Author Brieanna Wilkoff talks as regards her debut YA novel, I’ll Be There For You, and what stimulated her characters.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed YA author Brieanna Wilkoff as regards her life and career, what stimulated her to oncoming writing, and the story of her debut novel, I’ll Be There For You.
Tell Brieanna Wilkoff who you are:
I am someone who loves words. I have always been an avid reader and have been writing short stories since I was a child. Professionally, my 15-year career has been focused on publishing in advertising and marketing. After almost 20 years of publishing books, I finally fulfilled my dream with my first young adult novel, I’ll Be There for You, which was published in October.
When did you maiden want to write a book?
If I remember correctly, my first attempt at writing a (more or less) long story was around fifth grade. For many years I’ve written all sorts of things – short stories, poems, screenplays, horror films, essays, picture books, mid-length novels – but not long after delving into young adult fiction over a decade ago, I realized I had my sweet lover found.
When did you decide to start writing?
I took it too seriously from a young majority. In middle and high school, I read craft books and entered contests. In college, I majored in English with a major in creative writing. Since then I have attended workshops and conferences, taken classes, worked with critic groups and partners, and continued to read, write, edit, and learn.
How long did it accept you to get your first book from notion to publication?
About 5 years. However, there was a lot of free time during this time – after I had the first idea, I wrote a few, then postponed it for a year. I then picked it up and wrote a third of the novel before deciding to switch from women’s fiction, which it originally was, to children’s fiction. I took another break for about 6 months then came back and started being YA again. From then on it took about 6 months for the manuscript to be submitted, but it took almost another two years for the manuscript to reach the publisher. The book came out 7 months later.
What formed your shortage to write I’ll Be There For You?
The germ of the idea was to write a story about the healing power of kindness. Kindness is important to me and my family – we did up to 100 acts of kindness in a day – and I thought it would be fun to explore the impact that can have in a novel.
What were the biggest difficulties in writing I’ll Be There For You?
I originally wrote this story from my mother’s point of view, but it lacked engaging voice acting, which is one of my favorite things about YA, so I decided to rewrite the book starring my girlfriend. Another challenge arose at the end of the process. I’m a huge fan of the Save the Cat craft book! She writes Jessica Brody’s novel and the plot structure she proposes. But I read this book after I wrote I’ll Be There For You.”
So when the editor and I started working on the book, I had to make some pretty big changes – a whole new chapter and new scenes write, rearrange many scenes and cut other parts – to strengthen the structure and make it more consistent with Save Fe Cat. This is probably the biggest revision I’ve made to the novel, but the book is so much better.
Who or what stimulated thou when developing The Protagonist?
Rae is a theater girl and that comes from me. Although I have never experienced a loss like Rae’s, I am very close to my parents and have used that closeness to imagine how Rae feels after losing her father. Many aspects of kindness come from what my family and I have done.
Who or what inspired you to create The Antagonist?
I would say Rae’s mother is the antagonist and her character was pretty easy for me to write because I am the mother of a 10-year-old girl. My daughter is reaching an age where she sometimes gives in or needs her own space, so I try to give her what she wants, protect her, and do what I feel is right as a parent. There’s a lot of that in Rae’s relationship with her mother.
What is the fire incident in “I’ll Be There For You”?
There are two: the woman does something nice for Rae when she needs it and asks her for more, and Rae decides to take part in the school drama. Without art, she would not have met the characters that are such a huge impact on her recovery, and without kindness, she would not have found the acceptance and forgiveness she so desperately needs.
What is the original conflict of I’ll Be There For You?
Rae struggles with the grief of her father and tries to deal with it on her own. Her friendship with Mac gives her an outlet for her grief, and when they fight, she feels the loss even more.
Did you expect me I’ll Be There For You or fly next to your pants and write freely?
I didn’t have everything planned out, but I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going. However, after investigating what is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame The year Bon Jovi was inducted, I learned about Jon’s efforts to end hunger and homelessness through the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and it changed an important part of my novel.
Did you receive assembly help and how much assembly do I need for ” I’ll Be There For You”?
Before I started uploading, my family, friends, and other reviewers gave me feedback. When I was working with my editor on Winding Road Stories, I talked to my editor about changes I felt were needed in the story and I made them. Then she and I went through the manuscript, about 30 pages at a time, tweaking the language, tweaking the character reactions, and removing anything unnecessary. While the basic story hasn’t changed, the final version of the book is vastly different – and vastly improved – from the version I submitted.
What is the foremost piece of writing advice you would give someone that inspired you to scribe a story?
accept playback. It’s hard to put words to paper, especially when you’re trying to write something that requires tens of thousands of words. Accepting that the first draft isn’t great helps take the pressure off. You can always edit, add or remove words later. It’s a necessary part of the process: proofreading turns a good idea into a good book.
Can thou say me what other books thou want to write?
I want! My next novel (also Modern YA) is about a high school English class reading Romeo and Juliet. You are tasked with writing a letter to “Juliet” asking for love advice, but the letters will be posted anonymously online for all to see. As people try to figure out who wrote which letter — and who’s hitting, who’s gay, who’s in love, and who’s cheating “Juliet” begins to reply.
And finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? It was worth it?
One million percent YES! Publishing a book has been a dream of mine for many, many years. I put a lot of effort, time, frustration, tears, hope, joy, and love into this passion and everything about this release/implementation has been wonderful.
Pop all thine book, website, and social media link hither so the readers can find you:
My website is brieannawilkoff.com and different purchase links for the book can be found there.
I’ve also started a kindness initiative aimed at radiating 50,000 acts of kindness, which you can learn more about atkindnessdominoeffect.com.
The rest of my links are below: