New Voice: Nicole McInnes on Brianna on the Brink

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Nicole McInnes

is the first-time author of Brianna on the Brink
(Holiday House, 2013)(excerpt). From the promotional copy:

Sixteen-year-old Brianna Taylor finds herself lost, alone and with a major surprise in store after a one-night-stand. 

Just when she’s got nowhere left to turn, help arrives from the one person who is closest to her big mistake, but accepting that help will leave Brianna forced to choose between clinging to the ledge of fear and abandonment – or jumping into the unknown where a second chance at hope might just be waiting.

In writing your story, did you ever find yourself concerned with how to best approach “edgy” behavior on the part of your characters? If so, what were your thoughts, and what did you conclude? Why do you think your decision was the right one?

Since my novel deals with the consequences of a teen girl’s reckless one-night stand, I definitely felt the need to set the bar to “edgy” and then to vault over that bar. I knew I wasn’t writing for a middle grade audience, but I wasn’t quite writing for adults, either. So, there was this balancing act of approaching the subject of sex in a realistic but not gratuitous way.

Ultimately, I decided that the way to do this was to just be as straightforward as possible about the thoughts, feelings, reactions and plans (or lack thereof) that so often surround teen sexuality. For me, this was the right way to go, and reader reactions seem to indicate that these elements come across as realistic and not just there for shock value.

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?

Promotion has been a fun, if somewhat daunting, process for my debut novel. There’s a bit of a “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” mentality that I think many debut authors have, and this is fine. How else is one supposed to figure out what does and doesn’t work?

For Brianna on the Brink, I’ve been focusing my efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and my own website. The ideas come either from the mother wit or from researching like mad.

Cynsations has actually been a great resource for me this year. I try to keep promotion from feeling like a chore by treating it as a kind of play. It’s my time to interact with other readers and writers, and to find out what books are being talked about at any given moment.

My advice to other debut authors is twofold: First, put your promotional energy toward things that come naturally and that you find enjoyable. Second, push the envelope and your comfort zone a little, even if a particular avenue seems daunting. Afraid of Twitter? Try it for a while! Give it a chance, and see what fun it can be.

For the record, I was one of those “I just don’t get it” people when it came to Twitter. I just didn’t see the point. Now, it’s my favorite way to interact online.

Cynsational Notes

Nicole says: “Here is a picture of Hermie the Magnificent, AKA Hermie the Fierce (as if – she might drown an unsuspecting burglar in enthusiastic drool, but that would be the extent of her ferocity). She is the president (and sole member) of the Official Nicole McInnes Adoration Club. Every author should be so lucky.”

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