Let’s first get this out there. I’m an adult who loves to read YA. I know there was a big controversy not too long ago about how horrible it is for adults to read YA, but I’ve already been quite public about my disagreement with that assertion. (Click here for an example of how I feel about this.) And as a writer who likes to read YA, it only follows that I might also like to write YA. And so I did.
One day a couple of years ago, I went to a high school marching band concert where some of my former students were performing. This concert actually only included the percussion part of the band, so drums, keyboard, and my personal favorite—the mallet players. Mallet players play the instruments that look like big xylophones, and that sit at the front of the field since they aren’t exactly easily moved about.
I sat at the concert mesmerized by two things. First, those mallet players! Watching those mallets fly about hitting the right notes every time seemed so magical. The people playing them were obviously very talented. I couldn’t take my eyes, or ears, off of them.
The second thing that mesmerized me occurred during the in-between times of the concert, when one school would finish and move off of the floor, and the next would set up. The interactions between the band members was so much fun to watch. These young men and woman loved what they did so much, and it seemed to infuse their relationships with one another. They seemed to genuinely and deeply like and respect each other. There was a feeling of camaraderie and community that isn’t always present in large groups of high school students. I suddenly wanted to be in high school again, but this time I’d be in the marching band instead of theater.
Watching them got me to thinking. (Writers do a lot of watching and thinking.) A novel about a tight group of high school marching band members would be so much fun to write. But I needed a setting and conflict. So I took a page from my own life and put a little twist on it.
I made Olivia, my mallet player, move from one state to another just before her senior year of high school. The cities would have to be radically different from one another so as to make her need to rely on who she REALLY is, not who she thinks she needs to be to fit in. When I was in the middle of my junior year my family moved from Huntington Beach, California to Portland, Oregon. So I switched that up and moved Olivia from Portland to Huntington Beach. I can’t imagine two more different places. Today Portland is known for its “weirdness” and hipster vibe. Huntington Beach is Surf City, USA. For a girl in a marching band to move from hipster weirdness to the cool surfer town would be a challenging task—to say the least!
First, she would need to find her place in this new world she is plunked down in. That couldn’t be too easy. There’d be stumbling blocks along the way. Some pain. Some angst. (All things I remember all too well from my own experience!)
But, what if she eventually figures out the truth? The truth of how to find a new life in a new place. And new friends. And maybe a cute guy who makes her heart beat some strange rhythms. And somehow learns how to do all of this without forgetting her roots in her hometown.
Of course being in the marching band would have to play a significant role in her ability to find her way in an alien new land.
In writing Band Geeks and Riptides, I created some of my all-time favorite characters. Olivia, Drew, Shelby, Hunter, Grace, and Sean feel like real people to me. I love them, and I hope readers of Band Geeks will too.
If you are interested in reading Band Geeks and Riptides you can get the ebook from Amazon HERE. You can read it on any device with the FREE Kindle App!