In this and subsequent posts I am going to show how my young adult novel, The Halls of Abaddon, came to be. Hopefully in the process, I will be able to share with you the joys (and sometimes frustrations) of working directly with teens in the development of a young adult novel.
Identify a school with an open door policy that welcomes non-teaching staff to work directly with students.
In 2012, I found that school in Leonides Morales Rodriguez, the local high school in Lajas, Puerto Rico. Not without some trepidation, I made an appointment with the director and requested permission to interview students for my not-as-yet started young adult novel, Dante’s Kiss. Mr. Molina, the principal, welcomed me with open arms. Immediately after hearing about my project, he introduced me to the 12th grade advanced English teacher, Mrs. Cynthia Delgado. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have been working with Mrs. Delgado and her students for five years now.
That first year, I talked to dozens of students. I needed to. I was seventeen + (++) years away from my own high school experience. Also, I was writing a book set in a Puerto Rican high school, which—as I have seen over the last five years—is light years away from my experience in Wethersfield High School. If I had gone to high school in Lajas Puerto Rico instead of Wethersfield Connecticut, I probably wouldn’t be a writer now. Not because writing support is limited in the Lajas public school district—it is—but because I would not have been bullied. Kids are actually tolerant here. Chubby nerds like me are not made to feel inferior or odd—all the makings of a writer, in my particular case.
Why do I start so far back in my journey to the making of the Halls of Abaddon, my second YA book? Because five years ago, I was starting the groundwork for what I have today. An open door to the school, an enthusiastic, supportive teacher, and a wonderful student body that has come to trust me through the experiences of their older siblings. My work over the last five years has formed the building block to a dynamic, creative relationship with the students of Leonides Morales Rodriguez today. And that relationship has given authenticity, urgency, and plenty of teen angst to my creative process.
How many of you have found creativity and inspiration through the young people you work with?
For Step Two Click Here: The Making of a Young Adult Novel: Teen Issues Survey