It’s my pleasure to have another Valentine on the blog today–Jaye Robin Brown. Jaye, better known as Jro, has written an amazing-sounding contemporary book called NO PLACE TO FALL which releases in December and is about a girl named Amber Vaughn. It’s about a typical good girl facing tragedy, first love and the realization that she needs to chase her dreams to make them come true, but nothing about this book is typical.
No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown — Publication Date: December 9th, 2014
Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.
When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.
Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.
Jaye Robin Brown: Why Contemporary?
When I started writing, I never sat down and said “hmmm, let me think, I’ll write contemporary fiction.” In fact, the first couple of novels I wrote weren’t. But as my writing grew, my story ideas didn’t come in the form of genies or magical lands, they came in the form of real life situations.
So what draws me to this genre? I think it’s all of the what-if possibilities. What if a sheltered boy went off to boarding school and fell in love with a chain-smoking troubled girl? What if a girl wrote scraps of poetry on trash and left them to be found? What if a senator’s daughter fell in love with the boy-next-door, the one who didn’t meet the senator’s approval? (bonus points if you can name these three contemporary novels!)
For me, writing contemporary stories is like weaving a big tapestry of life. You look around and take all these seemingly disparate elements—because people are complex, yo—and make them fit somehow. It’s also a chance to take on new hobbies, or new talents, even a new part-time job. As the author, you choose elements that both fit your character, but that also have interest to you.
In a novel that is still in my head, I have a character who I know is going to have a mild obsession with elephants. I could have chosen World War II fighter jets, what matters for this character is the obsession more so than the object of said obsession. As the author, it makes sense to choose something you’re going to be happy and interested in researching. Yes, you can do this in fantasy novels or science fiction, but I think the rules of your world are more constricting. In contemporary, there really aren’t rules. If it’s happening in our time, it’s all fodder for the novel.
The other part of writing contemporary fiction that I adore is the emotion. Unlike plot heavy novels, contemporary can be quieter and more internal. In young adult contemporary you get to play with all of the complex emotions of life—love, grief, anger, betrayal, caring—but are freed from the drudgery of adult responsibility. It’s a chance to really get in there and feel. It’s the opportunity to look at cause and reaction and see the ripple spread out to the people around us. And because, oftentimes, these moments are firsts for our protagonists, everything is heightened in a brutally delicious way.
Do I ever see myself writing anything other than contemporary? Sure. As writers we write and just like musicians who want to try out different styles and genres, writers like to play around, too. But contemporary fiction will always feel like home to me. It’s the place where my voice works, where the story ideas spark, and the words come freely.
I have always loved fantasy and I’m pretty sure I will continue to love it well into the future. It’s what I write, but I’ve also got a contemporary lined up that I’m eager to tackle. I love this guest post from Jaye and I think it says a lot about writing what you want to write, as if no one is ever going to see it. Thanks so much to Jaye for doing this post!
Find NO PLACE TO FALL:
Connect with Jaye:
Her debut young adult novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, comes out in the fall of 2014 from Harper Teen. It’s about dreams, singing, friendship, love, betrayal, family, and mistakes. It’s also a love song to small town girls and mountain music, both of which shape the area that Jaye now calls home.