I'm really excited about this tour. It's for Kate Avelynn's Flawed and today I have a guest post that she wrote on Balancing Romance in Dark YA. She gives a lot of great insight on the topic! I found it really interesting and I think you will too. So without further introduction here's the kick-ace guest post!
So glad to be here today, Tess! Lots of authors want to know how to balance romance with the darker elements inherent in gritty YA. Honestly, I think this will depend on the specific author and how much emphasis they want to put on romance vs. the darkness they’re trying to create, as well as what purpose the romance will serve in the story. For some authors, the dark elements are part of the romance (a boyfriend who abuses his girlfriend, for example), while others go the route I did (the romantic interest supports the abused character while they break free). The key, in my opinion, is to know exactly what purpose your romantic interest serves in the story, and incorporate him or her from there.
I went into FLAWED knowing it would be too dark to appeal to anyone if Sarah didn’t have something to hope for—something that made her want to step out into the world and try something new. A story doesn’t begin until there’s a trigger for change, and in Sarah’s case, that trigger was finally catching the eye of the boy she’s wanted forever. Sam.
That decided, I looked at what Sarah needed from Sam. She’s been trapped (in her house, in her restrictive clothing, in her life) for so long, he had to be her escape. She needed to experience real love so she understood the difference between what she had with her brother and what love is supposed to feel like. She needed to be with someone who would challenge her.
I took all these things and looked at the story. Sarah exists in three worlds: one in which her father has all the control, one in which James has all the control, and one in which she’s alone, usually hiding in her room. Romance only fits into that last world, so I knew that’s where Sam would be. He dragged that third world out of her bedroom and opened up her life to new possibilities. Any firsts she needed to experience, he was there. Any time she needed support or a kick in the pants to make a change, he was there. And whenever she needed to lose herself in warm arms and hot kisses, he was there.
Could I have taken this book a different direction? Definitely. In fact, several editors asked that I take out the romance and focus on Sarah’s emotional awakening. Others asked that I take out most of the darkness and focus on the romance. In the end, neither direction fit my vision for the book, so I went with the balance that felt right. I hope readers enjoy FLAWED’s balance between darkness and romance!
About the Author:
Kate Avelynn lives in Central Oregon with her husband, whom she fell in love with at eighteen after realizing he shared her obsession with music, sports, and psychoanalysis. When not devouring books, holding down her editing gig, or attempting to coax life out of the weed patch she calls a “garden,” Kate writes dark, young adult romance that blends first love, betrayal, and danger. FLAWED is her debut novel.
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FLAWED by Kate Avelynn
Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago—James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely.Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.Sam Donavon has been James’s best friend—and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on—for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realize James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact…
And now for the prizes! Kate is giving away a FLAWED swag pack (dog tag, tattoos, guitar pick, magnets) to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment recommending YA books you’ve read that do a good job of balancing the romance with darkness, along with your email address. Today’s giveaway is only open to US residents, but keep an eye out for International giveaways scheduled throughout the tour.
Kate is also running an Ultimate FLAWED Fan Pack contest via the Rafflecopter listing below. Enter daily for a chance to win some really cool stuff!