Class is in Session

Pop quiz!

What do you think is the best part of being an author?

Having to self-promote? (No…) Getting to actually sit down & write? (Close!) Basking in my millions from royalties? (Ha, don’t make me laugh!  )

Far and away the most enjoyable part of this journey so far has been getting to meet and talk with people who have read and fallen in love with Winged Descent. I know I can write… I even know that I can write well, but to write stuff people get excited about is a whole other level of cool.

On Monday May 6th I had the pleasure of being invited to Osceola Creek Middle School in Loxahatchee, FL to discuss Winged Descent with a group of thirty-eight eighth graders who read it as a part of their reading class. Their teacher is the fabulous Mrs. Mayes who I reference on my acknowledgments page and who continues to be a loyal supporter of my endeavors. LOVE HER!

Turns out I love her students, too! I’ve never met a young adult who has read my book, so I went in to the classroom with no expectations. Within twenty minutes, we were having a lively discussion of all things wings, and I floated up to Cloud 9. While I maintain that Conner is my favorite character in the story, they almost unanimously voted for Kendrick.

Why? “Because he’s sexy,” one student called out. Well… can’t argue there!

Students who received Winged t-shirts by answering trivia questions

She got a free series t-shirt for being the first student to speak up, and after that the conversation started to flow. It was undoubtedly awesome to be able to talk about the experience of writing and publishing Winged Descent, but it was even better to hear their impressions of the novel, address questions they brought up, and listen as they mused aloud about what might happen in the sequel.

One frequent question: Would I like for the book to become a movie?

Oh, yes, yes, yes… and I’m counting on one of them to study filmmaking and directing as an adult so we can make that happen!

Another question that seemed to be burning a hole in their curious minds: Who will Savannah choose in the end? She’s already chosen… it’s Kendrick. (That’s no spoiler, it’s just a fact.) We just have to get her back to Centaura so she can be with him. And yes, we’ll go to Centaura in the sequel. In fact, we’ll visit Lapithia, as well!

It always amazes me when readers bring up questions that I never thought of. I should probably have a ready answer for everything, but the truth is I get stumped, too! Those questions are the best, though, because they open the floor for debate.

An example: Is there a Lapith leader on Lapithia?

In my mind, no. I picture Lapithia as a former democratic society that went downhill. Currently they do not have a leader that can regain control of their failing country/planet/whatever-you-want-to-refer-to-it-as. Remember that Timoreo is mentioned as the terrorist group Landon is a part of in Winged Descent… it will be explained more in the sequel, but Timoreo is a force to be reckoned with. And even though it appears that Landon is an important Lapith leader—he’s really not. He’s more of a tool of said terrorist group.

with Mrs. Delores Mayes, teacher extraordinaire

One student wanted to know—assuming Centaurs & Lapiths find a way to settle their differences & come together in the end—what will children born to this new mixed race be called?

Never thought of it! This student suggested CenLaps, which made me smile, but in all honesty I think they would drop their former names and embrace what unites them—the fact that they are both Apollo’s descendants. So I think I’m leaning toward something with his name in the word if I decide to name them at all. Great question!

This one has come up in the past and continues to surprise me: Is Savannah a supernatural creature? The response on the tip of my tongue is always, “do you want her to be?” A lot of readers seem to feel that there must be something “in” her to draw these supernatural beings to her. Or that it would just make a really good plot twist if she turned out to be something other than human. I agree with them—it would be a great twist. However, she is human & I plan to keep her that way. There needs to be a tether to the real world in the midst of all the fantasy.

How about this one: Why did the Lapiths torture Fidel’s wife? I think several answers could apply here. They could have done it to send a message to the centaurs, they could have done it simply to be spiteful, or they could have done it out of jealousy that the centaurs have some tangible claim on Earth. I think my intent in writing that scene was for the Lapiths to target Kendrick more than Fidel & punish him & the other half-bloods for coming to Earth. Remember, Lapithia is a dying planet (because of war & natural decay) and it is partly out of necessity that the Lapiths are on Earth. They feel extremely territorial and are threatened when they find out Centaurans are there, too.

One astute reader asked how I thought to write the book from multiple perspectives. So glad this was asked because it gave me a chance to talk about the fabulous Jodi PIcoult who inspired me to try out this style of writing! (If you haven’t read her books then exit out of this screen right now & go download “The Pact”.  ) When I started Winged Descent I decided I wanted to give all three main characters a voice. That’s it. Looking back, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. If you’ve read Winged Decision, you know that I can’t resist from letting other characters speak their mind at times. In my opinion, it makes for a richer story.

And finally… a big hug for the reader who asked this question: Is Fidel going to die?

I’m so glad someone out there is concerned for him like I am! Can you believe that as the author of this series I actually worry about this sometimes? The only answer I can give is, “I hope not!” Those who know me know that I don’t plan my deaths before they happen. If—as a storyline develops—it turns out to be the logical end to that character’s journey for him/her to die, I have to “let” it happen. But I love Fidel dearly & will be trying my darndest to keep him safe. However, I can tell you he is going to have a VERY rough time of it in the sequel.

After our discussion, I became a rock star for a few minutes & had my head swell when I was asked for autographs. Always a mind-boggling experience… Hope it’s worth something someday, guys!

Several students received copies of the prequel! Woohoo!

I left the school that day with a spring in my step & hope bubbling in my chest. There are fewer things more exciting than a group of young people who are stoked about reading. Hearing a classroom full of students talk passionately about the written word makes me a incredibly optimistic about the future of this technology-fueled generation. So a huge THANK YOU to this special class for giving me this experience!

I wish you all the best, I encourage you to keep reading, & I sincerely hope you’ll write to me with your thoughts regarding the prequel/sequel or if ever you have any questions about the writing industry. My email box is always open!

For the rest of you… any thoughts on the questions they raised? Leave a comment below!

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