aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

What's a nice girl like you doing writing scary books?

From Publisher's Marketplace:

NYT bestselling author April Henry's FINISH HER OFF, about a 17-year old girl who wakes up on the floor of a remote cabin with no memory of who she is, how she came to be there, or why men are trying to hunt her down and kill her, to Christy Ottaviano at Christy Ottaviano Books, by Wendy Schmalz at Wendy Schmalz Agency.

So a while ago, I went for a run and was listening to a song from Kathleen Edwards, a Canadian singer-songwriter. And one song, Scared at Night, starts like this:

As a child I would wake at night
I was scared, but I kept real quiet
Shadows on the walls moving in on me
Underneath my sheets I could barely breathe
Your room was only just across the hall
All it would have taken was a single call
Maybe sometimes you've got to trust yourself
Not to scream out loud and run like hell

As a young man you were shooting rats
By accident you hit the farmyard cat
He ran for the fields and
Came back the next day
You had blown out his eye
And you could see his brain
Your dad said "Boy, there are some things in life.
You don't want to do but you know is right.
So take him out back and finish him off."
You got your gun off the shelf
It only took one shot

And I thought: "What if?" And I could see the cabin with the girl lying, barely conscious, on the floor. I could see the two men standing over her, one of them prodding her in the side with his expensive shoe and telling the other one, "She doesn't know anything. Take her out back and finish her off."

I could hear him leaving the cabin and driving away. And I could feel how the second man grabs her under the arms and starts to drag her out back, to the woods.

The book was really fun to write, at least the first two-thirds. I kept her on the run and let the forces against her multiply, so it's not only the bad guys she's on the run from, but also the cops.

Then came the part where I had to explain exactly WHY and HOW. Always the hardest part in a mystery or a thriller with a great beginning that poses an intriguing question. I came up with so many ideas to explain her fugue state and the men chasing after her, discarded them, came up with more, etc. Wrote the climatic scene where she confronts evil a dozen times. Put elements in, took them out. Researched a bunch of weird stuff, like state-of-the-art cages for lab mice and janitorial carts and popular high school musicals. [Aside - I'm old enough to remember writing pre-Internet, and in some ways I think it's made it worse. You can research all day and not actually WRITE anything.]

This will be my third book with Christy Ottoviano and Henry Holt and I'm so excited!

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Tags: finish her off, writing
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