Happy Friday, everyone! I’m so excited to have 2018 debut author Amy Trueblood on the blog today! Her YA historical fiction novel Nothing But Sky is coming out next month, and it is absolutely wonderful! The heroine is spunky, brave, and inspiring. The historical setting is fantastically immersive. And the story itself is addictive, gripping, and as Kirkus so accurately described it, “it’s a gas.”
In her guest post today, Amy discusses the truth about what writing YA historical fiction is really like, and she’s got some awesome insights you won’t want to miss. Check it out and be sure to get this beauty on that TBR!
“Amy Trueblood takes an overlooked page in history, folds it into an intense drama, and sends it soaring. Post World War I wing walker Grace Lafferty is the kind of spunky, stubborn heroine that will make readers feel like the sky’s the limit.”
—Stacey Lee, award winning author of OUTRUN THE MOON
A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection.
Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.
No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.
After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.
The Truth About Writing YA Historical Fiction
by Amy Trueblood
By nature I’m a fast drafter. I get an idea, roughly outline it, and then start writing. That worked great with my first few manuscripts (YA contemporary and sci-fi) but the same plan, unfortunately, could not be applied to writing my YA historical fiction debut, NOTHING BUT SKY.
Writing NBS came with a completely different set of rules. Those rules I had to learn by trial and error (emphasis on error). No longer could I sit down at the computer and type away. Every idea, every plan, had to be carefully researched. I couldn’t just say Grace sat at the diner counter and ordered a hamburger. No, I had to research what they served in restaurants in 1922 to make sure it was authentic. And here’s the truth, once you start Googling 1922 restaurant menus, you kind of fall down a long rabbit hole (LOL!)
To be honest, writing historical turned me into a daily detective. I’d outline a chapter and then highlight where I’d need to do research. Before I could write a single word, I’d open a book, or watch a video on YouTube, carefully taking notes on what I could and could not include in a scene.
Most days my work table looked like this as I sifted through mounds of pages ranging from 1922 clothing, to the interior of an early twentieth century train car, and even how a biplane would’ve been repaired. It was a process of patience and determination. At times it was frustrating, but when an idea takes hold of me I have a hard time letting go.
The most challenging part of writing NBS was creating the stunt scenes. I’m a “Type A” personality, and I had to make sure everything was perfect as far as flight terms and describing parts of the plane. But what I learned very quickly after receiving notes from beta readers was that while it’s important to be authentic, you also have to remember you’re telling a story. It took some time, and a lot of revisions, but I slowly learned to incorporate a delicate balance between authenticity and emotion.
Once NOTHING BUT SKY was finished, and I approved the final pass pages, I swore I’d never write another historical fiction manuscript. This book took years to research and went through too many rewrites to count. But here’s the funny thing, historical fiction gets into your blood. The research becomes fascinating and you find yourself, even when you’re not writing, seeking out intricate details about history. Needless to say, I’m back to writing a new YA historical fiction manuscript. Who knows what will come of it, but I have a process now and I’m hoping it will take a much shorter time to write!
A devotee of reading and writing from a very young age, Amy Trueblood grew up surrounded by books. As the youngest of five children, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite stories. After stints working in entertainment and advertising, she began writing her first manuscript and never looked back.
Her debut novel, NOTHING BUT SKY is a Spring 2018 Junior Library Guild selection and will be published March 27, 2018 by Flux.
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