Okay, it’s official. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which starts in (shudders in fear) three days. And I figured that if I wrote about the book here, it would make it even officialer and I wouldn’t be able to back out of it. At least not without a lot of shame.
I did NaNoWriMo in 2014 and technically “won” (wrote my 50,000 words), but I didn’t come anywhere close to finishing my book. And by the time I finished NaNo I was feeling less than confident that I should be finishing the book because I felt pretty stuck.
But I’m not giving up!! I’m back for more torture … fun. I meant fun. I decided to participate in Beautiful Books 2016 (which is hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In) and I’m answering their questions here! (Though I’m switching the order slightly.)
Describe what your novel is about!
When 11-year-old Annalaine’s two best friends, Owen and Keeley, move away, she’s devastated. But her loneliness doesn’t last long. Annalaine discovers a mysterious door behind the park hedges that leads to a strange but beautiful garden … and Owen and Keeley, even though they live hundreds of miles away.
Of course, Annalaine doesn’t need new friends when she can keep the old, so she’s not particularly interested when Piper moves in next door. And she certainly isn’t going to risk exposing the Meeting Spot to Piper (or anyone else)—not once she learns that doing so will make it disappear forever. But balancing adventures in the Meeting Spot and life in the real world is tougher than Annalaine ever imagined, and she finds that she just might need to make room in her life for new friends after all.
What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I was inspired to write this book by the fact that ALL of my neighborhood friends (five families worth!) moved away the summer before I went into 6th grade. I was devastated and lonely, and how cool would it have been if there had been some sort of magical doorway that allowed me to play with them every day even though they’d moved?!
I’ve also been inspired by my own kids in many ways. 🙂
This book has been percolating in my mind for the past several years. I wrote the outline for it a year or two ago.
What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
See my Pinterest board. It’s filled with super fun fantastical garden images!
Introduce us to each of your characters!
Annalaine is a sensitive, cheerful and imaginative eleven-year-old girl. She’s a people-pleaser and the peace-keeper in her little trio of friends. She’s not a fan of change, so when her friends move away, it’s very difficult for her.
Owen is artistic and creative. He sees himself as a performer and likes to be the center of attention.
Keeley is a little spitfire of a girl. She’s courageous, pretty, fun and outlandish and a bit of a tomboy.
Matthew is Annalaine’s seven-year-old brother. He’s adorable, and Annalaine loves him to pieces, but he can be a little bit of a pest, as little brothers are known for. He is obsessed with bugs and can spout off LOTS of facts about them!
Piper is a bit … quirky. She’s incredibly intelligent, but she talks loud and fast and doesn’t always pick up on social cues, so she can be a little overwhelming at times. Piper gets made fun of sometimes, and Annalaine wants to stand up for her, but she finds it hard to be brave and step into conflict.
How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
For my last NaNo project, I had a vague idea of the story and that was about it. It didn’t go so well. This time, I have a much more solid plan, including an actual outline of each of the chapters. I’m sure this plan will change somewhat, but I’ve got a really strong basis to start with.
What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
The Meeting Spot itself!
List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
The novel will take place in Annalaine’s neighborhood (and sometimes at her school) and in the magical world of The Meeting Spot.
The Meeting Spot itself (as a place) is somewhat inspired by The Secret Garden. I picture it as a somewhat more fantastical version of that garden, with lots of color and fancy hedges and such, even though there’s no one (obvious) there to upkeep it).
Both the “real” world and The Meeting Spot will have some elements of danger.
What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Annalaine’s goal is to avoid losing her two best friends! The distance between them (after Own and Keeley both move) stands in her way.
How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Annalaine learns to stand up for herself and her friends more. She also learns the value of letting new people into her life.
What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I actually haven’t completely decided how the book is going to end yet. I have a couple of different possible endings planned. But, in the end, I want to show that sometimes we need to move on and accept loss—but that doesn’t mean forgetting the people you’ve left behind.
UPDATE: If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo as well, feel free to add me as a writing buddy! My username is nmhewitt.
So, what do you think of my NaNoWriMo 2016 book idea? Are you planning to participate in NaNo this year? I want to know!