By: Janet Gurtler
As a YA writer, Janet Gurtler often has to embody the lives and emotions of her character. This time, we’re asking her to channel Sam and tell us some of the character insight we’re dying to know – first crush, most embarrassing moment, favorite books, music, & more! And Janet reveals a little of how she creates such realistic teen characters.
“Sam, Sam, Sam. What are we going to do with you?”
If you can’t tell, I’m using my mother voice. Also I’m talking to a fictitious character. But we’ll ignore that part. When I write teen characters I have to turn my mother voice off. (And embrace the crazy.) Truth be known, I am able to remove my mother voice pretty easily and I find it kind of natural to slip inside the head of a teenager.
I had a tough time when I was a teenager. I had a lot of internal struggles. I majored in insecurity and angst. And I remember many of those feelings really well. Really, really well.
So, getting inside the head of a teenager isn’t as hard for me as if should be. Of course, my characters aren’t me. I give them different challenges and different personality quirks. And then I have to try to think the way they would think. I have to slip into their shoes.
Fortunately, I enjoy imagining getting inside a character’s head. I like to go deep inside and look at things people sometimes try to hide. From themselves and from the world. I like to go there. To places that are uncomfortable. Especially with the challenges of today’s world around them. Technology. Expectations. Social media.
I took Samantha to some uncomfortable places in Who I Kissed. Imagine feeling responsible for the death of someone else. How horrifying would that be? How would you possibly get over it? Especially when you’re dealing with your own issues. Sam had some things to overcome even before the accident, but the accident brought them to the surface with a rush. Ultimately, Sam has to learn to let other people in. And that’s not always an easy thing to do. To me she’s a fully formed person with a history and built in likes and dislikes. So let’s take a deeper look at Sam. Let me slide back into her skin for a moment and tell you some of her secrets.
Favorite Book- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by
Favorite Song- Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae
Favorite Movie- The Avengers
Favorite Food- Jelly Bellies of course! But as far as real food goes, she likes Mexican. Bean Burritos. Even though they give her gas. She probably wouldn’t eat them on a date.
First serious crush. Zee. First heart aches. Zee. Best kiss ever. Zee.
Celebrity Crush- Corbin Bleu. She is waiting for his acting career to extend beyond High school Musical
Personal Hero- Missy Franklin
Secret Talent- Sam loves to dance. She practices in her room with her iPod. At some point, she’s going to try to convince her swim team to record a dance dare (dancing behind people without them knowing) for the Ellen show. She knows every dance step to Party Rockin by LMFAO.
Most Embarrassing Moment- When her bathing suit split down the butt at a swim meet and she had to finish her race, which was thankfully backstroke.