Check out our special guest post by Mindee Arnett, author of The Nightmare Affair – and stay tuned for information on an exciting giveaway!
Bringing the Teen in ‘The Nightmare Affair’ by Mindee Arnett
For a lot of readers new to The Nightmare Affair, the most notable thing about the main character, Dusty, is that she’s half-human, half-nightmare. This isn’t surprising, considering that nightmares aren’t very common in the supernatural creature cannon of teen fiction populated by vampires, werewolves, witches, and fairies.
But the concept of a nightmare isn’t a new one. The idea of a being that sits on your chest and brings you bad dreams comes from ancient Germanic folklore as well as several others. The nightmares in my story resemble these ancient beings to some extent, although my nightmares are not inherently evil. Their need to “dream-feed” as it’s called, is just that— a physiological (read: magical) need.
For me, however, the most notable thing about Dusty is her normal teenage-ness. When I’m writing her perspective, she is always a teen girl first and a nightmare second. She sees herself as a normal girl with an unusual lifestyle. And despite the large amount of paranormal in The Nightmare Affair — a magical school populated by all magical beings ranging from fairies to witches to demons — writing about the contemporary teenage experience is easy. All that magical stuff is just a way for me to exaggerate the teenage experience and to use it to emphasize some of the absurdity of what goes on in a typical high school.
For many kids high school is all about identity, fitting in, finding that group to which you belong. In my high school experience (and really a lot of my adult life too), my classmates naturally gravitated toward people with shared interests. The band kids hung out with band kids; sports kids were friends with sports kids, and so on. Unfortunately, this need to associate with people of shared interests frequently resulted in deliberate exclusion of other kids. Cliques, in other words, and oftentimes bullying.
The tendency to segregate happens at Arkwell, too, except a lot of the cliques are based on magical identity instead of being on the sports team or in the band. This makes the divisions more pronounced. These kids are, after all, born into a magical group; the identity is thrust upon them instead of chosen.
This presents a problem, however, as my magical characters also possess that normal teenage desire to hang out with — and date — people they share interests with or are simply attracted to regardless of whether or not they are of the same magical kind. The conflict that arises from the kids being forced to chose between interests and magical divisions is a way for me to explore how silly and very often destructive, the high school tendency to segregate to the point of exclusion and bullying really is. The magical in my story is just a tool to highlight the normal.
Powell’s Books Exclusive Giveaway:
Mindee Arnett will be among seven fantastic young adult authors appearing together in an exciting event at Powell’s Books in Beaverton, Oregon on April 17. Hypable will be giving away three signed booklets exclusive to the event, featuring new content from Mindee, as well as authors Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Lisa Desrochers (Personal Demons), Sarah Fine (Sanctum), Kristin Halbrook (Nobody But Us), Kody Keplinger (The DUFF), and Ingrid Paulson (Valkyrie Rising).
Enter right here for a chance to win one of the three signed booklets, and stay tuned for further guest posts from these exciting authors! This giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. EST on April 17, and is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada.