Nina Laurin is a bilingual author of suspenseful stories for both adults and young adults. She got her BA in Creative Writing at Concordia University, in her hometown of Montreal, Canada. Her debut, GIRL LAST SEEN, was released June 20, 2017 from Grand Central Publishing.
Social media is full of publishing professionals telling aspiring writers not to write to trends. Which can be a frustrating Catch-22 if you’re an unpublished writer in the query trenches. On one hand, they keep saying they want more of this or that popular thing—and then they go and tell you not to write to trends! So which is it?
Truth is, there are lots of reasons not to write to trends. Including the obvious ones: for example, it takes a book up to three years to be published, and in that time, the trend might end. Womp-womp. But writing to trends is also not that great for you as a writer—as I learned at my own expense.
When I first set out on the journey to traditional publication, a little over five years ago, I did everything you’re supposed to do. I studied craft, I researched, I read extensively. I focused my reading on the category and subgenre I decided to write in. I picked up the most successful books and analyzed them with (what I thought was) a critical eye. All I had to do was figure out the formula behind their success and recreate it with a personal touch. That’s what all the articles on writing tell you to do… right?
Unfortunately, the stories I produced to fit the “formula” never seemed to go anywhere. Either I got bored with them by chapter five, or, if I did complete them, they collected rejections. Maybe because the agents I queried, and even the beta readers I used, could detect the lack of soul. Sadly, no creative writing manual can teach you how to fake that.
After a while, I realized I wasn’t enjoying reading as much as I used to, and writing has become joyless work, not to mention a major source of stress. The activity that once brought me so much happiness and helped me escape from the real world had now become a burden. That’s when I knew things had to change.
I did a lot of soul-searching—and a lot of deleting stuff from my hard drive, which was even less fun than the soul-searching. I realized, in the end, that I was trying to write to a trend, and I had to stop.
Letting go of all that—the thrill of the chase, of feverishly writing what you think might be the Next Big Thing, and all the big hopes that come with it—was tough. But I finally understood why you shouldn’t try to shoehorn your writing into a trend. My chosen genre started to feel confining and ultimately unsatisfying—not because there was anything wrong with it, but because it didn’t suit the stories I wanted to write.
I learned to accept the fact that my stories weren’t meant to fit any one mold. And so what? Maybe I didn’t want to be the next So-and-so—I wanted to be the first, well, me. I finally felt like I was writing for the right reasons, and being true to the stories I was telling.
And I think some of that realness trickled down into my prose, because for the first time, I started to get genuinely positive reactions.
My most memorable meeting with a writer was, without a doubt, Gillian Flynn! I’ve been a fan for ages—she’s the kind of rebel-writer I aspire to be, and proof that you can be successful without following trends. At Thrillerfest 2016, I finally got to meet her at a book signing, for all of 10 seconds. And of course, I was so star-struck that I completely froze! So, on the off-chance you ever see this, Gillian Flynn, I’m really not as big a dork as I come across.
Girl Last Seen
Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.
I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can't bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.
If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw's whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact...
I've spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.
Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn't been another girl.
And now there is.
Where to Buy Girl Last Seen
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.