It seems like the perfect time to talk about starting fresh, especially with the new Debs taking charge of The Deb Ball. Which works out well for me, as it’s precisely what I wanted to discuss in my guest post. Oh, first, thank you, Debs, for having me. I’m wearing pearls, white gloves, and a tiara as I type this, just so I’ll feel in the spirit of things. (Okay, really, I’m in pajamas with a cat draped across my lap, but I write fiction so let’s pretend.)
Though I’m not a debutante nor have I played one on TV, I am the author of THE DEBS, the first in a new young adult series from Random House that debuted last week. It features four prep school seniors in my former hometown of Houston, Texas, as they claw their way through their debutante season. Before THE DEBS, I’d authored five mysteries for the adult market in my Debutante Dropout series for Avon. Yes, yes, there does seem to be a string (of pearls, perhaps) tying these two series together. When I signed with Random House to write THE DEBS, I was told that doing a YA series and an adult mystery series weren’t that different at all. Hey, it sounded good, and I believed it. Until I actually got started.
After several revisions of THE DEBS and a few revisions of LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS (June 2009), I finally realized there’s a huge freakin’ difference between YA series and mystery series! For one thing, the mystery wraps up at the end of each book. Yes, the characters grow throughout the series, but no real plotlines are left dangling (unless you’re Janet Evanovich and end a book with a mystery dude knocking on the door). With a young adult series, you’re writing storylines that continue from book to book to book. Gulp.
Another thing I’m getting used to: mysteries are sold so differently from YA, kind of like comparing a sprint to a marathon. Being more of a sprinter—or at least, really hyper—I’m slightly freaked out by the idea of taking things slowly. “Don’t worry,” I’m told, “if readers don’t discover the series for months or even a year.” A year? (That noise you hear: it’s me, hyperventilating.)
My saving grace is the writing itself, and I’m having a ball telling tales about my DEBS: brainiac Mac, earth-friendly Ginger, larger than life Laura, and evil ex-beauty queen Jo Lynn (Boo! Hiss!). I’m channeling my inner soap opera fan and repeating the mantra of “storylines don’t die, they just morph into even more drama” as I start on Book Three. (Speaking of which, do any of y’all have title suggestions? I’m thinking right now about, GLOVES OFF, considering all the cats fights between my “good” Texas debs and their archenemies in the Bimbo Cartel).
And I’m feeling more comfortable in my new skin as a YA author and a smidge less like the bright and shiny (and clueless) New Kid. Random House is doing some really fun things to spread the word about THE DEBS as well, including having Max Media hand out pink and green Lilly Pulitzer/DEBS lipstick cases on college campuses. Plus, Lilly P is also co-sponsoring a contest where four girls can win a trip to NYC and a shopping spree at the Lilly store on Madison Avenue. How cool is that? Check out http://thedebsbooks.com for details.
In the meantime, I’m keeping my head down, my fingers on the keyboard, and my tiara firmly ensconced on my big beehive of Texas deb hair, as I quietly pray readers discover THE DEBS and fall in love with Mac, Ginger, Laura, and Jo Lynn as I have. Oh, yeah, and maybe I’ll try to remember to breathe.
Susan McBride shifts from mystery to YA with The Debs (Random House), the first in a new series and a Fall 2008 Kid’s Indie Next Pick. She’s also penned five Debutante Dropout Mysteries, including Too Pretty to Die (February, Avon). For more scoop, visit SusanMcBride.com.