Category Archives: YA lit

Mathemat-itis

Today, we’re joined by YA sci-fi author, S.C. Harvey, who I interviewed a little while back about her debut novel, Sand Castles & Seashores. She talks about her love of math and how it affects, and coincides, with her passion for writing.

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I find it funny when people are shocked to discover that I’m a writer as well as a math geek, it seems counterintuitive to some. But I think the opposite is true. There’s a lot of artistry in the field of mathematics. When you look at a mathematical proof and see it in its entirety, it’s a thing of beauty. Math isn’t just about numbers meshed together in a secret code intended to confuse the general public but a logical progression of steps and procedures in order to arrive at a solution for that problem. That goes beyond the realm of just math. It can be applied to most fields. Think of it as looking through a mathematical lens.

Before I write any story, I have firmly in place the characters. I know them inside and out, how they behave, how they react, what they would and wouldn’t do, what makes them tick. I think it’s important to the reader to see this. It’s usually seen when I do flashbacks into the character’s past just so the reader can see where the characters are coming from and what has happened to them to where they are now. A logical progression of procedures in order to arrive at a solution can be rewritten as a series of events that got them to where they are now. There should be a bell going off, (ding!), there it is.

For me, it’s fundamental that the characters are firmly established. It gives them believability and the reader can get behind them and cheer for them, if not empathize with their struggles and go on that journey with them.

Character creation is only half the equation. The other half is the story itself. I generally start by asking myself some important questions: What is the purpose of the story, thus the purpose of the characters? What is their mission? What struggles would be inherent to such a mission? What creative solution can they come up with to get them out? Why is it important to the characters to see it through? Is the journey compelling? Will this be as entertaining on paper as it is in my head? Gee, I hope so.

Because the plots are largely character driven, they’re unique to those characters. Character development is seen when I write. Each main character is morphed because of their experiences. They’ll change and grow, but not beyond recognition. I guess you can say there is a psychology to my story writing – that added depth as it were. I largely write with series in mind and so the element of depth is necessary otherwise you wouldn’t care enough to keep reading. I know I wouldn’t.

There you have it – my basic approach to writing. My belief is we can be both left and right-brained with the right attitude because the two complement each other harmoniously. And we all possess a measure of both the logical and the beautiful. Both are needed to write a good story.

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I was born during a time of unrest for Cambodia and my family fled to Thailand where we were detained. In time, we came to the United States and lived in Texas, but eventually my mother, brother and I settled in Southern California where I attended grade school and high school, which was where my love of learning began and flourished. Not long after graduation, I made my way to Massachusetts and have since married a wonderful husband. Married with one amazing daughter and a couple of cute pets, I continue to write.

Learn more about Sand Castles & Seashores and S.C. Harvey at her new Facebook page.

>Why Reading as a Teenager is Important

>My sister and I got talking recently about books we read as children. It got me thinking about what I read as a teenager and how deeply those books affected me at the time, and how so many of them have stuck with me years later. You’re developing emotionally in leaps and bounds as a teen. Pretty much everything at that time in life is an emotional experience, much more so than when you’re younger.

The books and authors I loved through those years (L.M. Montgomery, Ann Rinaldi, Sherry Garland) shaped my thinking, my perspective on life, and my writing. To some extent, reading as a teen kept me stable. The books I read were filled with teenagers experiencing similar feelings to mine. While I escaped into other worlds, time periods, and lands, reading also helped me know I wasn’t alone.

Books also kept my imagination alive and well. While television and movies do the work for you, books demand interaction. As a young writer, I was also learning in the process. I often copied the styles of writers I liked and that helped me to eventually find my own style. Just like music and dancing, reading and writing influence our development. It’s not a waste of time, and I’m always happy to see younger people reading and writing for the fun of it.

Reading doesn’t have to be a natural love to be enjoyable either. Some people just love to read straight out of the womb. I wasn’t one of them. I always loved stories but an actual love of reading didn’t come until my early teens. Part of the trick is finding the right books. If you find a book you love, you’ll be hooked and want to read more. For me, it was Anne of Green Gables. I almost finished the series in a week while on vacation with my family. Once I knew what I liked, it was just a matter of finding more books like that.

Besides Anne of Green Gables, The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi, Shadow of the Dragon by Sherry Garland, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor started a fire for me. What books influenced (or are influencing) you as a teenager?