By Melissa Warner Published March 17, 2022
When asked why she writes YA, author Whitney Grandison said that it is the “most hopeful, [it’s the] beginning of your life, you have all these ideas, [and there are] so many options available for you.” She also writes YA because “I love reading it, so it felt natural.” Similarly, when asked why romance, she said “I love reading it, I don’t know why. I don’t really care for movies that are romantic. But books – I just need that love story.” Not all of her books have romance as the center; some are coming of age. Quite unexpectedly, she loves horror movies.
Having more than 30 completed books – many unpublished (“I just like writing”), she feels being published is “good because I have new readers who found me and like my stories.” Yet, she feels publishing is “hard on you.” It took her about one year to get an agent, who then spent two years querying a book that never sold. Ms. Grandison has had a lot of success on Wattpad, with 30,000 followers, which she explained is “the largest story platform – like youtube but for writers.” This global online community for readers, writers, fan fiction, etc., is “very diverse” and includes complete books.
Ms. Grandison’s first book A Love Hate Thing, originally titled Summer Nights by the author, started out as two different book ideas, while the idea for The Right Side of Reckless “just hit me.” After she gets an idea for a book, she makes a “face claim” (Avan Jogia was Guillermo in Reckless), and then she works on a playlist for herself. She comes from a family of writers, with her mother an occasional novel writer, and her grandmother a poetry writer. As for rejection in the publishing business, “I’m used to it by now I guess,” citing the unsuccessful two years querying one book. However, she commented “it sucks a lot though.” She is trying to write romance books for a slightly older audience, meaning characters who are in college and/or their early 20s – “new adults”, but is “finding it harder. ” Yet, she is “more optimistic now [I] just keep going and trying different projects.”
If she was not a writer, Ms. Grandison believes she would be a librarian or a DJ. However, even since the age of 8, she has wanted to be a writer. “For fun” in high school, being an introvert, she was a library assistant. She also worked on the year book for a year or two. Also being an introvert, Covid did not affect her writing. Also since both books came out after Covid began, she does not feel she has missed out on book events – she “hasn’t experienced that” yet.
As a woman of color, she feels she has a “unique voice” and that more variety is needed for teen readers. When asked what she has learned about herself as a writer, she said “I definitely stand by what I write, whether someone likes it or not – [being] resilient in my words.” When asked if she had had any critiques about some of her characters being “too black” or “too white”, she commented she had received some feedback that Troy and Trice (from A Love Hate Thing) were “too much a stereotype which I thought wasn’t fair.” However, Ms. Grandison’s agent was very supportive of her stance. She has no trouble writing characters of the opposite gender, and while her books have so called bad boys and good girls” she “has ideas” on stories with so called good boys and bad girls.
In both of her books, the girls’ parents have their lives planned out for them, and the parents are exceptionally accepting. Ms. Grandison stated that the form is “not autobiographical. I always wanted to be a writer and my mom supported that for me.” As for the parent characters, Ms. Grandison stated that “today’s parents are more open, I was inspired by the OC…Sometimes you need parents [in fiction] who are nice and not evil or overbearing; a supporting parent is more positive in a book.” After high school, her own mother allowed her a “gap year” to focus on writing, and this is when she started working on Wattpad.
If she had one more hour per day, Ms. Grandison would spend it reading. She wishes she had known as a teenager to be “more patient…learn to wait.” Her website has a tag line of “dare to be YOU.” She explained to “be yourself no matter what.”