First daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned for Friday night. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute-citing security breach and squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is being “safe and secure” if you can’t have any fun?
Audrey is ready to give up and become a White House hermit, until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former first daughter gives Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun…and more problems than she can handle. (description taken from Goodreads).
When I first heard about WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE, it immediately became one of my most anticipated middle-grade picks of 2014 and eventually ended up as my third Waiting on Wednesday. Today, I’ve got Rebecca Behrens here to talk about her writing and WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE with me!
I did tons of research for WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE: on past and present life in the White House and the experiences of modern-day First Kids, and on Alice Roosevelt’s real life. I did much of my research the old-fashioned way: reading library books and online resources. But I also went on a White House tour, which was both extremely helpful and extremely fun.
I wanted Audrey to be a character that middle-grade readers could really connect with, so I tried to make her voice realistic and engaging. Her voice came very naturally to me, although I did write the first draft of the book in third person–so I guess it came easily to me on the second try.I had plenty of quotes from the real Alice Roosevelt to help me get an idea of what her voice might have been life. But the Alice in my book is definitely a fictional creation. It was a delicate balance to make her diary entries plausible for her time period and still accessible and fun for young readers today.
Alice Roosevelt was full of surprises–both the real person, and my character. She was a very complicated, and fascinating, person. I kind of expected her to be an extremely confident person, given her antics and her upbringing. But the more research I did, the more I found that her experience of being a teenager was the same as everyone else’s: full of insecurity, angst, heartbreak, and humor. It was challenging, but also really fun, to try to take the details of her real life and turn them into a character.
I loved writing the scene when Audrey takes the golf cart for an ill-fated spin. It was fun to write the action in it–and I think it’s interesting to compare how Alice, who was a First Daughter in a much more restrictive time period, had so much more ease with her driving shenanigans.
At this point, I think Audrey’s story is at a nice stopping point. I do have an idea for a companion novel about both characters, but so far no plans to write it. Never say never, though!
WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE involved a lot of writing what I didn’t know, at least firsthand. I do have another work-in-progress that draws on a lot of the metalwork art and jewelry-making I did as a teenager, though.
I’m more of a planner. I have to know where a story is going before I can start it, and I like writing with a fairly detailed outline–it gives me courage to face the blank page! But my plans always change while I’m writing, and I think it’s important to stay open to the new ideas. In my opinion, outlines work best when they are revised along the way.
The waiting! At every stage of the writing process, you have to be really patient: from drafting to revising to submission and especially during the book production phase. My next book will be coming out in Spring 2016, which feels so far away!
Read widely! We all have our favorite categories and genres, which is great, but it can be really helpful to read outside of one’s comfort zone. Every now and then, I’ll pick up nonfiction on a random topic, or an adult horror novel or a cozy mystery because those books are new to me, and I can learn a lot from reading something unfamiliar. Also, it’s a good way to find even more books to love.
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