Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Knowing your audience by Author Andrea Murray

When Michelle sent an email telling me I could guest post on whatever topic I wanted, I was baffled.  On this blog tour, I’ve answered a number of great questions that have really made me think about my views on writing and literature, my favorite genres, my inspiration.  However, one thing I haven’t discussed that has been a huge issue is audience, specifically knowing your audience.
                I am a teacher, have been for fifteen years.  I’ve taught just about every ‘English’ related class available in public school from remedial to AP.  One year, I began my day with second grade reading groups, and by lunch, I had advanced juniors and seniors.  I’ve even taught some concurrent credit classes for Freshmen Composition and Sophomore Literature.  You get the point.  I’ve been ‘around the block’ so to speak.
                In the last five years, I’ve worked exclusively with eighth and ninth graders, my favorite ages to teach.  At that age, they aren’t quite as rambunctious and touchy-feely as elementary students (except during a full moon!), but they aren’t so jaded that they don’t want to have a little fun.  I have about 140 students in a day, not including those who still come down the hall to say hi even though I no longer have them in class. I’ve listened to their complaints about boys (or girls as the case may be), seen their excitement when they get their licenses, shown tough love when needed, and tried to reason with them that their parents aren’t total idiots. I think, as far as teenagers go, I know my audience.
                My gripe is with writers who have NO experience with teenagers.  It amazes me how many published authors don’t mention any connection to their audience (a.k.a. teens) in their bios or in interviews.  There are days when I come home from school frustrated and exhausted, but I cannot image my life without my students.  I don’t understand how writers write YA fiction without any young adults in their lives.  I’ve heard from some adult readers that they wished my book hadn’t involved so much teenage angst.  For those critics, I have one question, “How many teenagers do YOU know?”

Author Bio:
Andrea Murray has been teaching English for longer than most of her students have been alive.  She has taught everything from junior high language arts to concurrent credit freshman composition. She lives in a very small town in Arkansas with her precocious daughter, energetic son, and racecar-driving husband.  When she isn't writing or reading novels for her students, she's probably watching reality television or cheesy science fiction movies.  In addition to Vivid, Andrea has also written Vicious, the sequel to her first novel.   
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Thank you for stopping by, Andrea!  The funny thing was the two topics that I had considered asking for you to post on were your inspiration and your favorite genre. :) 

Excerpt from the thrilling new novel, "VIVID" by Andrea Murray

Andrea Murray has shared an excerpt from her new novel, Vivid. It sounds like a thrilling page turner!

Got to calm down, I take a deep breath and close my eyes.  Calm down, deep breath.  I try to think of peaceful images: a beach, a mountain stream, Trista’s head on a spear—okay, that’s not helpful, and this is not working.  Then I hear Abby whimper and open my eyes to see her cradling her left wrist close to her chest.
“You okay?” I ask, trying not to see her chin tremble or the tears filling her eyes.
“My wrist,” she squeezes out between the lips she’s trying to keep tightly closed so that she won’t break down.  “I must have fallen on it.  I think it might be broken.”
Her eyes convey clearly what she’s about to do. 
“Don’t you cry in front of them,” I whisper.
“Ah is wittle Abby Wabby gonna cry,” says Sasquatch girl, rubbing her fists over her eyes to mimic a baby.  She bends down closer to Abby.
When Abby drops her head and a single tear splashes on her injured wrist, the volcano erupts.  I feel a tingle in my feet and hands.  The tingle moves quickly up my legs and arms.  When it reaches my chest, the tingle becomes a burst.  I squeeze my eyes closed again, this time as tightly as possible, trying to push the feeling back down because I know what’s going to happen.  I am struggling, and  I am failing.
Behind my eyelids, I actually see a tiny light like a dot at the end of a long tunnel.  It grows, becoming larger and larger, and I envision a freight train speeding down a track.  The light grows until it bursts like an exploding star. 
I open my eyes, and everything looks different, like tunnel vision only around the edges there is bright, white light, and locking on my target, I realize I have lost control. 


When Vivian Cartwright was five years old, she witnessed her mother’s death.
Now, sixteen-year-old Vivian only wants a normal life—hard to accomplish when you possess the power to control energy.  Her entire life she has feared her power and its connection to her mother’s murder.  She has kept her ability a secret from everyone except her guardian, Charlotte, who has hidden Vivian from the man responsible for her mother’s murder.
Her secret is safe until Vivian subconsciously defends herself at school using her power. After this first use of her gift in many years, Vivian’s power seems to take on a mind of its own, increasing in strength and demanding to be used. This increase in power also brings dreams of her mother’s death and the mysterious man connected with it.  When she is assigned to tutor the would-be boyfriend of Trista Parmer (a.k.a. the biggest diva in school), Vivian cannot deny the electrifying connection that she feels for the boy, Easton Garrett.  In her desire to get Easton away from Vivian, Trista doubles her efforts to humiliate Vivian, forcing Vivian to use her supernatural gift over and over.  With each use, Vivian fears she is losing control and discovers her powers are growing—maybe too much—bringing her unknowingly closer to the man who murdered her mother.

VIVID is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add the book to your Goodreads shelf and get to know Andrea.