It is a delight to shine the spotlight on Lisa Kline and her latest book, One Week of You (Blue Crow Publishing). I know you will be as intrigued as I am about Lisa’s writing process and how her plot elements morphed over time. Her essay is a valuable reminder that we don’t always have to go far afield to find ideas for our books; sometimes the ones that most speak to us are those that we or our loved ones have experienced. Please read on to learn more about Lisa Kline and her process.
Thank you, Kirby, for inviting me to participate in Friend Friday. I have loved reading other posts to learn about the seeds for other writers’ stories. So many other writers have combined both real and fictional elements for their stories, and mine is that way, too.
One Week of You (Blue Crow Publishing) began with several events that actually happened. First, when our oldest daughter was in middle school, she had to carry a flour baby for a week for her health class. Carrying the bag of flour was supposed to give the student a feeling of responsibility similar to caring for a baby. This unit in the curriculum captured my imagination. How did the students feel about having to carry these bags of flour around? Second, a few years later, our younger daughter experienced a week in high school in which there were three bomb threats. I admired the stoic way the students navigated that scary and chaotic week, as well as the way the school handled it, and I wanted to write about it. At some point, I decided to try and combine the two events into one story – what if there was a week of bomb threats at the same time my main character was carrying her flour baby? From a writing standpoint, I felt this was a challenge because one storyline was deeply serious and the other was lighter, more comic. Could I successfully combine the two? I also added a romance to the mix – mostly because, like many people, I can still vividly remember those feelings as a teen when I had my first crush.
As the story evolved through many revisions, the bomb threats were changed to April Fools’ pranks being played by the students, giving the entire story a lighter tone.
And another theme that slowly emerged, as the revisions continued, was the idea of personal responsibility versus peer pressure for this age group. What would happen if my main character thought she knew who was pulling the pranks? Would she turn the person in? This introduced the elements of a mystery to the story as well, and in later revisions I had to layer in red herrings for the reader, so that every reader might have one person or another that they suspect might be doing the pranks.
Another issue that emerged, as I continued to work on the story, was that characters that I had originally thought of as “good guys” turned out not to be so good. And characters that I had originally thought of as “bad guys” turned out not to be so bad. It was a lot like getting to know people better in real life.
I’ve written nine other books, and this one probably went through more revisions than any other simply because there are so many different interwoven elements. I kept revising and rethinking, though; I did not want to give up on this story. I had so much affection for Lizzy, her older brother Ryan, and her crush Andy that I just wanted to give this book the best chance I could. I was thrilled when the editors at Blue Crow wrote and told me they loved Lizzy and her story.
I hope young readers love it, too.
Lisa Williams Kline is the author of nine novels for young people, including the five-book Sisters in All Seasons series (Zondervan) and Eleanor Hill (Carus), which won the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award. She holds a masters degree in Radio, Television, and Film from UNC-Chapel Hill, and an MFA from Queens University. She has served as president of the Charlotte Writers’ Club, is a former board member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, is a mentor in the SCBWI Mentor Program, and critiques manuscripts for Writers’ Digest. She lives in North Carolina.
Wonderful post, Lisa. I truly enjoyed reading ONE WEEK OF YOU!