Sweet and Sassy Sixteeners: Day Twenty-Two- Marieke Nijkamp!

Posted November 22, 2015 by Nori in Guest Posts, My Features / 3 Comments

It’s time to meet the 21st featured author of the SSS! Introducing…Marieke Nijkamp!

This Is Where It Ends
Marieke Nijkamp
Release Date: 01/05/2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Princess Sofia Regular

Research Topics While Writing
By Marieke Nijkamp

You don’t quite realize how important writer friends are until you find yourself on a couch, crying your eyes out during a writing session and you have a friend close by who is… well, probably somewhat concerned (sorry about that!) but also sweet enough to bring you tea and cookies.

Because a) tea and cookies.

And b) because writing friends understand you when you tell them “I’m okay, I’m just researching a book.”

That day, research led me to endless recordings of 911 calls from school shootings. From Columbine. From Sandy Hook. From too many schools whose names are etched in our memory.

Some days, the hardest part about writing This Is Where It Ends was exactly that research. I did a lot of it. For every hour I spent writing, I spent (at least) another researching. I didn’t just listen to emergency phone calls. I read firsthand accounts of shootings, I plowed through hundreds of pages of investigative reports, I talked to people, I kept up with news and social media feeds as active shooter situations emerged, I familiarized myself with the psychology of being held at gunpoint.

As much as possible, I immersed myself in what we know about school shootings (which is both a lot and not a lot at all).

And I often cried my eyes out. Because writing a book is one thing. Knowing that the situations I put my main characters through happen—far too often—in real life, is quite another. It’s terrifying. It’s harrowing. It’s heartbreaking.

It’s fiction, yes. But it’s fiction that, even despite its poetic license, is all too real and ought to remain respectful to real life.

So I researched. I listened to stories. I held and shot with different types of guns, to get a feel for the mechanics, all the while trying to keep it a rational exercise. I watched different types of shooter drills. I read more investigative reports, perhaps even thousands of pages. I drew on my own fears.

I still teared up several times.

And in the end, I tried to translate all of that to the story. Most of the actual research never made it in there, because while it was relevant for me to know, it wasn’t relevant to the characters. But what I did hope to translate were the respect and understanding that research gave me.

With a little help of writing friends.

About the Author:

Marieke Nijkamp was born and raised in the Netherlands. A lifelong student of stories, language, and ideas, she is more or less proficient in about a dozen languages and holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. Her debut young adult novel This Is Where It Ends, a contemporary story that follows four teens over the course of the fifty-four minutes of a school shooting, will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in January 2016.

She is the founder of DiversifYA and a senior VP of We Need Diverse Books. Find her on Twitter.




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3 responses to “Sweet and Sassy Sixteeners: Day Twenty-Two- Marieke Nijkamp!

  1. Lynnette

    I think a lot of the time we forget that authors have to research a lot in writing books. This is such a hard topic to delve into, so I appreciate all that she has done to create a realistic account.

  2. Sarah Cone

    Kudos to Marieke for not only writing a story on this very touchy and sadly realistic topic but for having the resilience to do the research. I couldn’t have done it. With all due respect (seriously, authors are my celebrities) and with no offense meant whatsoever, though I’m curious about the story, how it unfolds and the outcome, I just cannot read this at this time. This scenario is every parents worst nightmare &I have 4 kids in school that practice lockdown drills on a regular basis. My 3 kids in Middle School were in a soft lockdown for a week because a dad of several students had shot the mom and hadn’t been caught.I hate being terrified just sending my kids to school but that’s reality.I use books to de-stress and usually have no problem with intense reading but this just hits too close to home and would probably cause me to have an anxiety attack. It does sound good and I*will read it eventually, just not while my kids are in school. My apologies for being such a downer.

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