adventure of fraternal twins Gage and Talon Thorn, born from an ancient prophecy with extraordinary elemental abilities. The book is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012! For further details about release, or sneak peek excerpts, follow author fan page Kate Fuentes or the author webpage Elements.

If you haven't already, go and download book one: Elements The Beginning or book two: Elements Veil of Darkness. Elements Series Thanks!

Cover art by Devan N. Edwards of Nimbi Design

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Through the Eyes...

Dawn sends her refreshing beams of light soaring blindingly through the window pane to seek its vengeance on those who defy the morning call. Your body repels the movement and ventures a last stand against the daily ritual by sending spasms of pain jolting through your limbs and popping your joints. You pull the warmth of the covers away from you only to expose the chill waiting anxiously to pounce its victim before you can wash the night away in the comfort of the shower. Sheets of alluring water trickle down your skin to rid you of the hours spent tossing away in a dreadfully dreamless state. A twinge of relief pulls its way out of the chasms of darkness and surfaces for a moment before the shrill of small voices shatter the blissful atmosphere. Children bellow loudly, asking where their shoes are and what the plan shall be for breakfast. A small eruption of emotions commandeer the kids and a tiny fight breaks out over who shall get the last applesauce for afternoon lunches.
Time has played a cruel trick and you no longer have but five minutes to ready yourself for the day. The world will have to see you as intended, a haphazard shell of a woman reporting for duty. After the family taxi and chauffer, a.k.a. mom, has delivered the children safely to school, she drives calmly and quietly to work only taking a moment in the parking lot to appreciate the quietness of the car. AAAAHHHHH…
Clock in for work, sit down in front of the computer and hope the two of you are on pleasant terms. Pray the electronic device has pity on you and doesn’t crash. Answer the clanging phone, scour the list of ‘things to get done’, watch the clock slowly tick down the minutes until lunch, quickly fill your body with nourishment, count down remaining hours until 5pm.
Jump in the car and dread the onslaught of traffic waiting to swallow you into the abysmal lines of smog and lights. You clench your jaw and create a massive headache with a slight ringing in your ear and hope you remembered to take out a meat product of some sort for your famished brood awaiting your arrival. Open the door to the clicking of eight legs of excited canines rushing to greet you and snag your leggings with no hope of repair. Another five dollar investment down the tubes. Note to self: go to store, buy more leggings! You hear the rush of wind coming toward your face and duck at the last moment. The blur of a football and the grunt of the receiver standing inches away alerts your mind you are indeed home. The sight of your body passing through the game of toss-back now attracts the attention of the two starving boys and they can no longer hold back their cries of hunger. Dinner is the number one item on the agenda. Slip off your gorgeous platform heels and place them out of danger from the slobbering teething puppy.
Halfway through food preparation, kiss your spouse wandering in from work and continue the dinner service. Eat, talk about our day, clean up dinner, assist with homework, bellow out orders for showers and bedtime. Prayers, kiss the kids and turn off all the lingering lights left on inside the house…everywhere. An hour or two of adult time passes then the whisper begins to tickle your ear and call you like a tempting siren. Words fill your tired mind and beckon to be released in a fury. Your fingers twitch in anticipation, your stomach convulses in excitement. The story is captive inside your head and must be unshackled or risk being lost forever. Time is again your enemy, but now it passes by quickly only to reveal the blaring clock saying 2:30am. It felt like sheer moments had passed by instead of four hours. Adrenaline has been tapped out and your body gives in. The cycle must begin again and you must relinquish your control to the sanctum of sleep. Goodnight sweet story, until we can meet again.
The remnants of a wife, mother, worker, writer….

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Makes A Leading Man?

My mom was a single mother and raised my sister and me to be independent women. There was a SERIOUS lack of male testosterone in the house, except for the cat, and I only had one male role model to look up to, my uncle. Unfortunately, mom didn’t always have her dating radar dialed in correctly, so the boyfriend meter was generally ‘off’, to put it mildly. I grew up thinking marriage and romantic gestures were a thing of ‘fiction’ until I met my future and current husband. Although, I did make him work hard and solidly refused marriage until we were out of college, but eventually I married my junior high sweetheart and the rest is history!
I do have a point to this story, and here it is: What makes a ‘Leading Man’ a HERO not a ZERO? If you look to our movies, books, and T.V. series for your answer, then I suppose any ‘hero’ with a set of rock hard abs and beautiful hair makes the cut. Not so long ago, well okay maybe it was twenty or thirty years ago, but who’s counting…anyway, heroes used to wear masks to cover their rugged looks, and sometimes not so rugged looks. The superheroes of yesteryear weren’t always handsome and they certainly didn’t have that chiseled body type of today’s superstars. Their OUT OF THIS WORLD characteristic was their ability to save the damsel in distress with honesty, integrity, courage and a little bit of swoon factor. Have the young ladies been manipulated into selling out to a creep with a ravishing body and a gorgeous pearly white smile? I hope not!
I’m a sucker for a great story involving romance and butterfly stomachy (totally not a word, but I’m gonna use it) feelings just like anyone else, but I also need to believe in the hero and know his intentions are unique, honorable, and he’s in it for the long haul when the damsel eventually gets stretch marks and puts a little meat on her bones. Yeah, I’m that kind of realist…
I will admit to adding the ‘swoon’ factor to characters in my young adult book series, Elements, where I describe the two leading young men Gage and Talon as almost Greek-Godlike with their sculptured bodies and flawless looks. In my defense though, I further describe them heavily throughout the series with normal everyday problems and setbacks just like a regular teen boy growing up. (With the added pressure of an evil emperor chasing them and trying to kill them, of course. It’s fiction, I need to add a little fantasy factor!) In my opinion, showing the humanism and some characteristic flaws, readers can relate realistically and appreciate the qualities instead of disassociating from the story. Talking about depression, death, insecurities and guilt alongside feelings of euphoria, confidence, humor and love will indeed counterbalance a story to simulate ‘real life’ while still portraying a fictional narrative. Like any author, I put a little piece of myself in each novel and the portion I chose to input is my fondness for respect and a man who is raised to be a gentlemen. My uncle is a true southern gentleman and taught me I should expect nothing less from a man, although growing up in California, this is a bit of an anomaly. (Not to say it is extinct, just rare. I still love being a California girl, no doubt!)
 I have, in turn, raised my sons the same way as my family has for generations by teaching them the essence of gentlemanly mannerisms. Gage and Talon Thorn (Elements characters), like my real life sons, show qualities that are rare in main stream society such as opening the door for a lady, responding with ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’, standing when an elder enters the room and removing their hat when eating at a table. I admire these qualities and I think this may be my personal link to what makes a leading man a HERO not a ZERO. It's not ALL about the looks, it's about the persona and what lies deep within. A hero who can kick a little butt, is willing to admit they're not perfect and needs some help too. 
If you would like to weigh in on the topic, please post your comment here or catch me on twitter at http://twitter.com/fuentes_kate1 . #herovszero