Sunday, May 29, 2016

WRITING THE YOUNG ADULT THRILLER

(Confessions of a Pathological Liar)

Jennifer Garner filmed a recruitment video for the CIA 


by Sonja Stone
young adult thriller
Currently, I’m the only Rogue Woman writing young adult fiction, which makes me feel a bit like the little sister. I think it’s fitting; if you’ve read our bios, you might agree. Our group boasts ex-CIA, ex-NSA, several lawyers and journalists, NYT best-selling authors, an ex-anchorwoman and highest ranking woman in The White House, and me: a former pastry chef (but, oh! the things I can do with sugar).

Why I Write:

I don't play well with others. Engaging in social niceties exhausts me. I discovered that when I’m alone with my computer, people assume I’m doing something important and they leave me alone. Some writers have no choice but to write: inside brews a story that demands to see the light of day. My motives aren’t nearly as noble.

I became a writer because I'm an introvert. 

(The hilarious irony of introvert-turned-writer is that writing is but a small part of being an author. The rest of it—talks, signings, shameless self-promotion—requires me to act like an extrovert. So if you ever attend one of my events and I look absolutely stricken to meet you, please please know this: It's not you, it's me.)

This isn't to say that I don't like people—I do. Very much. I just don't like being with other people. If you’re an introvert, you know where I’m coming from. If you’re an extrovert, let me illustrate a conversation from an introvert’s perspective.

Conversation Between Two Introverts:

Introvert 1: Oh my gosh, it's so good to see you! I miss you! We should get together for coffee or lunch or something!

Introvert 2: That sounds fantastic! I would love to! Let's do it!

The Aftermath: The two friends part ways feeling very socially connected. Neither has any intention of making an effort to follow through on the plan, but both feel warmly toward themselves and the other.

Conversation Between an Introvert and an Extrovert:

Extrovert: Oh my gosh, it's so good to see you! I miss you! We should get together for coffee or lunch or something!

Introvert: That sounds fantastic! I would love to! Let's do it!

Extrovert: Great! What about tonight?

Introvert: (starts to panic) Wha--tonight? Oh, I can't tonight. I uh...

Extrovert: Tomorrow then! Dinner and a movie.

Introvert: (curses herself for not hiding when she saw her friend) Tomorrow. I actually have a thing tomorrow.

Extrovert: All day?

Introvert: Yup, all day.

Extrovert: Saturday. I’ll meet you at noon. Put it on your calendar.

The Aftermath: Extrovert looks forward to lunch with friend, introvert spends the next three days pissed off that she's been pressured into a social engagement. Countless excuses are workshopped. If lucky, a major disaster—preferably an act of God so the introvert will in no way be linked to the disaster—will occur and the roads will be closed/phone lines down. Texting is okay, so hopefully that service will still be available. That way she can communicate without actually speaking. And on her own time.

Why I Write Young Adult:

I write for teenagers because I think like a teenager. I have SLIGHTLY better impulse control, but that’s only because I’ve been working on it for a few decades. I have the attention span of a gnat.  When my kids offer the excuse, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” I understand. And I have the tattoo to prove it.

I like cooking up lies and letting my characters suffer the consequences, spending days at my desk formulating (what I’m sure is) witty banter. And I almost always think I’m funny.

Why I Write Young Adult Thrillers:

http://themetapicture.com/difference-between-friends-and-best-friends/For the most part, I prefer action to conversation. I’m not always easy to get along with (no surprise there, right?), but if we do manage to forge a friendship, here's something you should know about me: 

I'm a bury-the-body kind of friend. 
You call me up, tell me you've got a situation, I'm not gonna ask a lot of questions. I'm searching the GPS for a remote patch of land and throwing my work gloves in the back of the SUV.
So despite my apparent inability to engage in normal human interactions, I’m great for those times when you need help with the heavy lifting. I won’t ever spill your secrets (that would involve talking to someone). Eventually, however, I will want to hear about WHY we just buried your ex in the desert. I love exploring behavioral motivations: altruistic, nefarious, benign; it's all fascinating.

Which is why I love the thriller genre.

Want more? Stalk me here: www.sonjastone.com

How do you land on the introvert/extrovert scale? Have you ever found yourself thrust into the world despite your best efforts to remain delightfully isolated? Or are you one of those people--the kind who come alive in a crowd (and what's that like?)? 

Best Friend photo credit: http://themetapicture.com/difference-between-friends-and-best-friends/

20 comments:

  1. omg, Sonja, you so described me, too! We r writers! Aargh. I loved this: "So despite my apparent inability to engage in normal human interactions, I’m great for those times when you need help with the heavy lifting. I won’t ever spill your secrets (that would involve talking to someone). Eventually, however, I will want to hear about WHY we just buried your ex in the desert. I love exploring behavioral motivations: altruistic, nefarious, benign; it's all fascinating." Brava!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love your description of the inner workings of the writer, and the conversations between introverts and extroverts. The thing about being a writer in the modern age, to me, is that we don't have the luxury of just sitting at our computers writing.That's the easy part. We have to sell our books -and ourselves - at conferences, at bookstores, at events. And that gets back to the fascination with spies - because when we writers are out selling ourselves, we're playing a role, much like the spies in some of our novels have to play a role in order to achieve their goals.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gayle, I'm so glad it's not just me! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sandy, that's such a great point. The spy's ability to adapt, to compartmentalize, to become their legend is a big part of the fascination and draw of espionage. Maybe Francine can give me a few tips!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Haha I relate to this!! Took me a while to figure out it was a dead person being carried and not a drunk, lol. Love your writing, very funny!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Anon, dead or drunk, I'll help dispose of the evidence. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am SUCH an introvert, Sonja, that whenever I attend a writer's conference I experience profound Conference Fatigue, which involves aching facial muscles, a rapid heartbeat, and frequent recourse to wine. I love the internet, because it allows me to feel that I'm close to myriad people merely by typing things to them, rather than seeing them more than once a year. I tried to write about this in THE CUTOUT, because while an analyst at the Agency I learned that they recruit using the Myers-Briggs Personality Index: most analysts are INTJs (like me), while most case officers--the charismatic types who have to seduce sources for survival--are raging extroverts. I think this is one reason intelligence organizations are sometimes internally dysfunctional--but maybe that's a different post. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Francine, I love the description of Conference Fatigue! I'm an INTP; I'm certain that's the only reason the CIA hasn't yet approached me. ;) I'm adding THE CUTOUT to my "to be read" pile as we speak! Whew. Enough socializing.

      Delete
  8. Sonja, you sure nailed the writer=introvert connection. Although I love people, I also need time alone to restore my energy. Can't wait to see you at ThrillerFest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KJ, this really surprises me, because you absolutely get my vote for the Miss Congeniality award of the rogue women! You seem to know everyone--and connect people together so graciously!

      Delete
    2. Well, thank you for the kind words. I absolutely adore meeting people, but I truly need alone time. 😄 Or I would never get any writing done.

      Delete
  9. I think it'd be interesting to compare our Meyers-Briggs results! Introverted thinker. Extroverted emotionally. Intuitive. Perceptive. Apparently my score was identical for thinking/feeling. Made my shrink crazy. That was fun!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gayle, what a great idea! Sounds like you could pass for an INTP or an ENFP.

    KJ, that's very true! I don't write well with background voices. I like to focus on the ones in my head. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have no idea what I am according to Myers-Briggs. I am an only child and I love to be alone. And I absolutely have to have a space I can call my own--an office, a craft room--a place where I can go and disappear. But because of my mother (a VP of Community Affairs for Gannett Broadcasting), I learned by a very young age how to be gregarious. I too suffer from "Conference Fatigue," but I also am at times energized by a crowd. I think I must be an Ambivert,"a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features".

    ReplyDelete
  12. Chris, if you have a few minutes, check out 16personalities.com. It's a free, abbreviated Myers-Briggs, and I found that my results were the same as the paid (full) test.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Perfect explanation of introverts vs. Extroverts! I'm an extrovert, and once someone says "we should get together" I'm whipping out my planner and suggesting dates. Always wondered why some people look frightened as I did. Now I know! Have you read the book Quiet The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking? I bet you'd love it. (And inadvertently deleted above comment-sorry). Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jamie, that's so funny! Seriously, as an introvert, I like the idea of socializing, but I don't necessarily want it to go any further. I have a few extroverted friends and I'm always conflicted when I run into them--I know they'll insist on pinning down an actual date to get together. I'm like, "but I'm seeing you now."

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sonja, that was so interesting. I ended up 51% introverted and 49% Extraverted. Translating to Myers-Briggs I would be an INFJ with my identity listed as 80% Turbulent. Must be the Gemini in me. Thanks for sharing the link. Fascinating!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Chris, I'm glad you found the link. I'm not surprised you're so close on the introvert/extrovert portion of the test. Or that you're a Gemini! I had no idea that we (the rogue women) were so close personality-wise. Francine's an INTJ, Gayle's an INTP/ENFP, I'm an INTP, and you're an INFJ. We'll need to get Sandy, Karna, KJ and Jamie to take the test. Jamie's an extrovert, but I suppose most writers fall onto the introvert side of the scale.

    I'm curious about our fans. We should do a post on this and see where the READERS of thriller novels fall!

    ReplyDelete