Michelle Gagnon has been a modern dancer, a dog walker, a bartender, a freelance journalist, a personal trainer, and a model. Her bestselling thrillers for adults have been published in numerous countries and include The Tunnels, Boneyard, The Gatekeeper, and Kidnap & Ransom.
Don't Turn Around, her first novel for young adults, was published this summer.
From Gagnon's Q & A with Noah Charney at The Daily Beast:
You’ve mostly written adult thrillers, but now have a young-adult (YA) book coming out. How did you approach writing for a younger audience?Visit Michelle Gagnon's website.
I find YA writing to be very similar, by and large. I did hit a few stumbling blocks, because in my other series the main characters were an FBI agent and security consultant, adults with resources and training at their disposal, and the authority to back up their actions. Teenagers don’t have those advantages. One of the reasons I switched to YA for this series was that a friend pointed out that I’ve had a strong teen character in nearly all of my adult thrillers, and he suggested I try writing an entire thriller from that point of view.
The most striking difference was during the editing process. According to my editor, I couldn’t have any scenes from an adult perspective. In Don’t Turn Around, I had originally written a few scenes through the eyes of a character who served as a sort of surrogate older brother for my hero. We ended up excising those. There was also a scene between a Boston fire chief and a security guard that had to be shifted so that Noa, my heroine, observed what happened (rather than using an omniscient narrator). I don’t write a lot of sexual situations in any of my books, so I didn’t have to edit out anything like that. In thrillers, I always find that those scenes slow down the action. Clearly, I’m never going to write "50 shades of" anything…
What has to happen on page one, and in chapter one, to make for a successful thriller that urges you to read on?
That’s usually the only part of the book that, when...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: The Tunnels.
The Page 69 Test: Boneyard.
The Page 69 Test: Kidnap & Ransom.
The Page 69 Test: Don't Turn Around.