Finding Five YA Answers with Bonnie Hearn Hill

Bonnie Hearn Hill is the author of the recently released Aries Rising, the first in the Young Adult Star-Crossed Series.

If you recognized the astrological sign, Aries, then you may have guessed that this YA romance/fantasy draws on Bonnie’s interest in astrology. Her novel revolves around Logan McRae, a teen who wants nothing more than to change her sucky life. When she finds a magical book called Fearless Astrology, Logan uses her newfound knowledge to get started. She’s found the answers to all her problems in the stars-but can Logan read the signs in time?

Bonnie spent 22 years as a newspaper editor, all the while working on her writing. She’s produced six thrillers, as well as several non-fiction books. Whew! Her friendship with Cosmo’s astrologer, Hazel-Dixon Cooper led to Bonnie’s development of the Star-Crossed series.

Since I’ve been sloshing around in the YA waters myself, I thought I’d ask Bonnie five questions that might help me and all the rest of us dipping our toes into that market.

1.   Since you started with thrillers, Bonnie, and moved to YA, did you find similarities? Or was it difficult/easy to make the switch?

It wasn’t all that different. I created a character I liked and wanted to travel with–a character with an external problem and a hole in her life–just as I did with my thrillers. The only difference is I have only one point-of-view character, which is strangely freeing but far from easy. Oh, and no dead bodies. Thriller-thinking is hard to break, though. At one point, I had the bad guy destroying the brakes on the teacher’s car, and the teacher’s car loses control…and…My critique group said, “Uh, we don’t think so.”

2.   When writing YA romance, what factors should a writer consider? (How far is too far?)

Can’t address that. This isn’t a traditional romance. The love interest is there, especially in the next two books, but the books are not about the love story. They are about Logan trying to use astrology to get what she wants, which of course, includes but is not limited to the guy.  

3.   Bonnie has already finished two more books in the series-Taurus Eyes and Gemini Night-so did you know from the outset that you would write a series or did it evolve after Aries Rising?

I knew, made that hoped. One reason I decided on astrology books was its potential for a series.  

4.  What route to publication did you take-the traditional, the renegade-or a mix of both?

You mean there’s a traditional approach to publication? Oh, no. Why didn’t anyone tell me? My approach was far from. I mentor many writers and tell them not to make all the mistakes I did. Most writers don’t read enough in their genre for fear of ruining their voice or something. The best thing you can do for your writing is read. Read your genre. Read current books. It won’t harm your voice. It will only enhance it. And it will keep you from trying to reinvent the wheel.  

5.   If you had just ONE thing you’d like writers to keep in mind when it comes to writing YA, what would it be.

 Three things. Character, character and character. A great character can save a mediocre plot, but the best plot in the world can’t save a mediocre character.  

That’s it, writers. Oh, wait, Bonnie! I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t ask what the stars held for Cathy C. Hall! So, what do you see? Will I ever finish that YA manuscript? Not that my life’s sucky like Logan’s, but I wouldn’t mind a change of pace, er, page!

Bonnie’s advice for this Libra writer? You’d better. Stop trying to make it perfect, and just get it down!

Thanks, Bonnie. You’re so right. And that’s good advice, no matter what your sign is!

Want a chance to read Aries Rising? Leave a comment here at Finders and Keepers this week. Friday morning, I’ll draw a winner. Don’t forget to leave some kind of contact info, in case you win. And your astrological sign doesn’t count!

23 thoughts on “Finding Five YA Answers with Bonnie Hearn Hill

  1. Now I’m wondering what she would advise for a perfectionist Capricorn like me.

    This sounds like a fun read. There are way too many good YA books coming out right now–it’s hard to keep up!

    • Um, Beth, see reply to the first Beth 🙂

      (Though I have moved on beyond the umpteenth rewrite of the first few chapters. Coincidentally, after Bonnie answered my questions!) 🙂

  2. Hi Cathy,
    Great interview. Great advice about character, character, character. It is so true. The most memorable books I’ve read have had wonderful characters. I love the idea of an astrological series. I’m a Gemini, if that counts for anything.
    Donna V.

  3. As a fellow Libra, I’m going to take Bonnie’s advice for Cathy to finally declare my novel finished. It’s hard to let it go, isn’t it? I’d never considered YA until Cathy told me about s contest and started an idea popping around in my head. I’d always been reluctant…that I wasn’t YA enough but maybe I’ll take Bonnie’s advice and just focus on character and see where it takes me.

  4. Great interview! Always glad to learn about new YA books and this series is going right on my list to read.

  5. The astrology hook is a good idea for a series. Also interesting: the girl on the cover looks like a young Renee Fleming.

  6. Great minds think alike! 🙂 Such a great hook here-I predict teens will love this astrology series. (And I didn’t have to check the stars to come up with that!)

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