BLOG TOUR [Guest Post] The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers

Friday, September 05, 2014

I am so excited to have Alice Kuipers on the blog today. She is the author of many amazing YA book that include: 40 Things I Want to Tell You, My Life on the Refrigerator Door and of course her newest novel, The Death of Us!

if you would like to know how much I LOVED The Death of Us, I posted my review earlier today and you can find it HERE. But right now I would like to give the floor to Alice as she answers a question I have wanted to pose for so long; Are there struggles of creating relatable characters in the contemporary genre? And how her character development process changes with every book! Take it away Alice:

Hi Siobhan,

Thanks for hosting me as part of the blog tour. I love the title of your blog and I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews for a while, so I’m very happy to be stopping by. Here goes:

Making relatable characters is one of the challenges for any writer. I write contemporary, realistic fiction. But if I wrote fantasy or romance or sci-fi or anything else, I think the struggles with character would be just the same. Characters need to feel real to a reader. As real as they do to the writer. I just read an interview with Ellen Hopkins where she said:

I don’t feel like I go “into” my head to write. I feel like I channel the characters living inside me. So process is about clearing the way for them to talk and allow me to write their stories. My characters really are living, breathing, hurting, loving people to me, and putting them on the page always attracts the light that fights darkness. There’s all kinds of hope in that, and it’s something my readers I find her words very powerful and true here. The characters I choose to write are very real to me. This notion that they are living, breathing, hurting, loving people is a beautifully articulate way of saying: people who don’t exist speak to me and make themselves come into existence.

With my first novel, Claire and her mother sprang into life when the title popped into my head. I can still conjour them now from the quiet place they’ve gone to. I could hear Claire vividly in every note she wrote, even though I was the one writing the notes. Her mother was just as clear. In my second novel, I used first person and Sophie’s diary flowed onto the page. It wasn’t the case that I didn’t have to edit. I absolutely did have to go back over and make her as real as she insisted on being. But I remember waking in the night and hearing her story come to life. It sounds COMPLETELY CRAZY. I think that’s why writers have to spend a lot of time on their own. Because it is completely bizarre to invent people who feel so real that you can’t stop yourself writing about them. But it’s wildly fun too.

With my third book 40 Things I Want To Tell You, Amy’s controlling nature basically wrote the book. When Ellen Hopkins talks about clearing the way for letting the characters talk, I really remember that for the writing process of 40 Things. In the first draft I started way too late in the story and I had to do a big rewrite where I gave Amy space and time to really show who she was as she navigated all the tension and drama of her choices. are drawn to.

In my newest novel, The Death of Us, I realized that three characters wanted to tell this story. Shifting perspectives was difficult when I put too much of myself into the way of the storytelling. But once I got to know each character and trusted their words, the story became much easier to write. And much, much more fun. In the end, I had a lot of fun writing such a complicated story. It seems to me that I like to set myself difficult tasks and then relax – with coffee – and write, write, write.

The process for me as a writer involves a lot of mis-steps. I write thousands of words I can’t ever use, but those words are always a pleasure to write, even if cutting them later is painful. It’s not the smartest writing process, but I’ve come to accept it. And I’ve come to love each of my characters. I enjoy interviewing them, and reading their words aloud later to make sure I’ve got their voices right. As I’ve written each book, there have been moments where I’ve really had to listen. I’ve had to make sure all other distractions were out of the way so I could truly hear what my characters had to say.

That part of the process really is crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thank you so much Alice! Please go pick up The Death of Us, it is such a great read for everyone, and I highly recommend it!

About The Author

ALICE KUIPERS is the bestselling, award-winning author of three previous novels, Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Worst Thing She Ever Did and 40 Things I Want To Tell You, and the picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best-Ever Bookworm Book. Her work has been published to critical acclaim in twenty-nine countries. She lives in Saskatoon. Find her here:

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