Author Han Nolan is famed for her numerous YA novels including Crazy, If I Should Die Before I Wake and Born Blue. She is the recipient of many awards from publishing institutions such as Booklist, School Library Journal and the YALSA, and she has been praised for her honest depictions of teenagers' lives. With the release of her latest novel, Pregnant Pause, Nolan tackles the sensitive subject of teen pregnancy. Today, the author reveals why she choose to write about such a hot button topic and shares a look at her writing process.
Many people have asked me why I decided to write about teen pregnancy. After all, there are so many books, television shows, and movies out there right now on this subject, enough already! The truth is I didn’t choose to write about this topic, it chose me—eventually. That’s the way it always is with my writing. I can never just sit down and say, “Today I’m going to write about teen pregnancy.” When I do that, my writing is boring and sounds stupid even to me!
Usually my ideas are very vague—like shadows darting in and out of doors always just beyond my reach. So I’ll sit down with a thought about a baby and I’ll ask myself whose baby is this? What’s the baby like? What’s the mother like? What’s the father like? Are they happy with this baby? I have all kinds of questions that I try to answer for myself through my writing. Still, sometimes, even though I come up with the answers to these questions, the answers aren’t the right ones. How do I know this? Because the story still seems boring and stupid. It’s true that for years I had wanted to write a story about a certain baby, but I needed just the right parents for the baby I had in mind, and just the right story.
Every time I finish writing one book, and it’s time to start thinking about writing another one, I’ll sit down with all these vague ideas I’ve collected over the years and start playing with a couple of them by writing a chapter or two. If the chapter is exciting to me, and the story seems original, and the characters start to come alive for me, then I know I’ve got something. So for years I had been trying to write about the birth of this baby named Emma Rose, and trying to figure out the big story that would go with it. Each time I’d get a little closer but it was never quite right, so I’d put that story idea away and work on one of my other vague notions. Year after year I’d play around with the baby idea. Finally, a couple of years ago, I found the parents! As soon as I began to write about Eleanor and Lam I knew they would be the right parents for Emma Rose. As soon as I wrote that Eleanor would have to go live with Lam’s parents at a camp for overweight children, I knew I had my story, and finally, after years of working with those shadowy ideas off and on, the story just flowed out of me and it was written very quickly.
In my mind, this book is not really a story about teen pregnancy, although Eleanor is a teenager and she is pregnant. It’s a story about Eleanor, and Lam, and Emma Rose, and all the other characters in the book. You see, in the end, if a book isn’t about people, then it isn’t about anything. I hope you’ll enjoy reading Pregnant Pause. I had so much fun writing it.
- Han Nolan