Sarah Skilton here! My contemporary young adult novel, BRUISED, came out yesterday, March 5th, through Abrams/Amulet Books.
BRUISED tells the story of 16-year-old Imogen, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do who freezes up at an armed robbery and is left wondering if martial arts failed her or she failed it.
To celebrate my book's birthday, I'd like to introduce Imogen and explain why I chose her to be BRUISED's narrator.
To tell this particular story, my narrator couldn't be anyone else. Imogen is defined -- and more importantly, defines herself -- by her all-encompassing love of martial arts. When I'm writing, I ask myself, "What's the worst thing that could happen to this particular person?" If you don't write about the worst thing that could happen, you may lose the chance to push your characters to their limits in terms of drama and storytelling. Who wants to read about an event that doesn't affect the narrator very much, or change him or her in some way? If it doesn't affect the lead character – really affect them – it won't affect the reader, either.
Because Imogen's identity is so wrapped up in her martial arts abilities, her failure to use those abilities when it really matters destroys her in a way it wouldn't destroy someone else, someone who hasn't spent the last six years training four times a week and dreaming of opening her own martial arts school one day.
I also chose a 16-year-old girl for my narrator because at that age the question of identity is especially important. The teenage years are the ones in which we try to figure out what kind of person we want to be. Coming-of-age / Young Adult novels tend to focus on defining moments, first moments, in a way that "adult" novels can't always do.
It was important to me to write the story from the point of view of a young person who still has an idealized view of the world, of herself, and of her place in that world. How will she react when that idealized view is fundamentally challenged? I wanted to pose the question, "If you're not who you thought you were, then who are you?"
Imogen as a narrator gave me the chance to do just that.
(This essay was reprinted with permission from Lisa Gail Green's blog.)
BRUISED is available now in stores and online! (It's nice not saying "available for pre-order" anymore. Whee!)
Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Powell's
Indiebound / Skylight Books (Los Feliz, CA)
Add on GoodReads
Sarah Skilton lives in California with her magician husband and
their son. By day she works in the film and TV business. She is a black
belt in Tae Kwon Do, which came in handy when writing Bruised. Visit her online at sarahskilton.comhttp://www.sarahskilton.com.