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An Inside Look at the CITY OF LEGENDS series

A guest post from one of my favorite author-friends, Cheyanne Young.

· Writers Life,Sci-fi and Fantasy
Do you like superheroes? I definitely do. I'm obsessed with the entire Marvel-movie universe (seriously, when will Black Widow get her own movie, people?!!)
I also adore YA books (no surprise there), and I'm always down for a spunky, strong heroine who kicks butt, makes me laugh, and has flaws like real people.
If you are too, look no farther than Cheyanne Young's impressive list of novels. She's the author of several YA books, like MOTOCROSS ME and UNDERSTUDY. Today, she's also celebrating the book birthday of her new CITY OF LEGENDS series, a YA action-adventure that features Maci Knight, a feisty, super-powered teen.
All Maci has ever wanted is to be a Hero, just like her dad, brother, and BFF. So when her Hero test ends disastrously and she’s accused of being (yikes!) a villain, she teams up with brainiac inventor (and cutie) Evan to clear her name. I had a blast reading my advanced copy! If you like the Supergirl TV show, this series is perfect for you.
In honor of the big day, Cheyanne's going to share an inside look into how she started writing the series. Please welcome her to the blog!
Welcome, Cheyanne!
Hi there! I’m Cheyanne Young, author of the City of Legends series. I’m so excited to be guest posting for A.N. Willis’ blog and I want to thank her for having me here! (Let’s take a second to admire how cool her website looks. I love it.)
As I’m celebrating the release day of the City of Legends series, I wanted to take a step back and reflect on how far this story has come since the day it first appeared in my mind. It was in June 2012 when I first got the idea to write about superheroes. I remember it clearly because I was home sick in bed and had spent the whole day watching a certain trilogy of superhero movies, which will remain nameless (if your spidey sense tingles, maybe you’ll figure it out) and I very clearly remember thinking, “I could write a better story than this.”
It must have been the fever talking, because I’m not usually that cocky. I am also not a superhero writer—at least I wasn’t back then. I was very firmly a YA contemporary writer and had never imagined I’d write anything else. And then Maci Knight appeared in my mind.
She was wearing a black and white superhero suit, had her arms crossed, and was staring at me, tapping her foot. She wanted her story told and I was supposed to tell it.
The funny thing is that the original Maci Knight didn’t have powers. She had a twin brother, Max, who had taken all of the super powers in the womb, and left her as a powerless human in a world of superheroes. But she wanted to be a Hero . . . she wanted it bad. That’s all she would tell me. She’d glare at me in the forefront of my mind, demanding to be a Hero. Even as the side characters formed, like Crimson, who is and always has been the exact same character she is today, and Nyx, who was originally mute, Maci would remain there, stubborn as ever, demanding to be a Hero.
My writer’s brain began conjuring up their story, history, and their home in the Grand Canyon. I would apologize to Maci and tell her she can’t be a Hero without powers. I thought about maybe giving her some kind of utility belt ala Batman so that she could help with Hero missions, but she held her head up and refused it.
Everything I tried to plot for this fledgling story in my mind would end up falling apart after only a couple of chapters. Maybe I couldn’t write a better superhero story than those movies I watched. Maci wasn’t having any of it. She’s incredibly stubborn, as you’ll see in City of Legends. All I knew was two things: (1) Maci wasn’t a Hero though she desperately wanted to be and (2) Maci had a twin.
And then, finally, Maci talked to me. She showed me her power, which ran through silvery veins in her body. Then she showed me how much she admired and loved Max. Max wasn’t her twin. Her twin was dead.
With that new information, the story finally came together. Evil twins were very much real in this world. And that’s why she couldn’t be a Hero—no one knew if she was the evil twin or not.
And then, of course, everything after that was super easy and came together perfectly and nothing had to be edited or fixed at all. (Okay, maybe not really.) The story went through multiple versions and revisions until it became the story you get to read today. And it was often hard and gave me headaches. But it also made me feel alive to be writing a book that I cared so much about. And that is the beauty of being a writer. It’s a lot like exercising—you can hate it while you’re doing it, but the end result is so worth it.
Thanks so much, Cheyanne! You can find CITY OF LEGENDS here, and don't miss the sequel THE VALIANT, as well as the final book in the trilogy, EMPIRE RISING. They're all available today from Alloy Entertainment!
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