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What cultural value do you see in the writing/reading/storytelling/etc?

Writing and reading are important for learning, about both ourselves and our societies. In my novels, the main character must face some sort of external challenge. She’s just an average girl, but circumstances beyond her control have put the world on her shoulders. When readers watch how she manages this challenge, they see values of strength, courage, and determination. When I write in these qualities, I wonder if I could handle the situation as well as the main character. Novels give us an opportunity, as a society, to uphold certain values (strength, selflessness) and discourage others (greed, malevolence). As readers and writers, we can test these values in impossible situations–and test ourselves to see if we would measure up.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

My dream is to see the Northern Lights, which can happen in many different places–I’ll say Alaska is where I want to go. There is so much magic in the aurora borealis, and so much science as well. I’m thinking of a concept for a book that deals with both, so that may be my next stop!

What are your reading and writing pet peeves?

I hate when authors use too many adverbs, especially in dialogue. “‘What?’ she asked sarcastically, dismissively flicking her hand.” I think the situation and dialogue should speak for the mood themselves, as much as possible. When I edit my own work, I try very hard to get rid as many adverbs as I possibly can (as many adverbs as possible).

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a good young adult story needs two things, at a minimum–internal and external drama.

Internal drama for a character can be a classic relationship struggle. I like this boy, but does he like me? Should I signal to him how I feel? Touch his hand, look at his lips? Did he just send me a signal that he likes me? Have I given my feelings away? These are all very small questions, but they’re the signals my characters need to read between the lines when dealing with a male.

Internal drama can be about something else, though, like complex relationships with parents. But my favorite internal struggles involve romantic uncertainty 🙂

For external drama, the character needs to be dealing with something bigger than herself. The tunnel caved-in around Emily, and she has to find a way to survive. Especially when she learns that the people who brought down the tunnel are trapped inside with her. Should she trust Chris? Is he mixed in with the killers? How can she keep her knowledge of their identities a secret? How can she survive? The external drama drives the main plot of the story forward, but the internal drama must be there too.

Do you work with an outline or plot or just see where an idea takes you?

A little bit of both! Generally I know where I want the plot to go when I start writing–I know the inciting incident, certain events that will follow, and the steps my main character will have to take to survive. I create an outline of the sequence of events, and then I start writing. However, almost immediately the novel decides to misbehave. I wanted Emily, my main character, to feel one way or do one thing, but she decides to do something else. Other characters in the novel jump in and interfere. And by the end, I have a novel that I couldn’t have imagined–and that is in many ways much better! 

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Trapped by Carrie Grant

Trapped by Carrie Grant

Cover courtesy Close the Cover

Synopsis:

Driving home from a high school math competition, the last thing Emily expected was to get trapped in a caved-in tunnel. Yet when the dust settles, she soon finds there’s even more going on than a math nerd could have calculated. Only a few other cars survived the cave-in, leaving her trapped with a team of plumbers, a cranky old man, a Governor, and a family of five. An older boy named Chris also managed to survive the cave-in…but his bright blue eyes seem to be watching everyone just a little too closely.

As the hours tick by and the water runs out, the survivors struggle to wait for the rescue team. But Emily had seen something just before the tunnel collapsed, something that makes her realize that this cave-in was no accident. She is trapped with the killer of hundreds of innocent people–with nearly a mile of solid rock blocking every exit.

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