Today we have a very special post from Lorie Langdon, best-selling young adult fiction novelist. Her newest novel, the historical retelling Olivia Twist, is in stores now.
Some people are born to fit in. You know the ones. They arrive for kindergarten in a classic sweater with deep, abiding confidence. It draws people into their light like moths. Even the teachers give them special privileges such as taking notes to the office or passing out afternoon snacks. Soon, the classroom ebbs and flows to their moods and wishes.
Me? I showed up the first day of school wearing a bright red jumpsuit with sheer rainbow sleeves. Before I left the house, I distinctly remember thinking I looked super fly. True, my bangs were a fraction too high because of my mom’s overzealous trimming session the night before. But, red was my favorite color and I loved the way the flowing sleeves landed on my shoulders like butterflies.
Needless to say, there were no other rainbow-butterflies present that year. Or any other. I searched for years, hovering on the fringes of many different groups. But I found I was too self-aware to fit in with the geeks, not athletic enough for the jocks, and not apathetic enough for the slackers. I was too independent for the popular clique whose moth mentality demanded complete conformity. I finally joined the drama club, but wasn’t brave enough to fully participate, so I was relegated to backstage crews. Again, on the outside looking in. Again, feeling not good enough.
My school years, all the way through college, were not easy. I continued to struggle with feelings of inferiority. Everyone seemed to have something
they were good at, something they bonded with others over, someplace where they fit in.
I continued to search. However, it wasn’t until years later that I found my passion for writing. In pursing my goal to become a published author, discovered other creative, head-in-the clouds writer people. I’m not sure if any of them wore a rainbow-butterfly jumpsuit the first day of kindergarten, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had.
Because of how my background has shaped my worldview, I tend to write characters who are on the fringes, many of them struggling with self-doubts. They are criminals, cheerleaders, royalty
, and orphans, dealing with abandonment issues and aching loneliness. Like so many of us, they are searching for their purpose.
I drew on this outsider mentality when developing the characters in my upcoming historical retelling, Olivia Twist
. Olivia and Jack are straddling two worlds—their dark pasts as orphan street thieves and the new glittering world of privilege they have entered in Victorian London. Neither of them fit in fully to either world.
As one reviewer asserted, Jack ‘The Artful Dodger’ MacCarron is “balancing a life of high social standing and finding it a bit like a sweater with sleeves too long for him”. He puts on the mask of a well-mannered gentleman while sneaking off from every party to rob his hosts of their most valuable possessions.
Olivia ‘Twist’ Brownlow was born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, until her life goes from stealing in knickers to lavish dinners in elegant gowns as a debutante in high society. But she can’t forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrape to survive.
Like many of us, these characters in Olivia Twist are on the outside, knowing they don’t fit in and not sure they want to. What I’ve learned, and what many of my characters grow to learn, is that it’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s kind of wonderful to have a unique perspective. These are the individuals who bring the light of change, who inspire others to become more than they knew they could be.
This is why I write young adult fiction; to show all those rainbow-butterflies out there that they are not alone, to give them hope thatthey will find their place in the world. Even if it’s like Jack and Olivia and not quite where they expect.
Lorie Langdon is the Amazon best-selling author of YA novels such as; the Doon Series, Gilt Hollow, and the upcoming historical retelling, Olivia Twist, which has received a starred review from Booklist Magazine and will be sold in Target Stores across the nation. She has been featured on such media outlets as; USAToday.com, NPR Radio, EntertainmentWeekly.com, RedbookMagazine.com, Girl’s Life Magazine, and BroadwayWorld.com. Her first novel, Doon, has over 2,200 five-star reviews on Goodreads and has been optioned for film by Dreamstreet and Lonetree Entertainment. She is a self-professed Wonder Woman Wannabe who lives in Ohio with her husband and two superhero obsessed teenage sons.
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