The inspirations & challenges behind TRANSFER STUDENT, an intergalactic tale of beauty & the geek

I wrote the first draft of TRANSFER STUDENT in 2006 after my father-in-law died. It was a crazy, sad time. I was working at the Los Angeles Times on the re-opening of the Griffith Observatory [it had been closed for five years for renovations] and we were back-and-forth between LA and Fresno [a four hour drive from LA], more and more frequently as my father-in-law got worse and worse, eventually ending up on life support. His name was Ray. I named the Reathan word for “year” in his honor.

After Ray passed, just hours after, it was nighttime and my husband Joe, his mom and I all sat out on my mother-in-law’s patio and looked at the stars. She said she knew Ray was up there, one of the stars. And that’s all it took. I had the beginnings of a story about souls that traveled, that starjumped, through space. And I wanted to explore the idea of a parallel planet similar to Earth, a sister planet. Retha is that planet and an anagram for Earth.

There were other things that inspired the story too. Los Angeles was a major inspiration because I raised my kids there and I love the city. So I knew that the female protagonist would be from LA. And since I worked in entertainment for a time, I knew Beverly Hills would be a lot of fun to write about.

I also wrote about places I had more of a connection to––Griffith Park and Zuma beach. And lastly, a news story that unfolded over the years further inspired the plot as I wrote and rewrote Transfer Student.

This same news story is also why I decided to tell Transfer Student from two POVs, a teenage girl and a teenage boy alien. The news story profiled the hostilities surrounding a man who announced he would be having an operation to become a woman. Because he was an official in a municipality this was a very public, personal announcement. It made national news at the time. It captured my attention for a variety of reasons and I knew that I wanted to write a story about how the vessel that a soul inhabits doesn’t define it. A story that’s been written perhaps a million times, but I wanted to write about in a way that explored many things: what it means to love; what it means to be a boy or a girl; what it means to risk everything to become who you really are. Transfer Student is a classic fish-out-of-water story that I’ve written as a love letter to teens and also as a way for all of us to see a piece of ourselves in everyone we meet, no matter our differences, no matter what planet we call home.

As far as the actual writing of the story I had a few challenges. I had never written in a male POV. My early drafts really show that weakness. I always wrote Ashley in the first person. But, I’d always write Rhoe from the third person, as if I was literarily tip-toeing up to the first person present that he’s written in today.

I have no idea how many drafts I’ve written of Transfer Student. But I do know that in order to get to first person present I had to write in the third and past too so I could be sure that the first person present was the only way to tell the story I wanted to tell. There is nothing more immediate than first person present, in my humble opinion. And I want the reader to be on the journey as it happens. To feel and discover with the characters. I want the reader to starjump with the characters and experience the longing and awkwardness that comes when you try to figure out a new world. There was only one tense that would do––first person present.

I hope Transfer Student sounds like a story you’d like to read.


Transfer Student: The teleporting telescope

Congrats to @laurathomas61 the winner of an ebook of Transfer Student! Good luck to today’s tweeters. Giveaway rules at the end of the post!

Central to the story of TRANSFER STUDENT is Rhoe’s invention of the teleporting telescope. Here is a picture of the Zeiss Telescope at The Griffith Observatory.

In 2006, while working at The Los Angeles Times, I was helping to work on a multi-media feature covering the re-opening of The Griffith Observatory after it had been closed for a five-year renovation. This would be one of the inspirations for Transfer Student! Here is what is happening over the skies of Southern California as I type.

Today’s tour takes us to THE MIDNIGHT BOOKWORM! Go to her site and listen to the music that inspired the story and read an except then enter the EBOOK GIVEAWAY!…it’s easy 🙂

Here’s how to enter to WIN A TRANSFER STUDENT EBOOK TODAY! Just follow@Laurawriting and tweet:

Can’t wait to read Transfer Student by @Laurawriting Check out the Blog Tour & Giveaway! #teenreads #scifi #romance #ya

Leave a comment here or at THE MIDNIGHT BOOKWORM with your link. Winner announced here tomorrow!

Every week all comments are entered to win some great swag too! THIS WEEK’S SWAG: PIG IN SPACE PIGGY BANK, Griffith Observatory travel mug, a HOLLYWOOD MAP OF THE STARS, signed bookmarks, Griffith Park Observatory pen & postcards, Space Shuttle Anniversary commemorative coin, a CHOCOLATE MOON PIE, and more! Check out the weekly swag here:

THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY OPEN UNTIL MARCH 13! 6PM PST. 1 swag winner will be picked. Open internationally!
Squeee 🙂 

[Nearly Wordless Wednesday] Transfer Student: Meet Ashley…& New Swag

Congrats to @Beesha1 winner of a TRANSFER STUDENT EBOOK! Good luck to today’s tweeters! Here’s this week’s swag:) Details of how to enter the giveaways below!

THIS WEEK’S SWAG: PIG IN SPACE PIGGY BANK, Griffith Observatory travel mug, a HOLLYWOOD MAP OF THE STARS, signed bookmarks, Griffith Park Observatory pen & postcards, Space Shuttle Anniversary commemorative coin, a CHOCOLATE MOON PIE, and more! To win this week’s swag & enter to win today’s ebook check out today’s stop on the blog tour:

The wonderful, amazing Courtney Cole, author of THE BLOODSTONE SAGA!

In today’s excerpt Ashley takes a trip to The Griffith Observatory on The Field Trip from Hell and her whole life changes. Here’s a picture of the obelisk in front of the Griffith Observatory. 

The dude clutching the telescope on the obelisk is Galileo, he plays an important part in the story 🙂

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