Today’s Wednesday Writers’ guest is author Julie Arduini with a post about the characters behind the character in her book YA book You’re Brilliant from her Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series and an excerpt from the book. Welcome, Julie!
Character Inspiration Behind You’re Brilliant
You’re Brilliant is the final book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series for young teens and women of all ages. Although it can be read as a stand-alone, You’re Brilliant moves forward with the girls and their mentors from the Linked mentoring ministry in Youngstown, Ohio. Each book focused on one girl and her mentor, and this time it’s Bethany Tuttle and her mentor, pastor’s wife Cheri Wayson.
What I loved about this series was writing it with my teen daughter, Hannah. It was her brainchild as she processed the challenges of middle school and wanted to help other girls avoid the lies she believed at that time. When Hannah jotted out the story what she ended up with was a three-book series. She supervised the vision for each book, approving my chapters. She created character names and oversaw the cover design. It really was a team effort.
The characters were fun because Hannah loosely based them off her friends. She’s had a solid group of girls from church who have encouraged her, so she had to narrow it down. Hannah took a couple qualities from two girls who have been in her life the longest. In You’re Beautiful, Hayley is based off Hannah herself, but as we wrote, I found my own teen years coming to mind. Some of those experiences are things we went through.
You’re Amazing was a challenge to write because we aren’t dancers and we weren’t sure what specific conflicts to give the girls. As we chatted, we realized that girls and women both struggle with what one person might say and change everything. How much power we give with opinion. Jazmin is a gifted dancer but has some changes to get used to, including a new teacher. The teacher makes a negative comment, and Jazmin’s thrown. It really affects her. Although the real Jazmin hasn’t had that challenge that we’re aware of, we took her dancing gift and made that the core of the story.
You’re Brilliant is Bethany’s story. Our Bethany is a natural at comedy, but the sass that gets her in trouble is something more from our imagination and a little bit of my own experience. KJ came from a reader who requested we write a thread that includes a confident teen blinded by a bully boyfriend. That was something Hannah agreed girls her age deal with—being so beautiful and talented and a boy says something toxic and the girl emotionally crumbles. It was hard to write that, but we felt it was important.
As for the adults, Sabrina is based off a family that loves unconditionally and is active in ministry. She’s a dear friend to me. Lena is a mix of every mother of young children I know because for years I was active with MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers. I remember the insecurity I had as a wife and mom back then, and how I wanted to please everyone to my own exhaustion. Cheri is a pastor’s wife that Hannah and I both know. Although the real Cheri took a job at school, it wasn’t to pay for a wedding, nor did she make mistakes trying to find her place. For us, our characters take the best of people we know to honor them. Any villains are mixes of people we’ve encountered or seen in media.
I’m sad to see the series end, Hannah is as well. I thank God He gave us the series to not only encourage readers, but grow my relationship with Hannah and let her creativity blossom.
You’re Brilliant Blurb: YA/Women’s Fiction
by Julie Arduini
Amazing things happen when a group of high school students and women discover they are more than competent.
Bethany’s not excited to start high school in a new community where she doesn’t know anyone. She quickly befriends KJ, a popular sophomore, and it looks like the transition will go well until Bethany discovers KJ’s boyfriend is a bully. With a strong sense of justice, Bethany challenges Brent Sullivan, and he’s determined to make her suffer.
Cheri takes on an additional job in a school to help pay for Sabrina’s wedding. It’s a different atmosphere than at the church where she feels more comfortable as the pastor’s wife and mentor with the Linked ministry. After several mishaps, Cheri feels like she’s found an assignment where she can make a difference until a teacher belittles her work.
Can Bethany and Cheri resist the lies about their competency and hold on to the fact they’re brilliant?
The final book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series for tweens, teens, and women of all ages by mother and daughter authors Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini.
One glimpse at the sprawling Boardman Valley High School campus and my throat starts to close. It’s my first time here and what a fortress. It’s twice the size of my old school. So many windows. Multiple parking lots. Three athletic fields. There’s even an attached brick circular amphitheater to house the enormous drama and musical talent the Youngstown suburb is known for. What am I doing here? Oh, right. My parents moved and this is the closest school district. Where I know no one.
Students fresh off the bus travel to the main entrance. I’m trapped in the middle of the swarm, moving with the wave of peers, my anxiety escalating with each step. Even if I wanted to yell for help, I wouldn’t be heard over the buzz of first day chit chat filling the lobby.
A boy with a head full of curls and wearing a Saturday Night Live shirt bumps into my side. “Hey, tourist. If you don’t know where you’re going, step to the side.”
“Sorry. Did my fanny pack give me away?” I smile at my attempt at humor, but no one chuckles or even looks in my direction. There’s so much movement. “Say, are we students or cattle?” My voice rises above the fray, but I sound like a squeaky kid.
“Keep mooo—ving funny girl.” The tall blonde surrounded by three girls mimicking her every move, throws her head back and laughs. Her minions follow her lead and they’re giggling with her.
I’m not as agile as my friend Jazmin, but I’ve got stealth working for me. With a few ducks and weaves, I exit the throng of people and slam against the wall next to the office.
A slim, tall girl with shiny, straight brown hair is about to approach the receptionist when she looks my way and tilts her head. “Are you Bethany Tuttle?”
I raise my eyebrows. How does she know my name?
She gestures me forward. “C’mon. I’m KJ Curry. I’m the student council rep the vice-principal lassoed into keeping you corralled.” Her expression is sober for about a second before she breaks into a chuckle.
KJ heard my cattle joke. And thank God, she thinks I’m funny.
Want to read more? You can find You’re Brilliant at Amazon
About the Author
Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the contemporary romance series SURRENDERING TIME, (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged,) as well as the stand-alone novellas, MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. Her other latest release, YOU’RE BRILLIANT, is for girls ages 10-100, written with her teenaged daughter, Hannah, and is book 3 in their SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ series. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, as well as monthly with Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to opt in to her content full of resources and giveaway opportunities.