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Miranda Kenneally: The Art of Making Mistakes

Today I have a guest post from the ever-lovely Miranda Kenneally. Miranda is the author of two contemporary YA novels, CATCHING JORDAN and STEALING PARKER, with an additional companion novel, THINGS I CAN'T FORGET, coming March 2013.

I read CATCHING JORDAN earlier this year and was an immediate fan. Keneally took a place alongside Sarah Dessen, Jandy Nelson, and Stephanie Perkins as one of my favorite YA contemp authors and for months I anticipated STEALING PARKER's release.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to have finally read it, and to have one of my favorite authors on the blog. Cue squeeing!

In a nutshell: Fans of CATCHING JORDAN will enjoy the same strength and style of writing, as well as a familiar romantic arc, in STEALING PARKER, but marvel at this deeper, riskier (and steamier!) sophomore effort that hits differently than its companion but doesn't disappoint.

After her family's scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.

The Art of Making Mistakes:  Why messing up is one of the most important things you can do.

I love reading reviews of my books. I always listen to what people have to say in hopes I can make my writing better. However, there’s one thing I’ll never change about my books, no matter what: I’ve seen some readers get upset when my characters make mistakes.

My characters make big mistakes and small mistakes. Some decisions have serious repercussions on the life of not only my main character, but sometimes on the lives of others.

When I was a teenager, I did some very dumb things. Like, one time my parents told me I couldn’t go to the Aerosmith concert, but I took their car and went anyway. My parents got really upset. Sure, I loved the concert, but afterwards I had to live with the guilt of hurting my parents and doing something I knew was wrong. They grounded me for a month!

Another time, I told a friend a serious lie because I thought it would impress her. She was always doing things that were “cool” and I wanted to feel cool too. I wanted her to think I was worthy of our friendship. Instead of thinking I was cool, she told a bunch of people what I said and spread the gossip about me all over school. What made it especially bad was that some people knew it wasn’t true. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. And I was sad that my “friend” wasn’t a true friend. But I learned from the mistake. I learned not to lie anymore, and I learned that true friends will love me for who I am, not what I’ve done.

When I’m writing a book, I’m not scared to have my characters screw up. If we don’t screw up, we can’t learn, and then we can’t become better people.

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.


And Miranda at her:


Elana Johnson said...

I love YA contemporary, and I need to get Stealing Parker, stat!

And what a great post. It's so true that our characters need to make mistakes and then face the consequences.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I like the sound of this YA contemporary a lot. When our characters screw up, our stories become more real. Perfect characters who don't make mistakes are a big turn off.

Stephsco said...

I didn't know until recently what Stealling Parker was about and now I'm looking forward to it even more. I think my heart is with YA contemporary--those are the stories the pull me in the most (although I did love Daughter of Smoke and Bone).

I think it's almost a compliment to hear readers say they don't like a book's characters to make mistakes. They are THAT invested in a character they don't want to see them fail. As a writer though, makes for a boring book if they don't get into a bit of trouble.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post Miranda. So agree that our characters have to make mistakes like we all do. And you're braver than me in confessing the ones you made as a teen. Looking forward to reading your books.

And Casey, so glad we got a post by an author you're super excited about.

Lisa said...

Miranda, I really enjoyed Catching Jordan, but I have a bone to pick with you over failing to mention Oregon as one of the top college teams. :P Go Ducks!

Beth said...

Great post, and the book sounds terrific. I always find it hard when my characters make mistakes, but it's essential to the story.

Stina said...

Teens make mistakes all the time (as do adults). To have teen characters do otherwise makes the story unauthentic.

I'm looking forward to reading Stealing Parker. I loved Catching Jordan. I couldn't put it down.

Angela Brown said...

It's interesting. Mistakes occur and the best part about them is that there is a lesson to learn from it. One of the things about writing is story is having that "thing" that the MC has to go through. Mistakes are a part of life and so yeah, they should definitely be a part of our writing within the realm of our character's lives.

Helena Carlo said...

I agree. We all make mistakes, regardless of age. I love seeing how the author puts their character through their paces, and watch the story unfold as they work their way out of the mess. Great post!

Christina Farley said...

I love this perspective. It's so important to think of our mistakes as building blocks for the future successes.

Christina Lee said...

Ooooh Catching Jordan is waiting on my Kindle and now I am SO curious about Stealing Parker, too! Great advice, Miranda!