Today, we have the wonderful author, Colleen Clayton, stopping by the blog to talk about what inspired her to create her debut novel, What Happens Next.
Hey everyone! Kayla has been kind enough to allow me to guest post today! She asked me to discuss my inspiration behind my book WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. My inspiration came from several places and I’ll try to touch upon several of them.
Themes: I wanted to write a book that deals with the theme of sexual assault and its effect on a survivor’s sense of body image. Studies have shown that survivors of sexual assault are at risk for developing eating disorders so I wanted to explore that connection. I also wanted to write about a young woman who reclaims her sexuality and sense of desire, post-assault, and does so in a healthy way.
Characterization/ Opening Scenes: I had a very distinct image in my head as to how Sid would look physically and where we would first find her. It was an image of a red-haired, curvy teen girl sitting on a ski-lift with a very charming and handsome man (Dax Windsor) who was clearly too old for her. In my mind, (and eventually on the page…) the two of them were high in the air, cut off from the world. The man was making her laugh, lowering her defenses, and getting her to trust him.
Romance, or “The Boy”: I always knew Corey Livingston would be a brown-haired, brown-eyed, masculine boy who may not be “college material” but who is very intelligent and dreams of becoming a chef. I have a lot of working class, skilled tradespeople in my family and friend circle. Chefs, coal miners, mechanics, hairdressers, plumbers, etc. I wanted to showcase a character who takes that career path. I wanted to help readers understand that college is not for everyone and that that’s okay. The trades are an excellent way to go in life.
Family Relationships: I wanted to create a really, really good mom for Sid. Often, in YA literature, parents are maligned or relegated to the roles of clueless, self-involved idiots. While I am not opposed to someday writing a parental character who fits that profile, it wasn’t right for this novel and for this story. In regards to setting, it was always going to be a fictionalized version of Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. I love Lakewood and Cleveland so much and am proud to set my novel there.