Savannah Avery is the author of the edgy young adult novel “Girls”. She is twenty years old and lives in Virginia with her wife Kendra. When she is not writing she likes to garden and read. She also loves anything related to home making. “Girls” is her first published novel. Savannah was kind enough to share about her experience as a first-time author and what’s she learned in the process. Here’s a bit more about her book.
Seventeen year old Coco meets a group of girls who have everything she ever wanted- friendship, independence, beauty and attention from boys. But being one of the girls isn’t easy. The group’s leader M has strict rules and requires all of her girls to use their bodies to make her money. What is Coco willing to give up to become one of the girls?
Are experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think that in all of my books I have to have some familiarity with my characters. Although I may not have any experience with the “main” issue Coco deals within “Girls” I can definitely understand her need for having friends and trying to figure out right from wrong.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want to shed some light on human trafficking, because it’s not always the typical “girl runs away from her abusive parents and an older guy forces her to sleep with people for money.” Human trafficking can take place anywhere, even at a high school. Human trafficking can affect anyone, even someone whose parents love them. We all need to be aware, and I hope this book will help people think twice about their view of human trafficking.
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I read mostly young adult novels, even though I’m twenty and married I can’t get away from them! Kody Keplinger (author of the Duff) is a huge inspiration to me, she has had so much success at such a young age!
How long have you known that you wanted to be a writer? Did you have any inkling as a child?
I have wanted to be every profession under the sun- seriously! I never thought about being an author as my career though. I thought maybe I would just write for fun, or at the most publish a few novels but still have a full-time job. But once I got married I became a stay at home wife, and that gave me the time to write full-time. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else!
What was the time frame for writing this book?
I get stressed out if I put a time frame on my writing. I will feel rushed and then the work won’t come out the way I want it too. I try to write every day though, and since I do that I am able to finish a rough draft in a few weeks and a finished novel in 4-5 months.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I do have a writing routine, but I’m not sure it’s the most organized! First I write an outline, it has everything in it and it helps me stay concentrated on the story. I will write quotes or details about the characters. Then I’ll start the story and I use the outline as a guide. But, that’s all it is, a guide. My story can go anywhere while I’m writing it! (For example, the ending for “Girls” was supposed to be something completely different! I changed my mind at the last minute!) I want my story to feel real, and when I’m writing if it feels staged or unrealistic then I’ll change it. That real-ness that I strive for is why I also do research. When I came up with the idea of this book I originally just wanted a story about teen girls who do something wrong. I started to think and look up what that “something wrong” could be. That’s when I came across human trafficking, and I was shocked to find out that it happens to a lot of teenage girls. I knew then that I had to write a story about it!
What encouragement helped you along the way?
Absolutely my wife! She is my main inspiration, she is always there encouraging me.
What advice do you have for beginning writers?
Write every day! Read every day! These two things are the most important. Take an hour for each every day.
The characters in the book are very vivid and complex. How did you come up with their personalities?
I connect with my characters before I even come up with the story. I can’t tell you how I came up with their personalities, I think they came to me overtime. I knew I wanted all the girls to have different personalities, because like I said human trafficking can affect anyone. I worked hard thinking about how each girl would react to a certain situation.
What’s next for you? Can we expect more YA books, or is there something else in the works?
I am currently working on another novel now! I am hoping for it to be released around September (but no promises!) I will probably always write YA books, but I would one day love to write a non-fiction book on homemaking!
What do you do outside your writing life?
I’m a stay at home wife, and I take a lot of pleasure in homemaking. I love to cook (plant-based vegetarian food), clean and garden. I also love to spend time in nature, I love going to the park or the beach!
Excerpt from Girls:
I wondered if it was them, if they were so special and so compatible with me that we were all supposed to be close, or if it was all timing. If they happened to be there when I needed someone. If I would have met them before Mark would I be intrigued by their lifestyle or repulsed? I didn’t know the answers to those questions and I wasn’t even sure that it mattered.
“Are you awake?” Katherine spoke softly from the bed across the room, she couldn’t see me in the dark but I turned towards her anyways out of habit. “Yeah..just thinking” I said “About what?” she asked me. “A lot” I answered. She didn’t say anything for a few moments. “I think you would be good” she said and at first I wasn’t sure what she meant but then she went on “you’re pretty, but it takes more than that. It’s about having that need, and I can see you need something.” I think she was right.