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Today's stop on the blog tour features an interview with S.R. Johannes, author of On The Bright Side about the significance of dead people in YA and tween books. Interesting topic, right? I think so, too :)
S.R. Johannes is the author of Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and On The Bright Side ( a tween paranormal). She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes-someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.
I See Dead People
What's your opinion on the effectiveness of MCs who are already dead?
I think having an MC who is dead has its pros and cons.
It's good because you can expand beyond the normal boundaries of what we know as humans. You can write your own rules and when you break them, it is more acceptable.
It's hard because you have to make your "dead" person relatable. We haven't been dead so we can't relate to that. So you have to find a way to allow the reader to connect to the dead person through experiences they know as humans.
What was your approach to it in On the Bright Side?
One thing that was very important to me was making a funny book about death. Sick right? All the angel books are dark and depressing. I wanted to see the happy side of death. If there is one.
I also wanted to step away from religion so everyone could enjoy the book without any preconceived notions. So I created a world from scratch and made it a cool city that was hip and fun. To better connect with tween readers, I added cool gadgets, great fashion, and tackled the universal theme of friendship and acceptance.
With fear of death being a big motivator for a lot of high-stakes YA books, how do you maintain that same sort of tension with an already dead character?
I think the fear of death is in the unknown. But since we haven't died, we don't know what is in the afterlife. We know we can't see it and we probably can't control it. So the fear of dying transfers to the fear of the unknown. The "not knowing" keeps the tension going and keeps readers questioning what is going to happen. I hope.
What's your favorite sort of 'dead' character group to write/read about (ghosts, newly made angels, zombies, some vampires even, etc).
Well I can't write about zombies because they don't say or feel anything. Blood makes me queasy. So I would have to say angels or ghosts. But ghosts can be creepy. I like angels because we think of them as purely good creatures so it is fun to investigate the question – what if they aren't perfect? We can all relate to the feeling of trying to be perfect, being expected to be perfect, and failing.
Thanks so much, Shelli, for stopping by. I loved your answers! ♥
About the Book
On The Bright Side by S.R. Johannes
As if the devil's food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she's stuck wearing for eternity weren't bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby's arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.
Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby's crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby's pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby's help.
Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother's grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby's not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.
Praise for On The Bright Side:
"Clever and charming, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is the story of a reluctant guardian angel, her still-breathing crush, and the frenemy she’s assigned to protect. A great read!"
-Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful, A Want So Wicket (6/12), and The Program (2013)
"With a smart, snappy heroine and a heart-warming crush, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is a page-turning new take on guardian angels that left me begging for a sequel!"
- Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess and Ten (9/12) (Balzar + Bray)
How to Buy:
Paperback will be available in Feb.
To buy the Kindle ebook - The ebook is $2.99 and can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (Currently available for $0.99 so don't miss out!)
Have a great weekend, all! ♥