Inspirations and Influences YA Appreciation Month

Young Adult Appreciation Month: Karen Mahoney on writing Young Adult Novels (and a giveaway)

Karen Mahoney ( a.k.a. Official Honorary Book Smuggler) is a Young Adult writer whose first story, Falling to Ash has been published in The Eternal Kiss Anthology (reviewed today by Ana) . She is also one of the Deadline Dames and can be found writing about writing, reading and other cool stuff in her livejournal. When we were organising the YA month ,we just knew we would invite her over.

We are more than happy to give the floor to Karen Mahoney and her post on writing YA.

Eternal Teenagers

I write YA fiction because every time I sit down to write something, my characters turn out to be 17 or 18. Apparently, this means I write YA. πŸ˜‰ I think I’m drawn to these ages because this is when a lot happened in my own life, and those experiences always seem more important and powerful when you’re going through all the inevitable changes that the teenage years bring. All those ‘first times’ that we go through… It makes for wonderful drama and conflict in fiction. The potential for emotional writing is huge, and I love writing big emotional scenes. I remember how brave I could be at 17 – there’s a fearless quality to being a teenager that I wish I could get back.

I used to work with older teens, as a student advisor, and I learned so much during that time. I think it was then that I realised I wanted to focus on the teenage years in my fiction. Now that I’m writing YA urban/contemporary fantasy, I can allow my imagination to soar while still grounding myself in the very real issues of what it’s like to be growing up in today’s society. To think that I’m writing books and stories that might one day be read by young adults who experience things so passionately… that just blows me away!

My story in THE ETERNAL KISS, β€˜Falling to Ash’, is about an 18-year-old vampire called Moth. She was Turned into a vamp over a decade ago, so she’s really a 28-year-old woman stuck in the body of a teenager. I love thinking about all the questions and issues that raises: imagine being trapped as a teenager for eternity… How would you change and grow? Would you develop as a regular human being should do, or would you always be just a little immature? (Moth can be quite immature and impetuous, but at the same time the wisdom of her years shows through when she needs it.) How would it feel to see β€˜real’ teenagers enjoying life, while you just continue on the way you’ve always been? Never growing physically older, but perhaps feeling the weight of years as each one passes. Imagine how it would affect your family and friends. What would you tell them? Would you tell them? All these things I’ve explored with Moth, and packing it into 32 pages wasn’t easy! Luckily, I’ve now written a novel about her (BEAUTIFUL GHOSTS) which I hope will be picked up by a publisher one day. Watch this space… πŸ™‚


In her varied career Karen Mahoney has been a professional Tarot reader, a college counsellor, a dating agency consultant and a bookseller. Ever since she was six years old what she really wanted to be was Wonder Woman, but has instead settled for being a writer which she thinks is the most fun you can have without bulletproof bracelets.

Her YA contemporary fantasy, THE IRON WITCH (Book 1 of The Ironbridge Chronicles), is currently on submission in the US. Among other work she has recently completed a companion novel, BEAUTIFUL GHOSTS, which is set in the same world but completely stands alone. It continues the adventures of Moth, the teenage vampire who was introduced to readers in her recently published short story, ‘Falling to Ash’.

A huge thank you to Karen for the great post.

Now for the giveaway:

Karen is generously offering a signed copy of The Eternal Kiss to one lucky reader! The contest is open to anyone, and will run until Saturday August 1st 11:59pm (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here. Good luck!


  • Karen Mahoney
    July 29, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Just wanted to say again, thanks for having me! You rock!! But you know that anyway, right? πŸ˜‰

    If anyone has any questions about writing or… I dunno… life (!), I’ll pop back in and answer them later on.


  • Deltay
    July 29, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Moth – what a great name! The premise sounds really intriguing as well πŸ™‚

  • Chloe
    July 29, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Sounds like an awesome story! Moth is a really interesting name too. I’m a fan of just about anything with vampires, so I’d love to read it πŸ˜€

  • Sarah
    July 29, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    *Waves at Karen* I stalk you on twitter too – would love to win this. Congrats on the book!

  • Beth
    July 29, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    What a great premise for the story. I think I’d tend to be a bit immature as well if I were Moth. Of course, I’m rather immature as it is now! πŸ™‚

  • Rob Charron
    July 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Hi πŸ™‚
    CONGRATULATIONS to you, Karen for your debut story FALLING TO ASH in this amazing novel!
    I am so looking forward to reading this book.
    So many talented writers!
    Thanks for having Karen here.
    And thank you Karen for the great contest.
    Love and best wishes

  • BrookeReviews
    July 29, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Kaz! Your story sounds awesome, and I can’t wait to read it. πŸ˜€

  • Jen D.
    July 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway! A tarot card reader…really? I think I like her already!


  • I Heart Book Gossip
    July 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Please count me in.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  • Donna S
    July 29, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Congrats on the release. It looks like a fantastic collection.

  • blodeuedd
    July 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Oh I am in. The series sounds great and I just love that cover. Stunning.

  • Sue
    July 29, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I want in! Thanks for sharing~

  • Neil Ford
    July 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    If I don’t win then I will definitely be ordering a copy. Was a little uncertain but the review earlier persuaded me to give it a try.

    – Neil.

  • Susan S.
    July 29, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Karen I’m 30 something & although I usually read more adult oriented stories-the description of your YA books; makes me want to read YA.The cover for Eternal Kiss is IMO breathtaking! Good luck with Iron Witch & Beautiful Ghosts. Happy Writing!

  • Nadia Lee
    July 29, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Count me in. The book sounds very interesting. If I don’t win it, I’ll have to order it. πŸ™‚

  • Sara M
    July 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Count me in!

  • Karen Mahoney
    July 29, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Wow, everyone is being so lovely! *waves to the lovely people*


    Thanks for all the great comments.


  • Dan
    July 29, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    A signed version contest that’s so easy to enter? I’m in.

  • Doug Knipe [SciFiGuy]
    July 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I have the book so don’t count me in, but I wanted to say it was nice seeing a profile of Karen and I hope the novel-length work of Moth sees print real soon as I quite liked the character in the short story. Publishers pay attention. We want this book!

  • Moth
    July 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Dude. Moth is my name. (;P)

  • alana
    July 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I’m in. πŸ™‚

  • Andrea
    July 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    This book is on my WL and I would love to read it!

  • Kimberly B.
    July 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    HI there! This anthology, and especially Karen’s contribution to it, sounds great! I’m always intrigued by the particular problems of vampires who are young enough (new enough?) to be within their own mortal lifetime, and the problems that their lack of aging would present.

  • Jamie
    July 29, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Congrats on your story!! I would love to win this!!

  • elizabeth
    July 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Please count me in to win, sounds like a good book.

    July 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    wpould love to read this!!!!!!!!!!

  • katiebabs
    July 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Now if I was stuck in a body of a thirteen year old I would be a bit upset because I would have no chest. And the acne! Unless vampires don’t get acne? Now that I think of it, they never mention if teen vampires can get acne.

  • Deidre
    July 29, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    This sounds like a totally awesome read. I’d love to win a copy πŸ™‚

  • Kate A
    July 29, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Sounds awesome! Sign me up πŸ˜€


  • Kate
    July 29, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    This looks really amazing. I would love to read it. Please enter me in the contest.


  • Jacqueline L.
    July 29, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Heh, my interest in reading YA stories probably stemmed from having worked with that age group. Reminded me of how to see things from their perspective. Congrats on the release!

  • Lisa B.
    July 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Congratulations again Karen! The Eternal Kiss sounds AMAZING! I can’t wait to read it…possibly my very own signed copy of it? Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

  • Mardel
    July 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Until some of my all-time favorite authors began writing YA, I hadn’t much in that genre. When I read a few of the YA novels, I was surprised at how much I like them, how suspenseful they were and relieved that some with “romance” was light enough to not clutter up the plot. (sometimes that happens in adult books) So now I am looking into more YA, especially Karen Mahoney’s. My question is this;

    You mentioned wanting to be Wonder Woman when you were growing up. (Iused to pretend I was Catwoman) Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge recently wrote a superhero novel- and it was very good. Is it possible that you might combine your dream of being Wonder Woman with your need to write and end up with a YA superhero book?

    I’m pretty sure that we are going to see more urban fantasy superhero based books, a whole new(ish) direction for writers to go in.

  • bridget3420
    July 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I really want to read this book!

  • orannia
    July 29, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Karen – all the best for the release of Falling to Ash! It sounds very interesting.

    I love reading YA, particularly books that deal with all that teenagers have to go through since I kind of skipped all that. I was one of those ‘toe the line’ teenagers and all that emotional angst that teenagers work through as they figure out who they are I’m working through now πŸ™‚ But better late than never πŸ™‚

    Oh, and all the best with The Iron Witch and Beautiful Ghosts ❗

  • danielle
    July 29, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    signed, you say….?

    sign me up, please!

  • Dottie
    July 29, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Karen and Ana!

    Eternal Kiss looks and sounds great! It’s on my TBR list.

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    Dottie πŸ™‚

  • Michelle M
    July 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Wow! Count me in. Fabulous post yesterday BTW

    You guys rock!!

  • Marial
    July 29, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Hi, please enter me. The cover is lovely. The h has such pale skin and scarlet lips.

  • sarac
    July 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Count me in. Very excited for this book.

  • RachaelfromNJ
    July 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Sounds great! So many great authors! Please enter me.

  • Rebecca B
    July 29, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Sounds fun! Please enter me in!

  • Jo
    July 29, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    What a brilliant idea for a story, I feel like a teen at times, dont look like one is the problem!!!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win

  • Tiah
    July 29, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    I’m 28 and I would love to be stuck with my body when I was 18. Sign me up for that! πŸ˜‰

  • Rhiannon Hart
    July 30, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I think I’m drawn to writing YA for 14-16 year olds cos that’s the age I was when I was ransacking the library for some good YA! Plus all the memories, too. It’s cathartic writing to/about your younger self.

  • Karen Mahoney
    July 30, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Hey Doug (SciFiGuy), thanks for the kind words! πŸ™‚ *prays that the publishers are listening*

    Moth: LOL!! Sorry about that. Hopefully there’s room for another Moth in the world?


  • Karen Mahoney
    July 30, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Mardel: Hi! Well, I grew up on superheroes and bought my first comic when I was 6 or 7 years old. Collected both Marvel and DC for many years (though I only read graphic novels & collections now). I’d LOVE to write a superhero book one day. I *have* written something that is superhero-inspired, though it’s not actually the same thing. That one’s a little more adult though.

    Jackie & Caitlin’s book is AWESOME! Another great YA superhero novel is by Sarah Cross (Dull Boy). Excellent stuff! πŸ™‚


  • Karen Mahoney
    July 30, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Orianna, thanks for the good wishes. And yeah, it’s never too late for angst (teen or otherwise). πŸ˜‰

  • maered
    July 30, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Hi Karen! I love superheroes, too, and am loving all the superhero movies that are out. What’s your favourite?

    Moth and her story looks good! πŸ˜€ I hope you find your publisher.

  • Karen Mahoney
    July 30, 2009 at 3:32 am

    My favourite superhero movie is actually the original Superman film. But then, I am old… πŸ˜‰

    I also love the first X-Men film and Spider-Man 2.

    One day I really hope to see a Wonder Woman movie – I’d be in geek heaven!


  • Raelena
    July 30, 2009 at 5:55 am

    count me in please!
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  • Aileen
    July 30, 2009 at 6:10 am

    I’m really excited for The Eternal Kiss.

  • Christina G
    July 30, 2009 at 6:38 am

    I would love a chance to win.:D

  • Alana Abbott
    July 30, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Thanks, Karen, for the great discussion on YA. All of the emotions packed into being a teen are part of what makes YA novels really appealing to read!

    Can’t wait to read “Falling to Ash”. πŸ™‚

  • Alana Abbott
    July 30, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Oh, just read up the thread — Karen, did you see the YA superhero novel HERO by Perry Moore? It’s very much about the identity politics part of the superhero venue (the main character is also gay, so sexual identity gets wrapped in), and it’s brilliant.

    I’ve also really enjoyed Jennifer Estep’s superhero romance novels in the “Bigtime” series.

  • Roxy
    July 30, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Count me in!

  • Courtney
    July 30, 2009 at 7:02 am

    This sounds like my kinda book! Can’t wait to read it!!

  • Margay
    July 30, 2009 at 7:09 am

    This looks like a great anthology and I just love the cover!

  • Llehn
    July 30, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I’d love to play please! Thanks!

  • BookFiend
    July 30, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Sounds like a good read. Thanks for the contest!

  • CrystalGB
    July 30, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Sounds like a great story. πŸ™‚

  • Jennifer K
    July 30, 2009 at 8:21 am

    This anthology looks so good!

  • Raina
    July 30, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Count me in!

  • Vorvolaka
    July 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I’m in!

  • Mishel
    July 30, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I love reading Karen’s blog. She’s awesome! I’m so glad one her stories are published. I’m very excited to read it in The Eternal Kiss.

    Thanks ladies for the chance!

    mishtakes AT gmail DOT com

  • Sharon K
    July 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Karen, I’ve not read any of your books yet, but they do sound interesting and I’ll have to add them to my TBR list.
    Thanks for being here,

  • jennygirl
    July 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Oh yes please! sounds like a great read.
    Thanks for the contest Ladies.


  • vickie
    July 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    sounds awesome sign me up

  • Tynga
    July 30, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Please sign me in I’m really looking foward to read it. So many great authors in 1 book!

  • Leann Luckett
    July 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I have to admit I have been watching the reviews on this book but have not seen a giveaway until now for it so yes sign me up.

  • Jake Lsewhere
    July 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

  • Bailey
    July 31, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I’d love to have a copy for my library! The teens here go crazy for supernatural books πŸ™‚

  • Christine
    July 31, 2009 at 8:26 am

    I have to agree with the others, “Moth” is a unique and fascinating name for a protagonist. That alone grabs a reader’s attention.

    I’m looking forward to reading your work and would love to win a copy of the Eternal Kiss to get me started!

  • Collette
    July 31, 2009 at 8:45 am

    This anthology looks great–it contains a lot of writers I already love. I’m looking forward reading Karen’s work–and hopefully falling in love with that too!

  • dancechica
    July 31, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    This anthology has a lot of cool authors in it. I would love to check it out.

  • YA Book Realm
    July 31, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I really want to read Karen Mahoney’s story. I hope that she does get a chance to publish her book continuing the story from the anthropology like Kim Harrison did with her new YA book. I would love to read this book.

    Please enter me. =)

  • Juliana Dias
    July 31, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I’ve just read your review, and now I’m more excited than I already was (and trust me, that was a lot!) to read this book!
    Please sign me in
    juiceb0xx at hotmail dot com

  • Bella
    July 31, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    I love the concept of this book and the cover is stunning. New — like so many — to YA (well, this time around, anyway), and so loving it!

    Thanks for the post and the contest!


  • Biki
    July 31, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    This sounds like a great story! It’s definitely going to be added to my ‘Must Read’ list.

  • Wanda
    July 31, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks!

  • Lori T
    July 31, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Karen~

    I have really been looking forward to reading this.

    Have a great weekend.

  • Karen Mahoney
    August 1, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Wow, I just read some more comments here and it’s so nice to see them all. πŸ™‚

    Thanks guys! I am buried deep in the Revision Cave as we speak, working on making my Moth book more shiny.


  • Erica
    August 1, 2009 at 7:27 am

    This book sounds amazing! I love the name Moth.

  • JenP
    August 1, 2009 at 7:28 am

    I’d love to win!

  • CupK8
    August 1, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Hey Karen! Thanks for sharing! I’m really intrigued by Moth’s story – usually when we get the I’m-a-vamp-I-never-grow-old issue it’s hundreds of years later when they’re in a totally different time, but when you’re still a “young” vampire, how do you deal with the years? Like when you’re 18, you feel SOOOO OLD and every year creeps by, and then suddenly you realize you’re almost 30 and freak out (well… not freak out, but one day you look at your mother with a distressed look on your face and whisper, “Mom, I’m almost 30.” And then she smacks you).

    Good luck with your novel! πŸ™‚

  • Adrienne
    August 1, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I’ve been waiting for my library to get this ^^ The premise is so intriguing, I love your individual take on the vampire. Enter me please~

  • Veronica Franco
    August 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I cant wait to read this! I love supernatural fiction πŸ˜€

  • Debbie
    August 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Please include me in your giveaway.

    August 3, 2009 at 11:00 am

    great post, kaz!! youre inspirational!! keep your zest…concerning getting back the fight you had in you at the fearless age of 17, i have no doubt you can gain it back. At full force. Just try. Take opportunities to show off you inner fearlessness. It’s all capped up in there, Kaz. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰
    H.A. Little

  • charity grants west yorkshire
    March 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Just a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding design and style. “Individuals may form communities, but it is institutions alone that can create a nation.” by Benjamin Disraeli. charity grants west yorkshire

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