Guest Post with Nansi Kunze (Author of Dangerously Placed)

Today’s guest post is part of Random House Australia's official tour as DANGEROUSLY PLACED by Nansi Kunze debuts in the United States. A complete schedule of the tour can be found here. Today, A Backwards Story is simultaneously posting a review and guest post for the tour. There is also a fun GIVEAWAY on Nov 13th!!

To find out more about Nansi Kunze, please visit her website and blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Check out the rest of the tour to learn more:

Nov 7 (Monday) – Jex at Everything and Nothing: interview about Nansi’s thoughts on virtual reality

Nov 8 (Tuesday) – Lyndsey at Strangemore: guest post on why Nansi loves sci fi

Nov 9 (Wednesday) – Kellie at Reawrite: interview with Nansi about her writing process

Nov 10 (Thursday) – Bonnie at A Backwards Story: guest post on what inspired Nansi to write DANGEROUSLY PLACED

Nov 11 (Friday) – Pica at Pica Reads: interview about the cover art and other aspects of publishing

Nov 12 (Saturday) – Lacey at Owl Love You Books: interview with fictional character in the book

Nov 13 (Sunday) —Sarah Guthall at Inklings Read: Guest post about why Nansi became an author and advice for teens who want to do the same

ALSO!!! Sarah at Inklings Read is ALSO be doing a special GIVEAWAY!!!! Enter now through Nov. 13th!!

Today's guest post features author Nansi Kunze and sheds light on how DANGEROUSLY PLACED came into existence! Nansi has previously published MISHAPS, another YA novel.

My Inspiration for DANGEROUSLY PLACED by Nansi Kunze

DANGEROUSLY PLACED actually started life as a short story I wrote a couple of years before my first novel, MISHAPS, was accepted for publication. Back then I was frantically trying to get short stories published, so that my writing CV would look more impressive when I submitted my first novel manuscript to publishing houses. I’d sent a bunch of them off to magazines in Australia and the US, and one editor replied with a particularly kind rejection letter. He liked my style, he said, and hoped I would submit another story.

Encouraged, I checked out the magazine’s website and saw that their next issue was going to feature locked room murder mysteries. Like Alex, DANGEROUSLY PLACED’s protagonist, I love gaming (though unlike Alex, I’m not all that skilled at it). I’d been playing a lot of Animal Crossing at the time, which is one of those games that can make you start to feel you’re actually living in its world. It struck me that a virtual environment like that was a way in which someone could be in a locked room situation – theoretically sealed off from the outside world, yet in contact with people at the same time. I used the idea as the basis of a mystery story about a surfie boy on virtual work experience and called it ‘To Detect and Surf’ (yeah – this was before I realised that bad puns don’t usually make good titles). Work experience is usually a week long, and involves doing real tasks (as well as observing other employees) at a workplace in order to find out what a career you’re interested in is really like. Australian high school students generally do two work experience placements as part of their year ten or eleven curriculum, and I decided this was ideal for my story: the work experience kid was a character to whom the virtual office would be new and exciting, and who would also obviously be innocent of the crime. I sent the story off to the magazine, only to have it kindly rejected too. To be honest, the editor probably wondered why I kept sending him stories about teenagers when his magazine was clearly aimed at adults!

Several years later, when I’d managed to become a published author despite my unfortunate penchant for awful puns, I decided to use those same concepts for a new novel. I started from scratch with a female protagonist and used some of my memories of doing work experience as a teenager to help me (mostly things like being stuck in the photocopy room, realising I was dressed like a complete dork and barely daring to open my mouth in front of the boss; the most exciting day I had on work experience was the one when my mentor didn’t show up and I decided to teach her class – year 7 English – myself). I also used other people’s far more exciting placements. Nix’s work experience with a special effects company in DANGEROUSLY PLACED was inspired by a guy from my year 10 class who went to a TV studio in the city, where he helped make a fast-food commercial that involved creating fake grocery items out of latex and then blowing them up with explosives. Most of all, I gave the book all the things my own work experience stints lacked: glamorous locations, exciting tasks to do, hot guys and cutting-edge technology.

I learned quite a few things from all this – that playing video games is not a waste of time; that it pays to research a magazine’s readership before you submit a story to them; and that it’s not a wise move to demonstrate that you have more control over an English class than your work experience mentor does (trust me on this one). But possibly the most important lesson was this: as a writer, anything and everything can be your inspiration.