I'm excited to have my friend and fellow author, JPC Allen as my guest on today's blog. Enjoy!
Writing YA Mysteries
by JPC Allen
I’ve loved mysteries since I first sat down in front of the TV on Saturday mornings to watch Scooby Doo. In the past two years, I’ve had two crime short stories published in anthologies from Mt. Zion Ridge Press. I could have written my short stories from any point of view, but I felt most comfortable writing from the POV of a teen. In the process of writing “Debt to Pay”, a country noir, and “A Rose from the Ashes,” a Christmas mystery, I learned some important lessons about writing mysteries for teens.
|Meet Author JPC Allen|
Teens make great amateur detectives.
Stories with amateur detectives have always attracted me because they are the ultimate underdog in mysteries. And I love underdog stories. Who could be more of an underdog than a teen, especially one who isn’t even a legal adult yet. Without the aid of official standing, fellow officers, or a crime lab, the amateur detective tries to solve a mystery relying soley on her intellect and abilities.
To make the amateur detective more believable as a character, I need to give her some qualities that she can apply to crime solving. She can have an insatiable curiosity or just plain nosiness. Maybe she can’t stand seeing someone bullied or has a deep desire for justice. If the mystery involves other teens, then the teen detective has an edge over the police because she can investigate in ways they can’t.
In “A Rose from the Ashes,” my teen detective, nineteen-year-old Rae Riley, shows great determination and courage as she tries to fulfill her late mother’s dying wish. She thinks if she uncovers who tried to murder her pregnant mother twenty years before, she may also discover the father she’s never met.
The investigation is about more than the investigation.
The teen detective’s pursuit of the mystery should mean more than just finding the answer. In the real world, the teen years are a time of change and discovery. Uniting those themes with a mystery makes for a richer story. The investigation can be a sign that he’s ready for more independence or responsibility. Or maybe he’s a loner, who learns to rely on friends. Many of these themes can be applied to mysteries with adult characters, but I find them more meaningful when used within a YA mystery.
In my story, Rae is desperate for a family since her mom died. She’s willing to take on a would-be killer if it leads to her father.
The teen detective must be active in the solution.
After following the teen detective through her investigation, I can’t have the police or some other adult solve it for her. Or, even worse, have the police rescue her from the criminal. Having the teen detective blunder so badly that she must be bailed out will only irritate readers.
That doesn’t mean the detective can’t make mistakes. The teen detective has to remain human. Only Sherlock Holmes can get away with perfect deductions. She doesn’t have to figure out every part of the mystery. She can unmask the criminal but maybe not understand all his motivations until after he’s arrested and questioned by the police. Or the criminal isn’t who she suspected, and when he comes after her, she captures him. But the teen detective must be essential to solving the mystery and never just a helpless bystander.
What are some of your favorite mysteries? I’d love to get some recommendations!
I’m holding a book giveaway on my site! Click here for details.
JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. A former children’s librarian, she is a member of ACFW and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts to beginning writers. She also leads writing workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. Join the adventure on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.
Christmas fiction off the beaten path
Not your Granny’s Christmas stories …
Step off the beaten path and enjoy six stories that look beyond the expected, the traditional, the tried-and-true.
Inspired by the song, “Mary Did You Know?” – a mother’s memories of events leading up to and following that one holy night. MARY DID YOU KNOW? By Patricia Meredith
A young woman seeking her own identity searches for the man who tried to kill her and her mother on Christmas Eve twenty years before. A ROSE FROM THE ASHES. By JPC Allen
Princess, tower, sorceress, dragon, brave knight, clever peasant – combine these ingredients into a Christmas-time story that isn’t quite what you’d expect. RETURN TO CALLIDORA. By Laurie Lucking
Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family. NOT THIS YEAR. By Sandra Merville Hart
Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life – and the echoes from that day continued to the present. THOSE WHO STAYED. By Ronnell Kay Gibson
A community of refugees, a brutal winter, a doorway to another world – a touch of magic creating holiday joy for others leads to a Christmas wish fulfilled. CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS. By Michelle L. Levigne
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