After his chilling trip of a debut, Beatrysel (click here to read my review), I think I did a little happy dance when I found out he was going to be venturing into YA next.
I was not disappointed.
You can read my (rave) review of Eleanorhere.
There's a giveaway at the end of this post, but first, since he's already shared what scares him and how it influences his work, I'm asking today about genre-jumping.
What made you want to write YA after your adult occult thriller debut, and how are the two experiences similar or different?
Beatrysel came out of a hard time in Oregon. A bunch of my friends all got divorced the same time. It was terrible and strange, love turned to hate, palpable and raw. Emotions so strong they seemed to be alive. As it was happening, being a writer, I secretly took mental notes. The story grew out of that experience and by writing Beatrysel, I exorcised the demons from that time (forgive the pun).
Eleanor (The Unseen) found me at a time when I was thinking about family and growing up. I thought about being an outsider and in a car full of outgoing male teenagers, I wondered what a shy daughter would be like.
That was her genesis.
I combined that idea with several others I had floating around – Indian legends, cancer and hiding in plain sight and thus Eleanor grew into a tale.
Compared to the mood and pacing of Beatrysel readers of that book might be surprised to see such a dramatically different one in Eleanor. Beatrysel is a murder mystery. It’s plot driven. It’s complicated, but ultimately it’s about people dying and Portland. Eleanor is not that way. It is not about an incident but about a girl.
Eleanor is a gentle book. It is a slow burn. I modeled it after Watership Down of all things and To Kill a Mockingbird, books that tell a flowing story, episodic, more of a parable or epic than a three act page-turner. It is not the story of a single event, but of a girl’s life.
Eleanor and Beatrysel are very different, so too was the experience of writing each. Night and day, or rather night and stormy dawn. That’s why I love writing. Every story is its own experience. They are born of a moment, conceptualized in the mind, scratched out on napkins and iPhone screens, and then shaped into a reality that, if done well, contains power and meaning which others can share. It’s all Magick, so I guess my books aren’t that different after all.
"A riveting supernatural character study wrought with the pains of first love and the struggles of self-acceptance."—Kirkus Reviews
About Johnny Worthen
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