GALLIPOLIS — Young adult literature author Natalie Richards, author of critically-acclaimed novels such as Six Months Later, We All Fall Down and One Was Lost, met with Bossard Memorial Library’s Teen Summer Club to discuss the writing profession Thursday afternoon.
She also met with the French City Writers’ Guild in the evening to meet with area writers and discuss the craft.
Richards is the author of six separate books and the last comes out in December.
“There has to be something in you that’s different,” said Richards. “You have to be a little bit quirky to be a writer because I don’t know a single writer that looks at the world in a way like everybody else does. We see it in a slightly different way, sometimes we don’t identify that that’s writing until so much later. It’s a creative thing. You might look at someone’s grocery cart and you don’t say ‘Wow, you’re buying flowers and chocolate.’ You say ‘Hm, what’d you do? Who’d you break up with?’ You make a story in your head and it starts to happen.”
Richards encouraged young writers to read outside of their standard genres of choice in order to expand their minds and broaden and better their writing by looking at new techniques. She told prospective writers to expect to write drafts over and over again as part of the process as agents and editors go over their work. She also encouraged them to not give up and to heed criticism but not negativity.
“I have very conflicted characters and I definitely tend to write thrillers with heart,” said Richards. “I do not write white knights and white hats. I think there are too many books that tell teenagers that to be a hero you have to be a bookworm and the top of your class and this and that. If you’re not a hot mess when you’re 17-years-old, you’re not doing it right…When you’re that old, you are a hot mess, so let’s own and recognize that. Who in their life wasn’t trying to figure everything out then?”
Richards encouraged teens who enjoy “world-building” to look into genres such as science fiction, fantasy and history due to the nature of studying the expansiveness of cultures and environmental situations.
“It took me four years and six months of writing seriously (to publish six books),” said Richards. “When I say seriously I mean I didn’t occasionally write on the weekend. I wrote 20 hours a week. Maybe 30. I got rejected in so many times and in so many ways. I was told I couldn’t write, why I ever thought I could write and people told me I wasn’t good enough or educated enough…I heard it all and got published anyway. Sometimes, guys, a lot of life is hearing that sort of stuff and pulling up your socks anyway.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.