I completed my first piece of research yesterday.
I recently attended a Speculative Fiction course hosted by Pamela Freeman at the NSW Writers’ Centre, and on Pamela’s recommendation I read “Claire de Lune” by Christine Johnson. It is Speculative Fiction aimed at Young Adults and can be categorised as Urban Fantasy. I am reading Young Adult for a couple of reasons; firstly, in order to succeed in my journey to being a writer I must expand my reading genres, so it is a start; secondly, the book I am aiming to have published by the time I am forty (countdown currently 1140 days!) falls into those categories, so I am reading in the genre I am writing.
I began somewhat sceptical I was going to enjoy it, but despite that I was actually excited. After reading the back cover I sheepishly admit to rolling my eyes and chuckling, confident that I had a fair idea of the content but in a positive frame of mind; being committed to putting in the work required to become an author, I am embracing this part of the journey.
I read out some sentences to my wife, mostly ones that confirmed my assumptions regarding content; sentences relating to particularly angsty bits, or where the dialogue of the teenaged protagonists heavily favoured words like: ‘like’, ‘stuff’, and ‘whatever’, and whatever. My self-righteous smarty-pants attitude soon backfired when my wife pointedly remarked, “You’re actually enjoying that book, you know?” Disbelieving, I scoffed, but as I continued reading them out, my wife kept saying it and I finally realised it was true! My pride gradually abated and I accepted the fact that I was enjoying a romantic novel aimed at twelve to fifteen year old girls. Having werewolves in it let me clutch on to one last vestige of prideful defence.
I understand why Pamela recommended it; apart from a good plotline Christine Johnson has created balance across the story’s elements; there wasn’t so much of any one component that it overshadowed the others. The clever weighting of the romantic, angsty and suspenseful elements, a couple of cleverly delivered red-herrings and the interesting take she has on the back history of the werewolves themselves, all made for a very enjoyable read.
Well, from a technical standpoint, I learned the importance of World-Building through my appreciation for the manner in which the werewolves fit in to the world the author has built and the way werewolves come about.
I also learned a lot about the genre (not that I’m going to stop at one book, of course). I have also experienced reading outside my preferred reading comfort zones and being entertained.
Additionally, most importantly I think, I have taken another small step on the road to my goal and I now appreciate that anything that feels like a win, no matter how small, anything at all that makes you feel like you are making progress, is an invaluable experience, and I thought that was worth sharing.