CONGRATS NATALIE! WINNER OF THE RANDOM
COMMENTS CONTEST ENTRY #38
Today we are so excited to have Jackie stop by the blog with a fantastic guest post as part of her LOSS blog tour! She will talk to us about ... BOYS!
Writing in a male Point of View, that is...
But first a little about LOSS and my review of this completely awesome installment.
Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on, from the school bullies to the teachers. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors...and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider—who is lost in his memories.
In his search, Billy travels through White Rider’s life: from ancient Phrygia, where the man called King Mita agrees to wear the White Rider’s Crown, to Sherwood Forest, where Pestilence figures out how to cheat Death; from the docks of Alexandria, where cartons of infested grain are being packed onto a ship that will carry the plague, to the Children’s Crusade in France—all the way to what may be the end of the world. When Billy finally finds the White Rider, the teen convinces the man to return to the real world.
But now the insane White Rider plans to unleash something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Death look like a summer cold. Billy has a choice: he can live his life and pretend he doesn’t know what’s coming, or he can challenge the White Rider for his Crown. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world?
** This book was provided to us by the publisher for an honest review and we were in no way paid for it.
The review was done simply because we support and believe in the author's works**
Loss is one of those books that I just can’t get out of my head. I shed many tears, held my breath at different points in the book, felt angry, felt happiness – another emotional rollercoaster ride! In this installment of the Riders of the Apocalypse series, Jackie Morse Kessler brings us right into the heart of bullying. I am a huge anti-bullying advocate. Anytime I read about it, see anything about it, hear anything about it, a little something inside of me snaps and my emotions are visible for all to see. Loss brought out all of those emotions for me. If there’s anything that I try to cement into my kids’ head, it is not to be mean to anyone. If they see someone who is eating alone, or is sitting alone, to befriend them! Ask them to join…make them feel not as lonely. One of the things that my friends always say about me is that I always include everyone. I don’t leave anyone out, and I was always the one in school who stuck up for the ones who were being bullied. And I’m proud of that. And I want my kids to say the same thing when they grow up.
Loss is similar to that of the other 2 books of this series, Hunger and Rage BUT it is so different in so many different ways. In Loss we see Billy Ballard not only fight his own personal battles with bullying but also has an epic battle in which he has to fight to save the entire world. HUGE weight on his shoulders! We also get to see the past life of The White Rider (the Conqueror), Pestilence, and how he came to be one of the Riders. Jackie Morse Kessler also weaves a creative, ingenious twist on King Midas, whose touch (as we know it) turned everything into gold.
In the past books, we see the main characters having their Titles imposed upon them due to the deaths of their predecessors, but in Loss, the White King lives and it is up to Billy to have Pestilence continue his duties as the White Rider or to have the Title himself. An interesting aspect of this book was how Kessler weaved the thoughts and memories of Pestilence into a dreamlike state where we are treated with memories of his past, and his feelings and thoughts of when Death appointed him as Pestilence.
Of all the books, THIS ONE is the one I can see as a movie. Every page played out the movie in my mind, complete with the fast forward fast action memory sequences to slow motion play by plays. The book itself is divided into three parts; one where we see the bullying of Billy and how he ends up being chosen to be Pestilence, one where we see the thoughts and memories of the White King where Billy learns what he needs to know to save all of humanity, and one where we see the epic battle unfold and where we see Billy make his ultimate decision. Kessler’s writing in Loss is unforgettable and surpasses the first two books.
Fans of the Riders of the Apocalypse series will totally devour Loss and will bear witness to Billy Ballard, a boy who has been bullied for most of his life, save all of humanity.
|Photo by Michelle Rowen|
By Jackie Morse Kessler
Let’s talk about boys.
Actually, I need to be more specific, because otherwise this blog post would be me babbling about Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. (I’m a very new fan of Supernatural, can you tell?) Let’s talk about writing a boy protagonist when I’m not a boy and never have been.
I’ve written male POV protagonists before. For my adult series Hell on Earth, the third book was first-person POV of a bona-fide evil male demon who was also the protagonist—i.e., the Good Guy—and believe me when I say that was writing way outside of my comfort zone. (It’s also my favorite Hell book to date.) In Shades of Gray, the superhero novel I coauthored with Caitlin Kittredge, I wrote in close-third-person POV for the characters Night and Garth, but those characters were less about being male and more about being people with super powers in a world that had gone to hell. But neither of these books got into a teen boy’s head—and in LOSS, that’s exactly what I do.
Any author needs to get to know her characters and really understand them. When I was trying to figure out who Billy Ballard—the protagonist of LOSS—was, I had to push aside the fact that OMG HE’S A BOY. I mean, duh, yes, he’s a fifteen-year-old guy. Got it. But who was he? So the first thing I had to do was stop thinking about writing about a boy, and start thinking about who was he as a person.
At first, he was supposed to mostly be a caretaker character. His grandfather, a beloved figure, was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and Billy and his mom took care of him. From the beginning, I knew that Billy didn’t have a father living in his house, which made what was happening to the closest father figure he had even more powerful. But as I started writing, I realized that Billy was more than a caregiver: Billy was bullied. Horribly. He’s the kid that nobody liked, the one everyone picked on. And that’s why, when he got the chance to become powerful, thanks to a magic Bow and a hasty promise, he could finally swing back—with devastating consequences.
And that’s when I really found out what sort of a person Billy Ballard was. Because it wasn’t about the girl he was madly in love with or the conflicted relationship he had with his grandfather or about how he coped with being bullied. It was about how he found his own inner strength and took his first steps from being a teen to being an adult. And that’s something that transcends gender. Yeah, Billy thinks about the girl he loves, a lot. And he thinks about his grandfather a lot, and his absentee dad and overworked mom and the kids at school who make his life miserable.
So the key to writing male POV for young adults—for me, at any rate—is not to stress over OMG IT’S A BOY. And from there, it flows.
And if it stops flowing, well, then it’s time to watch more Supernatural. :)
LOSS by Jackie Morse Kessler comes out March 20, 2012!
GIVEAWAY: One lucky commenter below will win a small cover poster of LOSS—and will be entered in the grand prize drawing! The grand prize winner will receive signed copies of HUNGER, RAGE, and LOSS—and will get to name a character in BREATH, the fourth book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series. The grand prize winner will be picked on Sunday, April 1, 2012. No foolin’.
Thanks so much for stopping by Jackie!
I can't wait to see what you have in store for us in BREATH!
You can read my review of HUNGER here!
You can read my review of RAGE here!