Tuesday, September 15, 2015

WRITING FOR YOUNG ADULTS…Chris Elston/guest post

I was recently approached by young adult author Chris Elston to review his book, The Four Corners.  Unfortunately the timing for me to include his book just simply would not fit into my calendar. However, impressed with what I did see from this new up and comer, when it comes to writing novels, I really wanted to present his work to our audience. I found what little I did read of this story a bit more on the younger side of YA, however, Chris has assured me it most definitely fits in the YA genre.  His story takes on the pov of each of his family characters….and the beginning of the book just so happens to start with the youngest son.
It's always impressive, and most interesting, to me when a man writes for young people…something of family and honor, as this is typically not the norm these days….everything seems to have zombies and massive ugly creatures at war.  So when someone, a man in particular, writes about the importance of family, well, I'd like to promote this work to our young audience.   Some of my followers here at Thornton Berry Shire Press will be curious to take a look and share with their young ones, I'm certain of this.

Chris has done his homework.  He has a full description of his story that also offers a book trailer, which many authors have not caught up to as yet.  He has a map, and a clear direction he is heading…please follow along and meet our author Chris Elston and his debut book, The Four Corners.  Make sure to read his guest post about writing for YA and go down further to click on the link to acquire your own hardbound signed special edition of the Four Corners.


The Snyder family is falling apart. Grant and Jill barely speak and when they do, they’re screaming at one another. Their youngest child, Kinsey, has withdrawn into himself to the point where the only person he really speaks to is his sister, Tatum. She was born with more resilience than her brother and has essentially taken over the duties of both parents where Kinsey is concerned. His greatest fear is that his parents will split up and he’ll be separated from Tatum. When another shouting match ensues and the word divorce is finally used, Kinsey loses it. He runs into the forest in a total emotional frenzy and vanishes right before Tatum’s eyes. When she and her parents search exhaustively and come up empty, fear, anger and guilt cause another emotional outburst and the rest of the family vanishes as well. They each wake up alone in separate parts of a strange world called Kadosh. This world is made up of a vast ocean and five islands used to separate men, women, boys and girls by Raum, the ruler of Kadosh, who lives on the island in the center of the other four. Raum is in control of everything but the people in Kadosh. The Snyders band together with other people previously trapped in Kadosh on a thrilling quest to defy Raum and find their families against all odds. The Four Corners is a brilliantly told, imaginative story about the importance of love and family.

What Inspires Me To Write Young Adult Fantasy Fiction?
by C.S. Elston

Whether from movies or books, I have always enjoyed stories about finding hope or redemption, great quests or adventures, and extraordinary things happening to otherwise ordinary people.  That’s why, growing up, I devoured movies like the “Indiana Jones” saga, “D.A.R.Y.L.,” “The Secret of Nimh,” “Escape To Witch Mountain,” the “Back to the Future” trilogy, “Flight of the Intruder,” “The Hobbit” (animated,) “Teen Wolf,” “Explorers,” “E.T.,” “Weird Science,” and the “Star Wars” trilogy. I even enjoyed some of the mid-to-bottom shelf stuff like “They Live,” “My Science Project,” “Night of the Comet,” “The Beastmaster,” “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,” “Dreamscape,” and “The Last Starfighter.” The same was true with TV shows like “The Incredible Hulk,” “Thundercats,” ”“Greatest American Hero,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,”  and the short-lived “Misfits of Science.” And, let’s not forget comic-books like “Spider-Man” and the ultimate extraordinary person masquerading as someone ordinary, “Superman.” I also loved to read books like the H.G. Wells novels “The Time Machine, “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” and “War of the Worlds” as well as the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, and Mark Twain’s wonderful adventures with great characters like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

As I got older, I began to appreciate the more adult themes that were woven into some of the things I was already watching and reading and that appreciation helped lead me into movies like “The Green Mile,” “Groundhog Day,” “The Matrix,” “Ladyhawke,” “Alien Nation,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Starman,” “The Stand,” “Big,” “Phenomenon,” “Enemy Mine,” “Powder” and TV shows such as “V.” One of the books, which is not exactly YA Fantasy, that helped me appreciate that, and the fact that you could pull important themes for all ages out of pint-sized characters was Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird”. That’s also a book that made me aware of the importance of presenting themes like justice and truth (sounds like “Superman” again, right?) in fiction. Writing fiction is a chance to talk about important issues. As an author, however, it’s important to know when to drop the hammer and when to refrain from being too on the nose or preachy. Plus, the younger characters are more naïve and innocent regarding the world they live in. So, it gives the author a chance to look at a subject with a less clouded vision. Oh, the bliss of clarity that most adults have simply lost…

As an adult, my tastes haven’t changed much. I still love all of the same fiction I did when I was younger. But, I’ve added the recent crop of superhero movies like “The Dark Knight” trilogy to the list. I also love books (and movies based on them) by J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, J.R.R. Tolkien, Richard Matheson and Suzanne Collins.

Since that’s my viewing and reading taste, it makes sense that it would also be my writing taste. My debut novel (out now) is called “The Four Corners” and people have compared it to the aforementioned Narnia series and “A Wrinkle In Time” as well as “Bridge To Terabithia” by Katherine Patterson, which I, of course, find very flattering. But, it’s not shocking that I would write something that fits into that category because I love those kinds of stories so much. 

I can’t guarantee that everything I ever write will always land in the category of Young Adult Fantasy Fiction (my favorite movie of all time is actually “The Shawshank Redemption”) but I can say with great confidence that most of it will. Since my second novel (currently in the editing phase) is called “The Gift of Tyler” and focuses on a teenaged boy in a small Eastern Washington town who begins developing abilities he can’t explain, I’d say I’m off to a good start. Who knows, maybe twenty or thirty years down the road a new author will write a posting like this one and I, or something I write, can be mentioned among a long list of writers and stories that have touched or inspired him in some way. One can only hope…

About C.S. Elston

After award-winning stage work in the nineties, Chris moved to Los Angeles where he wrote more than two dozen feature film and television screenplays. He has been invited to participate in screenwriting events for Cinema Seattle and Angel Citi Film Festival. In 2013, Chris left Los Angeles for the suburbs of his hometown, Seattle, Washington, to get married and start a new chapter in his own story.
* A more detailed bio can be found at www.cselston.com

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