For those of you who want to read it, it's located right here. Or, you can read the Amazon review right here.
Either way you read it, I couldn't agree more with one of her main points: it's tough to write for teenage girl protagonists, and there are way too many of the "whiny girl" protagonists out there. I'm thankful I somehow escaped that trap...and it might have helped that I had a very critical 20-year-old daughter read it with an EXTREMELY critical eye (whether I wanted her to or not!)
Actually, it's funny to me that she should write that, because when I initially started writing the book, I very much entered into it in the stereotypical mode. I was caught up in the idea of the book, not the character. But something happened, as time went on, and I found myself deliberately writing against the grain (in fact, the opening chapter was added about a year into the process and very deliberately pokes fun at so many of the cliches that clog up the literary world, especially the overdone fascination with vampires and zombies.) As I mentioned on a guest blog post I wrote for Mary Ann Peden-Coveillo:
I originally intended to write the story as a strict YA thriller, with your stereotypical girly girl young pretty teen-ager who all these awful things happen to, but who somehow wins out in the end. But as I progressed with the story…about six or eight chapters in…the true Ashes16 increasingly started to assert herself. The character in my head wanted to become so much more than that. And one morning, as I was lying in bed dreaming about her life and her world, I realized, “Oh, wait. This is a girl with gender issues. This is a girl who really wants to be a boy. And not just any boy…she wants to be her dead brother.”
After that, to me, the book really came into focus. I had always viewed it as a ghost story, but in seeing who Ashes was, it became clear to me that the story was as much about being haunted by the memories of your past as it was about an actual haunting. When that fell into place, I realized the point behind Pictures of You was about giving voice to those hiding in the shadows—and not just voices of the non-corporeal variety. It’s about those who are unable to talk, or too scared to speak their own personal truth—for even if Ashes is a self-described YouTube addict with a very public social face, she still wears a mask. She still feels different, every day of her life. She’s still hiding a past she desperately needs to come to terms with and a sadness that she dares not reveal to anyone, especially herself.
So, thank you again, thistle_chaser, for your observations. Also the one about it being a "fiction book set in our world with just normal, average people in it." That was also an intention of the book, and I am really thrilled it accomplished that for you.
In other news, I am happy to report that Corb is officially feeling better. He starts back to work tomorrow...now that, he is not thrilled about...