Recently a couple folks from Twisted Sister had an opportunity to attend a writing workshop with Canadian writer and New York Times best selling author, Kelley Armstrong.
When your jaw settles back into place, you can check out the discussion here.
After talking about the craft and business of writing, Kelley kindly offered opportunities to chat and purchase some of her books. She explained how she was creating age-appropriate books for her own kids to read, and that her daughter wasn’t allowed to read Bitten until she turned sixteen.
As her own children started asking for her to write them books, Kelley entered in the middle grade and YA market with thrillers and fantasies appropriate to the age groups. (And truthfully, I wish there was someone like Kelley Armstrong around when I was a kid, The Hobbit’s a bit heavy to read when you’re ten.)
I picked up her young adult novel The Masked Truth (2015) and read it immediately after the workshop.
And I mean immediately (after driving home of course), I was up all night reading it, and for the first time in a long time I had something I just couldn’t put down.
Yes, this is a book for young adults, and the main characters are teenagers (seventeen and eighteen, although the feel slightly younger), the relationships they form are real.
Kelley takes us through the usual twists and turns of a fast-paced thriller, with all the red herrings and false leads you can expect (or not). But what I loved most were her characters, featuring a nicely diverse range of teens with mental health issues, including Max, a teen recently diagnosed with schizophrenia.
And it was the chapters told through Max’s eyes that made the story for me. I loved seeing his thought flit in a disorganized fashion, bursts and pops of static, and insight and genius combined.
In taking an unlikely story (a thriller) and inserting teens as actors (even more unlikely that they’d be taking down bad guys single-handed) and creating believable characters – people that I’d love to meet, and spend time with, Kelley made this book real for me.
So, if you want to pick up a book on character, pacing, and creating tension, give The Masked Truth a read. Sure, the intended audience might be for kids, but the lessons in it are for all writers.
For our reviews of Kelley Armstrong’s work and more of her advice on writing, be sure to check out: