While I’m waiting for Killer Cows to be released, I’m currently shopping around my next young adult novel, Shaken(though I'm thinking of changing the title). It’s about how a 9.7 earthquake (and subsequent tsunami) affects the lives of three troubled teens on one fateful night in a fictional coastal town.
Unlike the relatively upbeat and whimsical Killer Cows, this novel is a dark, violent homage to the disaster movies I loved as a kid (and still do), but this time through the eyes of these teenagers. While I love disaster movies and novels, their depictions of young people have always been pretty shallow. Either the characters are smarmy brats, helpless waifs, comic relief or so sickeningly sweet that they’d kill a diabetic.
Shaken tells its story almost exclusively through the eyes of these three teen characters. They don’t have snappy one-liners, don’t have any insights about their situation beyond their years, and definitely don’t provide funny or “awe, how cute” moments. I tried to make them as realistic as possible, meaning they aren’t always selflessly heroic, and often make the same errors in judgment real kids do (or real adults for that matter). Much of the book is about the personal changes these characters undergo in an extreme crisis.
At the same time, I wanted the novel to be loaded with the same action, destruction and violence as the FX-laden movies I love. Some of you may have noticed I have been comparing Shaken to movies, not other books. There’s a reason for that. Yes, I think there are some important themes of personal discovery present, but mostly, the book is intended to be fast and furious, best appreciated if read in one sitting (which a good reader could probably do in a couple of hours). In my queries to agents and publishers, I’ve called it Die Hard for kids.