Hi guys! Today I am having my first ever guest post on the blog in a long time! Carrie Ann DiRisio and Brooding YA Hero introduced me to the wonderful Gia Cribbs and her main character Sloane Sullivan, and I am super excited to have Gia today to talk about “Plotting, Pantsing, and the Art of Surprise!” I love YA thriller novels and the feeling of being on the edge of your seat while your heart is pounding, so I very looking forward to The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan! I hope you enjoy this amazing guest post!
About the Book
No one wants me to tell you about the disappearance of Sloane Sullivan.
Not the lawyers or the cops. Not her friends or family. Not even the boy who loved her more than anyone. And most certainly not the United States Marshals Service. You know, the people who run the witness protection program or, as it’s officially called, the Witness Security Program? Yeah, the WITSEC folks definitely don’t want me talking to you.
But I don’t care. I have to tell someone.
If I don’t, you’ll never know how completely wrong things can go. How a single decision can change everything. How, when it really comes down to it, you can’t trust anyone. Not even yourself. You have to understand, so it won’t happen to you next. Because you never know when the person sitting next to you isn’t who they claim to be…and because there are worse things than disappearing.
Plotting, Pantsing, and the Art of Surprise
I have a SLOANE bible.
It’s a black Moleskin notebook, one of the largest ones they make, filled to capacity with everything I’ve ever researched or thought of for this book. There’s a page for each main character, with pictures of what they look like and their favorite birthdays and backstories I knew would never actually make it into the book. There’s a list of every identity Sloane’s had while in witness protection, including where she lived, what she looked like, and who she was friends with. Calendars with dates of story events circled, hand-drawn maps of schools and towns, lists of popular 1990s alternative bands because one character is obsessed with them—they’re all in there. And, of course, a very detailed outline. Because if you haven’t guessed it: I’m a planner.
Plotting out everything beforehand helps me keep track of all the clues and twists, so my outline is more like a first draft. It’s how I figure out where the story is going and piece together the scenes that have been playing in my head and furiously write whole conversations between characters because I need to get them down regardless of whether I’ll ever use them or not. But even with all that planning, sometimes I still get surprised.
There’s a twist in SLOANE—no, I’m not telling what it is :)—that wasn’t in my original outline. As I was writing the actual first draft, I got to a point where one character asks another character something related to that twist for the first time, and my fingers typed a response I wasn’t expecting at all. I stared at what I’d just written for a moment and then grinned as all the ways the new twist could weave its way through the book popped into my head. And, just like that, I was excited all over again about this story I already loved.
Even when you’re a planner, you can’t be afraid of where the story takes you. Because when you’re writing a thriller, you want to make it as twisty and surprising for the reader as possible. But sometimes surprising yourself is the best part.
About the Author
Gia Cribbs is an author and lawyer who lives in Maryland with her husband and daughters. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, eating too much chocolate, or fantasizing about her next vacation.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SLOANE SULLIVAN, her first novel, will be published by Harlequin TEEN on May 29, 2018.
Pre-Order The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan here today!
Are you excited for The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan? What are some of your favorite YA thrillers?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!