Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post: The Summer I Learned To Dive by Shannon McCrimmon

Since the time she was a little girl, eighteen-year-old Finley “Finn” Hemmings has always lived her life according to a plan, focused and driven with no time for the average young adult’s carefree experiences. On the night of her high school graduation, things take a dramatic turn when she discovers that her mother has been keeping a secret from her—a secret that causes Finn to do something she had never done before—veer off her plan. In the middle of the night, Finn packs her bags and travels by bus to Graceville, SC seeking the truth. In Graceville, Finn has experiences that change her life forever; a summer of love, forgiveness and revelations. She learns to take chances, to take the plunge and to dive right in to what life has to offer.

The Musings of an Austen Addict

Everyone has a favorite book. It's the book you can claim to have read a million times. It's the one where you know the characters so well, that they feel real to you. It's the book that you can repeat certain passages verbatim.

To say I've read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen a bunch of times is a gross understatement. Every Christmas, as part of a yearly ritual, I reread it. “Hello, my name is Shannon McCrimmon and I am a Jane Austen addict.”

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel of all time. It's a timeless romance with incredible characters. The chemistry between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth is engrossing. You can't help but appreciate their initial disdain for one another, only to see their feelings blossom into a mutual attraction and then grow into full-fledged love. There's that element of suspense where you are constantly asking yourself while reading it, “Will Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett end up together?” In my humble opinion, Darcy is one of the sexiest heroes and Elizabeth is one of the wittiest heroines in literature.

The supporting characters are individuals in their own right: the dim-witted Mr. Collins, who knows nothing about women; the hypochondriac, very dramatic mother who will stop at nothing to marry off her five daughters; and the sweet, non-judgmental sister, Jane, who sees the good in everyone. Austen created an entire cast of colorful characters who enrich the story and make it such an entertaining, memorable read. Characters, who truly are characters, help make a story interesting. If they're dull and lifeless, then you won't be drawn in and may never finish the book.

I just completed the sequel to The Summer I Learned to Dive, entitled: The Year I Almost Drowned. It's slated to be released late fall of this year. I'm really excited about this one. I love the characters I created in The Summer I Learned to Dive and am equally as enthusiastic about the new characters that are introduced in the sequel.

When I create a character, I jot down EVERYTHING about that character, from their taste in music and food, to any peculiarities that they may have, and general background information. When the character of Jesse (swoon) was created, I decided he was a jazz fan and loved Nina Simone. I believed it fit him, because jazz music is incredibly sexy and in my opinion, so is Jesse!

Some people may think that writing a sequel would be easy. It's not. In fact, it can be an intense process where you start second guessing yourself by repeatedly asking, “Would this character do this?” I had to make sure that when the characters spoke, acted, or did anything for that matter that it was true to them and the idea of what I had originally created. For me, I took it as an opportunity to expand on their character. I wanted to give readers the chance to get to know them better―the way I know them.

Unique characters stand out. They pull you into the story and make you remember it. That's what Jane Austen did when she put pen to paper, and that's what I'm hoping to do, too.

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