Start Reading Brooding YA Hero by Carrie DiRisio (Illustrated by Linnea Gear)…

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Carrie DiRisio runs multiple popular social media accounts including @broodingYAhero, and is the social media intern for Serial Box Publishing. Her speaking engagements include talks at the Carnegie Library System of Pittsburgh, Western PA SCBWI workshops, and the upcoming YALSA national symposium. She proudly considers herself a Slytherin and aspiring Disney villainess, who also loves the color pink and making people laugh with funny GIFs. She resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she is currently pursuing her MBA in Digital Marketing.

@broodingYAhero

From the publisher: “Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?

Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love…”

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“Readers―and authors―will swoon and raise a perfectly arched and knowing eyebrow at this clever confection, narrated by an egotistical main character, about writing the perfect main character. With a tongue-in-cheek look at YA tropes, writers are subtly encouraged to expand the genre in a way that is more clever, more subtle, and more inclusive. I would tell you more, but Broody and I are about to meet-cute in an epilogue.” ― Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and Between the Lines

 

Narrative Interlude: Evil Appears!

 

There. The book was done. With at least twenty-seven adjectives and more than thirty perfectly necessary adverbs, it was certain to be a bestseller. Broody smiled at his masterpiece, his work of art, his autobiography. It was perfect. He should frame it. Or publish it. Maybe both.

But the room suddenly went cold, washed in a foreboding doom that smelled faintly of straw- berry lip gloss. The air carried with it the sweet sounds of last year’s biggest pop hit. Broody gasped, grabbed his book, and leapt to his feet. Only one character could be identified by her makeup right from the start of the novel. Good female characters always waited until after the plot dictated a makeover to start dressing up.

Only one character could make Broody quake in his (manly, and metaphorical) boots.

Blondie DeMeani appeared. He’d been right to be afraid.

As always, she was dressed flawlessly, perfectly made up, her blonde hair in lovely ringlets. No matter the time period or setting, Blondie always shone like a radioactive star that would probably kill you if you got too close. Broody would know. Blondie was . . . his evil ex-girlfriend.

Unlike a heroine, Blondie knew she was beautiful and flaunted it. Not one for nondescript adjectives, or mousey hair, she held her head high, like she deserved to be noticed. That, in part, was one of the many reasons why she was pure evil. Self-confidence in a female character was just horrifying. And if that weren’t evil enough, Blondie had also been known to have her own motivations, which sometimes included ignoring Broody’s own goals. And she’d even kissed multiple guys other than Broody!

Sometimes, she became stronger and more powerful after she’d gotten dumped. Totally ridiculous. Everyone knows that a woman with a broken heart should melt into a soft, mushy puddle of complete passivity in order to let plot happen.

Truly, Blondie was an archvillain. All of New Story City feared her sarcasm, her wrath, and her shopping sprees.

“What are you doing?” she asked Broody.

“I—I am . . .” He set his chin. “I am writing a book about how to become the most broody you can be.” He folded his arms. “And about being a hero. Which you would know nothing about.”

But when her eyebrow arched, Broody stepped back. He wasn’t scared. It would be ridiculous to be scared of a girl. He just moved backward because it was a cool thing to do, not because he was retreating.

“Sure,” Blondie purred. She was always purring. He sometimes wondered if she was a werekitten. “Of course you can write a book about yourself. That’s your favorite topic.”

“It is not!” he thundered, his eyes flashing. Broody was 5 percent rain cloud, on his father’s side. “I . . . have lots of other favorite topics.”

Her eyebrow quirked even higher. Broody cursed the fact she had gotten better marks than him in Eyebrow Expressions 101. Finally, she said, “Like what?”

“True love?”

“So you’re supportive of your love interest and that other guy in the love triangle finding happiness? Or your love interest running off with some other character who isn’t you?”

Broody clenched his fists. No. That wasn’t okay at all. How could he appear in the sequel if he was written out of the love triangle? He needed to be the hero of all relationships. It wasn’t about his ego; it was about preserving the main character status quo.

“Maybe,” Blondie said, “you should tell the reader how to become a main character.”

“What?” Broody’s eyebrows knitted together. Good. Finally, he’d remembered an expression from Eyebrow Class. Now, Blondie would remember he was a character not to be trifled with. Only the most badass characters got to have dynamic eyebrows. “Why would I do that?”

“Have you ever spoken to a supporting character?”

“Uh. Sure. Lots of times. You know, I ask them things like ‘Hey, what’s that cute new girl’s name?’ or ‘Yo, dude, give me a compliment.’”

Blondie’s eyebrow stayed lifted like a golden arch of judgment. “Wow. Those must be some fascinating conversations.”

“What else am I supposed to ask a supporting character about?” They didn’t have hopes or dreams or even the possibility of becoming a love interest.

“I don’t know. Have you ever considered treating them like every other character?” Blondie drawled, studying her nails. They were, of course, painted the perfect shade for her—the bloodred of her enemies. Broody would know. He was usually her enemy.

“No, because they’re supporting characters.” Broody spoke the words slowly, confused why Blondie was finding this such a hard concept to grasp.

Oh.

Right.

Though she sometimes played the role of the antagonist, usually Blondie was just a supporting character. She never had an arc or plot points or any character growth. Once in a while, the narrative taught her a lesson or punished her for partying and being a badly behaved teen.

Of course, the story never did that to him. Mainly because he was a dude, and therefore infinitely better than any female character.

Blondie made a great show of checking her nonexistent watch. “You done interior monologuing? Honestly, you main characters spend longer doing that than actually solving plot problems.”

“Yeah, well, at least we get to actually have plot,” he shot back. She flinched, pain widening her eyes. He must have struck a nerve he never knew she had. “I’m sorry. I . . . it’s just . . . weird being visited by my evil ex-girlfriend.”

Blondie paced around the room, examining the souvenirs and trophies from his billions of main character moments. “Broody, why am I so evil?”

“Well, you’re really good-looking, and you know it.” But after he responded, he realized he didn’t know what she’d meant. Was Blondie’s evil like his brooding? A very part of her being? Or did he just think she should be evil?

Ugh. He needed to get back in a book, and soon. He’d started an interior monologue like some wishy-washy main female character. Blondie was evil. Period.

A mirror flashed in front of him. Blondie spun it to show him his own reflection. “And you’re not good-looking?”

“Uh, well.” He rubbed his neck, and took a moment to shoot finger guns at the dashing guy in the mirror before replying. “You’re also very rich.”

“Yeah, so are you.”

“I guess.” Broody turned away from his reflection, though it was very difficult to stop staring into those beautiful lapis lazuli orbs, and went to his desk. “Blondie, you’re an ambitious, beautiful, powerful woman. You’re never going to be a protagonist.”

She whirled on her heel. “Just go back to writing your stupid book, Broody.” The door slammed shut behind her.

 
This excerpt from Brooding YA Hero (written by Carrie DiRisio and illustrated by Linnea Gear) is published here courtesy of the publisher. It should not be reprinted without permission.

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