I'm excited to share a new feature on the blog of young adult and middle grade novels offering advice to our readers. I had such a great response to this when I posted about it online and I'm thrilled to begin this project.
I'd like to introduce YA fantasy author, Annie Sullivan to share her thoughts on what she wishes she had known when she was younger.
When I first set out to write books with for young adults with princesses, pirates, and thieves, I didn't know I'd be writing about issues—like bullying, gossip, and difficult family relationships—that kids today face all the time. So when I started writing A Touch of Gold about the cursed daughter of King Midas who faces pirates, sirens, and thieves on her quest to retrieve her father's stolen gold, I wanted to entertain readers.
However, like most authors, as I got further and further into writing and editing the book, I realized my main character, Kora, had a lot of my characteristics and faced many challenges that I had also faced as a child. She became a way to address those issues in a way that hopefully readers can learn from. Because as my writing evolved, my goal became creating books that would help kids escape a hard world and come back to it a little bit more ready to fight their own battles after seeing their favorite character take them on and win.
One way I did that in A Touch of Gold was have Princess Kora be an outcast in her society. As the daughter of King Midas, she was turned into a golden statue by her father when she was a young girl. Now, she's been turned back into a living, breathing human being, but she has some side effects from her time as a golden statue—like having golden skin and the ability to sense the other objects her father turned to gold. Due to this, rumors fly that she turns back into a golden statue at night, that she leaves golden footprints, and even that looking in her eyes can turn you to gold. With gossip like that, Kora has virtually no friends and a lot of enemies who want to see if her blood runs as a gold as the rest of her. Thus, she keeps to her father's palace, always wearing a veil and heavy gloves, but even in her own palace, the servants run in fear.
Yet, when Kora has to be the one to retrieve her father's stolen gold, she's forced to leave behind her palace and face the real world for the first time in years. She has to learn to get past the stares and mean words of others, and as she does, she discovers what makes her different is truly what makes her special. It's what gives her the ability to do what others can't. And too often in both real and fantasy worlds, people who look or act different are ostracized. But Kora's character makes the point that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that talent and power and morals can come from anyone—no matter their shape, size, color, or form.
So as I look back at A Touch of Gold and onward to other books, it's become clear to me that what I'd wish I'd known when I was younger, around Kora's age, is that each one of us has something that makes them special. Some people can draw pictures that look photographs. Others can play piano. And still others can make a basket from anywhere on the basketball court. But there are so many other things that people should be valued for too outside skills. Being able to forgive others, having compassion for animals, making strangers feel welcome, helping someone in need. These are all things that each person can showcase that will truly change the world—even if it's just the world for one person. So that's the takeaway message here: you can change the world. You don't need magic powers or the ability to fly. Just being yourself is enough.
Annie Sullivan is the author of three young adult fantasy books: A Touch of Gold, A Curse of Gold, and Tiger Queen. She grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and received her master's degree in Creative Writing from Butler University. She loves traveling, kickboxing, and anything related to Jane Austen. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter (@annsulliva), on Tik Tok (@authoranniesullivan), or on her blog: anniesullivanauthor.com.
Tik Tok: @authoranniesullivan
Find her book here on Amazon (affiliate link):
Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and Dating the It Guy.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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