Today, YA Guy is thrilled to host debut author Antje Hergt, whose MG novel DARINEL DRAGONHUNTER came out this June. Antje's talking about how to get young readers interested in a story, and I think her advice is sound (in fact, I need to follow it more often myself!). Plus, there's a great giveaway at the end of the post. So grab a seat and let's turn it over to Antje!
What are the qualities that attract young people to literature?
There’s no single answer to that, but one answer is humor. Another is adventure.
Those are two things I tried to combine in my first book, Darinel Dragonhunter: adventure and humor. Adventure is great, but who doesn’t like to laugh or at least smirk? The trick is in the combination of the two, so they don’t contradict each other. If the humor goes too far, the story can seem like a joke, which kills the adventure. You want a hero who is believable but not laughable. Funny and witty, but still brave enough to confront what’s thrown in his way. A great way to create this tension between humor and adventure is to toss a bit of absurdity into the mix.
When I finished my first draft, I stumbled across the “How to Train your Dragon” series by Cressida Cowell. (I’m talking about her great books and the audiobooks read by David Tennant, not what the movie industry made out of them.) These books offer a perfect example of how to combine adventure with humor. I was instantly hooked by Cowell’s humor and how she twisted the history and stereotypes to fit her hero and his mishaps. I also enjoyed how Cowell, working once again against stereotypes, portrays her dragons as selfish rather than evil. They are more like unruly pets than beasts that have to be fought and destroyed.
In Darinel Dragonhunter, I wanted to create a different kind of dragon, too. My dragon doesn’t even know how to fight, and needs a prince to teach him. Instead of fighting, he prefers an attentive audience to listen to his fairy tales. But that’s hard for him to get, since the knights coming to kill him just won’t sit down for a cup of tea and a good story.
As I said: adventure and humor. Even some absurdity. Those are the elements I’ve found will keep readers hooked.
Curious? Check out the cover of my e-book and enter to win a copy:
Prince Darinel is traveling--for what feels like forever. Expelled from his father’s kingdom, he just wants to find a new home. When a shadow lures him to a wealthy kingdom, he stays to discover more about the darkness, but the citizens are tight-lipped.
Their king welcomes the foreign Prince hoping that he will solve his two problems: the dragon and his strong-willed daughter. Coming from a warrior kingdom, Darinel despises violence, but charmed by Princess Tuskja’s dare, he sets out to confront the beast. Instead of finding a fierce dragon, he finds a friend. The dragon’s malicious humor and his love of fairy tales entangle Darinel in a summer of adventures.
In compliance with the king’s decree, Darinel is torn between his friendship with the dragon and his love for Princess Tuskja, whom he can only marry if he kills his friend. Before he can make a decision, the kingdom is under attack. Now it is up to the dragon to either help his friend or respect his wish to not interfere.
Antje Hergt is the author of DARINEL DRAGONHUNTER, a dragon tale with a twist. For more information about DARINEL DRAGONHUNTER, you can visit her webpage at http://www.antjehergt.com//, stop by her author page on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter as @AntjeHergt. DARINEL DRAGONHUNTER was released on June 21.