by Connie Hullander
What a great blog you have, Donna. I appreciate the chance to add my thoughts about writing my own novel.
Snowstorm is a novel for young adults or for those who want to better understand how an angry, depressed kid might think. When the main character lands on the adolescent unit of a psychiatric hospital, she’s scared and alone, but has no intention of letting anyone know how vulnerable she feels.
Carly Blackstone is my main character, and I knew her well before I ever started to write. As a teacher, many angry or troubled kids pass through my classrooms. I also knew about the type of teenagers my husband, a psychologist, worked with for many years. With all this in mind, I cobbled together the pissed-off sixteen year-old who would battle doctors, nurses, and other kids all the way through the novel. My vision of the story and how it would all turn out were a lot less formed.
When I begin a story, I don’t always know why a particular story line appeals. I think it’s a little like understanding yourself. We choose things to buy, places to visit, or people we like without necessarily thinking about our motivations, and we don’t need to evaluate our every move. On the other hand, without a direction to the novel, it would be easy to ramble.
In thinking about what I wanted to accomplish, I realized my goal wasn’t to show how miserable life is at home for some kids. I wasn’t interested in pointing fingers. Instead, I wanted to show how Carly and the other kids could face up to the demons and make those “coming of age” decisions we all have to make.
In 1640, George Herbert published a collection of writings which included a quotation: “Living well is the best revenge.” Carly never read that citation, but it’s the lesson I wanted her to learn – and the lesson I hope some others will figure out when they read Snowstorm.
Prior to writing her first novel, she was an award-winning short story writer. Words and language are also her focus in her other occupation as a French instructor in a technical college. Through teaching in both high school and college, she gained an understanding of young adults and the challenges faced by so many of them. Connie lives with her husband in South Carolina.