Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Guest Blogger: Adrienne Kress On Why She Writes for Children

Adrienne Kress is the author of ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN, and her new book TIMOTHY AND THE DRAGON'S GATE is out this week!

As a writer of middle grade novels, I probably get this question most often: “Why do you write for children?” Actually that’s probably the second most common question I get. The first most common question is, “So are you the next JK Rowling?” which I could never find an appropriate answer to until I just started replying, “Yes.” At any rate. This second most common question of why I write for children has always been a very interesting one to me, and one which I would like to discuss now.

First I would like to discuss the nature of the question. Often it comes out of a genuine curiosity – why do I like that particular genre, kind of like “Why do you write mysteries, western, literary” etc. But it can also come from a place of total confusion where truly the question is, “Why do you write for children instead of adults?”

It is a question that supposes that in an ideal world, an author’s first choice would obviously be to write for adults, because those are the “real” books. I mean, let’s face it, there is a stigma attached with writing books that aren’t for adults. There is also a stigma attached to writing genre fiction (SF/Fantasy) or romance books. In general, it is widely known that there are certain genres out there that don’t, for whatever reason, earn the same respect as commercial or literary fiction. This can be best demonstrated, I think, in a recent round table for The New Yorker, where in their attempt to discuss and praise a YA novel, the members of the round table manage to insult an entire genre with sweeping generalizations and total misinformation, calling the genre “facile” and “boring”.

Why it is that otherwise seemingly intelligent people are so determined to put down entire genres altogether boggles my mind. I truly don’t know why anyone of reasonable intelligence would make such generalizations. The whole point in having a thoughtful mind is understanding that there are good and bad elements to most everything, that making generalizations is the complete opposite of thoughtful logical analysis.

At any rate, because of these prejudices, I often do get the question.

And this is my answer:

I don’t write for children.

Yes, I am incredibly fortunate that one of the side effects of my writing is that I get to meet with some of the most amazing kids out there. That I get to be a source of inspiration to children around the world (which is still a little overwhelming for me). No author could ask for more. But in all honesty, I write in a genre that I happen to really love.

So what I’m doing, actually, is not so much writing for children as writing what I enjoy.

The question then becomes: What do I enjoy about children’s books?

Well.

I have never once had to explain to a child why it is possible for my story to have tall ships and laptops in the same universe. Why there is an Extremely Ginormous Octopus having conversations with people in a world where the rest of the animals behave as typical animals and no one blinks an eye. But I have had adults balk at those elements. And I have explained these odd juxtapositions simply as typical elements of “Magical Realism” (because that is truly my genre). Children are so much more willing just to sit back and enjoy the story, instinctively understanding that not everything has to have an explanation and that, in fact, sometimes a lack of explanation makes the story that much more fun.

I love the whimsy in children’s books. I love the saturated emotions, the dealing with real issues without overcomplicating them and over thinking them. I love how dark children’s books can be, how the stakes can often be life and death. And yet despite these elements I love how unsentimental children’s books are (contrary to popular belief of some writers who think children’s books must be morality tales, all sugary sweet; kids for the most part don’t put up with that nonsense). Children’s books don’t have time to revel in their self-importance. Kids are a tough audience and they’ll turn their backs if the story is less than stellar.

I love the humour in many children’s books I’ve read, the originality, the freedom. And I love the writing. Yes, you read right. I love a well-written children’s book. Because the actual writing in a children’s book can – surprise! – actually be good. The fact that a phrase comes across as simple, or straightforward, does not mean it doesn’t take a great deal of effort and talent to turn that phrase. Some children’s book authors can capture an exact moment, an exact feeling, in such a lovely straightforward way – but in an entirely original way as well.

Children’s books are also some of the last instances of the survival of an oral tradition. We rarely read books aloud anymore, nor sit around the fire and have someone tell a good old yarn. We read to ourselves, isolated in our own little world. But children’s books get read aloud. Parents read them to their kids, teachers to their students. For this reason many children’s book authors have great fun playing with language, with interesting words that are fun to say. There is a real love of language in children’s books.

In general there is a certain level of passion and excitement in the world of children’s books. It is a world that is, above all, interested in entertaining. I am not saying that kidlit authors aren’t interested in educating as well, but if the book isn’t entertaining you are going to lose your audience really fast and so lose out on any educating opportunities. The focus is so clearly on the audience and not on the author.

Finally there is also one rather grown-up pleasure for me as a kidlit writer: in the children’s book community, the authors, publishers etc, are just so wonderfully supportive of each other, so excited about what they do. It’s a community of warmth and generosity where, for once, the word “community” doesn’t have to stretch itself out of shape to be an apt description.

All of this is why I love children’s books.

Except that the books I read aren’t “children’s books”; they are “Adrienne likes this stuff books”. They are books meant for whoever enjoys them. I so often also get emails from adults who tell me they enjoy my work “even though they are meant for children”. Well, no. You enjoyed it, it diverted you, it was therefore meant for you.

The same can be said of any genre that one unexpectedly enjoys. We have to categorise things for practicality’s sake, but truly, every book is unique, every book has its own pros and cons. And that’s a wonderful thing. It might make life easier to put everything in its place, less messy, but, to me at least, doing so makes things a lot less interesting.

And a lot less fun.






72 comments:

Allison said...

I also write for children and sometimes get that look that says, "Well that's not so hard. Anyone can write a children's book. Why don't you write something real?"

You expressed my sentiments exactly when you said you liked the genre. I also enjoy reading and writing children's books.

Thank you for your comments.

other lisa said...

Very enjoyable post and if you need more incentive to check out Adrienne's books, go read the glowing reviews posted on Amazon - wow!

Marilyn Peake said...

Hi, Adrienne,

Your books sound wonderful, and I enjoyed your post.

I know exactly what you mean about reading your books to an audience of children. I write both children’s and adult literature. I found reading my children’s novels in schools an absolutely awesome experience. The first time I was asked to do that, I was very nervous, but soon discovered that children become quickly engaged in hearing stories. They love hearing about both real-world animals and dragons, and absolutely love to discover them side-by-side in the same book. They also ask wonderful questions!

R. Daley said...

Thanks Nathan, for affording Adrienne the opportunity to share her thoughts with us, that was a great read!

Genre bashing is too easy. For every genre there is the good, the bad, and the ugly (do you hear that odd whistling?)

We find these preconceived prejudices all over, not just in writing. It's pervasive in race, religion, and music.

Generally speaking, I don't like rap...but there are some artists and songs that blow me away. Same goes for country music. Have I ever totally dismissed a musical genre, in spite of this?

To quote Sarah Palin*, "You betcha!"

Why? Don't know. Sometimes it's just the path of least resistance.

*NOTE: This is the first, and presumably only, time that I have quoted Sarah Palin. Although I have quoted Michael Palin countless times.

Dara said...

It seems to me that children's book authors tend to not get the praise they deserve. I've tried my hand at writing a short story for children as part of a weekly writing challenge on another site, and it's incredibly difficult.

The most important thing is that you are writing what you love :)

Kristan said...

Granted, this is kind of along post, but MAN she makes me want to change my story, lol!

"Children are so much more willing just to sit back and enjoy the story, instinctively understanding that not everything has to have an explanation and that, in fact, sometimes a lack of explanation makes the story that much more fun."

True that.

Overall what a wonderful perspective, thank you for sharing!

Kristan said...

*a long

Scott said...

Thanks, Adrienne. Very nice post.

I must admit that I regard the huge influx of middle grade authors with a lot of cynicism. Most, I figured, were in it to cash in on the Harry Potter books, and others, I thought, were coming off as hobbyists. But I share your view that any book can be well written and enjoyable for all ages.

I also hear you loud and clear about the industry being dismissive of genre fiction. I write horror and dark--by way of literary--fiction, and almost don't want to admit it. Heck, it's barely included in agents' lists, as I guess most think "splatterpunk" when they think "horror", or maybe "Stephen King wannabe". I think "Ira Levin", "Mary Shelley", and even "Wilkie Collins" and "Donna Tartt".

Thanks again, and here's to your continued success.

Devon Ellington said...

I completely agree, Adrienne. I'm not one who enjoys things neatly boxed up and labelled. I like surprises, and that's one reason enjoy a lot of the fiction found under the "children's" and "YA" tags -- as you said, they still contain whimsy. And we certainly need more of that in the world!

I wish you continued success and happiness.

MzMannerz said...

What an excellent post - thank you for writing it.

I particularly enjoyed this bit:

"Children are so much more willing just to sit back and enjoy the story, instinctively understanding that not everything has to have an explanation and that, in fact, sometimes a lack of explanation makes the story that much more fun."

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

I love reading children's books but I can't write one. I don't like to limit myself to writing PC, friendly books for kids... I don't like being limited, if that makes any sense.

Dan said...

Now I must check out Adrienne's books, because if her blog post is this eloquent, the books must be pretty good as well.

colleen4 said...

Brilliant post.

Absolutely brilliant.

Sarah said...

Adrienne, I so enjoyed this post! Thank you.

I once told someone who wrote screenplays that I was revising, for the umpteenth time, a picture book manuscript. He nodded and asked how hard it could be to pound out less than 1,000 words? (How hard could it be to establish story, characters, and setting in a few pages?)

I didn't hit him. It is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

As far as children's books being sweet? Far from it. We have an audience that still believed in monsters a few years ago.

:)Ash said...

Great post, Adrienne! People don't harass me so much about writing MG or YA, but I get bugged a lot about READING children's books.

"Geez, Ash, you have a law degree! Why are you reading that?!"

"Yeah, well, you know I failed the bar exam..."

Seriously, though, I love children's books. That's why I write for children.

(Of course, I do hope to pass the bar the next time around... gotta have a day job!).

Anonymous said...

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl --

Maybe you're reading the wrong books? There's plenty of edgy stuff out there.

*"Cracked up to Be," by Courtney Summers.

* "I Know it's Over," by C.K. Kelly Martin.

* Looking for Alaska", by John Green.

All yummy, and not limited in use of language, feelings, or content.

Stephanie said...

Very well put!

For a while, in the 90s, I tried my hand at category romance novels. I was drawn to the genre because there was a brief trend of romantic comedies being the "in" thing. What they were publishing at that time was FUN to me...now it's all vampires and cowboys. But, I'll say this... The reaction to me writing young adult novels now is FARRRRRRRR better than the reaction I got when I was writing romance. People pretty much assume if you write romance you're writing porn. I have no idea why. Most of my books didn't even have sex scenes. But people who don't read them make that broad generalization.

I'm PROUD to say I'm trying to get a young adult novel published and if ever I am published, and someone dares to say to me, "Why don't you write a real book?" I'm sure I'll have a really snippy answer to give them. Something about how touching the lives of our youth is probably the most important thing I could do with my writing talent. I'm hoping someday to get to the point where I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

No matter what you write, someone's going to have something nasty to say about it. That's just life in a world full of people who are jealous that you're published and they're not.

Robin L said...

This is such a terrific explanation of why to write for children, Adrienne!

And I've heard great things about Alex and the Ironic Gentlemen. Here's wishing you equal success for the sequel!

Alessa Ellefson said...

Thank you for letting us know why you love writing for children. I know some of my favorite stories belong to that particular category and I will always cherish them!

Michael Reynolds said...

I've mostly written kid books (partnered with my wife, KA Applegate and on my own as Michael Grant,) but I've also been a restaurant reviewer, had a political media company for a while, written political and non-political blogs, free-lanced feature pieces, worked on documentary scripts and various other things.

It's ridiculous to value or devalue a book by genre. Jane Eyre is a romance novel, its better than some literary novels I could mention (but won't.) Dennis Lehane is a genre writer and he's better than those same literary writers. Walter Mosely and Dan Simmons and Kate DiCamillo are all genre writers who could be stacked up against any number of literary authors.

It's not te genre, it's how you pull it off.

C.D. Reimer said...

I live in Silicon Valley. When people find out I'm a writer, they usually want to know if I'm writing screenplays and are puzzled when I tell them no. Too often they think writing a screenplay is an easy path to making $50,000+ per year for little work.

I'll be more content to write my fiction, published what I can get published, and let Hollywood find someone else to write the screenplay.

R.J. Anderson said...

A terrific article which echoes my own sentiments perfectly. I'm embarrassed to admit that I spent a lot of years denying that my novel could possibly be a "children's book" since I'd written it for myself and other readers like me, not for some hypothetical group of kids. Sure, I had fond memories of the books I'd read as a child, but surely if I wanted to be taken SERIOUSLY as an author I had to insist on my work being marketed for adults?

Fortunately a smart editor knocked that snobbery out of me and now I'm back to reading -- and writing -- the kind of books I love best: that they also seem to be the kind of books that kids and teens love is just a bonus, as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

BUT, lots of kidlit writers do this same sort of diservice to themselves, too.

A well-known male YA author claims he writes for "smart teenagers," sort of implying that 1) the teens that don't like his books must not be smart, and 2) at least he's not writing chick-lit, pink, teen books.

It makes me wonder if he's somehow embarassed by the YA he writes?

All writers need to stop dissing what other writers write. It's all difficult, it's all a lot of work, and every category has its rewards and drawbacks.

Anita said...

One of the many reasons I love having children of my own is the BOOKS.

YA rocks these days (Spinelli and Green are two of my writing heros).

And, heck, even picture books are getting better...fresher, funnier, etc.

Janet said...

You go, Adrienne. I like good children's books and good children's movies, just on their own merits. And I'm now in the middle of reading a story about a certain Alex. I didn't have any available young relatives to buy it for, but I just said "What the heck" and bought it for me. I'll read it to my grandchildren when they get around to being born. In the meanwhile, it's mine, all mine.

liquidambar said...

"... contrary to popular belief of some writers who think children’s books must be morality tales, all sugary sweet; kids for the most part don’t put up with that nonsense ..."

Exactly.

M Clement Hall said...

When we were children, didn't we read "children's" books?
And how many of these same children's books have we read to our own children?
Aren't these same books more likely to be the ones that last generation after generation?
It takes a particular talent, a particular empathy with children, to write them, and it's beyond me to think anybody would consider the successful author of this genre as any less worthwhile than any other.

What has changed over the generations is the technical ability to illustrate -- some of them are quite beautiful as well as intriguing.

An interesting blog -- thank you Adrienne.

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

I thoroughly enjoy writing for children or the young adult market because a writer gets an opportunity to offer a message without preaching.

Also, I find it challenging, not writing for children, but knowing you need first to please the parent, teacher, librarian, grandparent who is going to buy the book for the child. When you get past these obstacles, then wow, you've done your job.

GeekyQuill said...

Great post. I love kids lit. and YA lit. I agree with Anita- one of the perks of having kids are the books you get an excuse to read.

Marjorie said...

It is interesting to me that you write children's books. There is a huge market for this now. I was an elementary school teacher in NYC for 34 years and I am now retired. The classrooms no longer use a basal reader for reading instruction. The classrooms have leveled libaries with books grouped by genre. Students select "just right" books and discuss the books in literature circles. I do not think this "whole language" approach is the best because it lacks a phonics component, but it is the direction in which education is moving.

Rachel said...

What a lovely post. It gave me warm fuzzies. Thanks, Adrienne!

Deborah Blake said...

Adrienne,

Great post. I love reading YA books (and some books that are shelved with the "kid's" books)because many times they have better plots and the characters are more fun.

You go, girl!

Sally said...

Wonderful thoughts! I've not read your novels, but I will pick one up posthaste.

I also love the language in children's books--from PB's to YA's. Lovely, lovely language.

sally apokedak said...

Oh wow, I'm hyped. I just clicked on your website and recognized your book covers. I just bought the Alex book a couple of days ago. Loved the cover and the first couple of pages. My son swiped it and is reading it so I'm waiting for my turn. I'm looking forward to it!

Freya Croft said...

brilliant post! Sums it up perfectly, Adrienne.

Deniz Bevan said...

Yay! That's it exactly! I just had to link to this from my blog :-)

rls said...

I was at a fancy party a while back when the conversation turned to everyone’s recently read favorites. I am the mother of four, and had just completed Barbara Park's canon- a.k.a. the Junie B Jones series. Junie is a spunky heroine and Park’s plots are exciting and touching. Not to mention, the dialogue and internal narrative is a pleasure to read aloud. When I spoke my truth to the NYC intellectuals, they joked that I needed to get out more. Next time, I'll just quote you.

Annalee said...

On an answer to the "are you the next JK Rowling?" question:

"No way. Rowling is the previous me." Then lean in and add, perhaps with a hint of conspiracy, "I'm kind of a big deal."

StanManX said...

I'm glad someone mentioned Jerry Spinelli. He had four novels go unpublished, and his fifth was headed that way as well until his agent said, "Why don't you try marketing that as YA?"

Space Station Seventh Grade is fantastic! The age of the protagonist is what makes it YA. The characters, like actual seventh graders, are crass, insensitive, prone to making good and bad decisions... In short, it's a story about real characters, just like "adult" fiction. Those characters just happen to be under 20.

Okie said...

Awesome post with great insight.

I was writing some works a year or two ago and as I neared the end, I realized they would be most appropriate for older kids or younger teens. At first I was dismayed, having hoped to write a great work of "adult fiction."

But as I stepped back, I realized that I felt freed by the fact that the words had just come and I hadn't really set out trying to write a particular form (even though my mind was always focused on my age group).

Since then I've also found that it can be so much more fun to write youthful stories.

A Paperback Writer said...

One of the few perks of being a junior high school English teacher is that I can read all the YA I want and no one questions me or puts me down for it. They likely assume I'm doing it for my job, which is partially true. However, to the snooty folks who think that the "only true" books are the likes of James Joyce or Doris Lessing, I don't bother to tell them that YA is my favorite genre.
Lynn Reid Banks (author of the Indian in the Cupboard and numerous other children's books) told the 20 or so of us attending a writing workshop where she was a guest speaker (Edinburgh, 2003) that she was disgusted by adults who read children's literature. She claimed she wanted to snatch every copy of a Harry Potter books she saw in an adult's hands and replace it with Anna Karenina. She was actually miffed at me when I told her I'd enjoyed reading her own Alice By Accident middle grade novel -- until I told her I was a school teacher. Then it suddenly became acceptable in her eyes for me to read kids' books.

Rupe-Boyd said...

After reading Adrienne Kress's post I can understand why she is a successful author. She expresses exactly how I feel as an author writing for middle school. There is one point that puzzles me. She mentions the wonderfully supportive community for our genre. Where is that community? Everyone who reads my work is writing for adults. I would love to communicate with other middle school writers.

D.A. Riser said...

Wonderful post, Adrienne. We would all do well to leave room for the imagination and the fanciful in our novels.

Sarah said...

rls,

Hurray for Junie B! You're right, the series is great fun to read aloud. I didn't pick one up till a few years ago, and I was amazed how well Park depicted a kindergartner. I wish folks realized how difficult that is. Most people trying to write a series like that would end up with a Shirley Temple on crack sort of character.

The Junie B. series is well-told because it's written for little girls, not at them, as Editorial Annoymous would say.

(http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-use-your-imagination.html)

Jo said...

Great blog. Thanks Adrienne and I'm not just saying that because I write children's books too. Roald Dahl once said the genre was the hardest to write and that many 'adult' fiction writers who tried their hands at it failed miserably. Don't we as a society severely under-estimate kids anyway?

Erica said...

This is most wonderful. Thanks.

Jenn Johansson said...

Adrienne,
Thank you for such a poignant explanation of your passion for your audience. I whole-heartedly agree with your feelings about those who are not open minded enough to appreciate the good and bad in all things.

L.C. Gant said...

Adrienne,
Thanks for a wonderful post. You described exactly the reason why I love writing YA fiction. I have often felt embarrassed that I enjoy children's lit more than adult lit, but your words made me realize it wasn't just me after all.

I actually think writing for children is more difficult than writing for adults. Children demand a good story above all else, whereas adults are content to read high-brow "literary" works where nothing happens. Can you imagine War and Peace being written for kids? Yikes!

I like the occasional Great American Novel as much as the next girl, but give me "Where the Wild Things Are" or "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" any day of the week!

Brigita said...

Such a great post, thanks for this.

I agree, children's or YA books don't get nearly enough respect. When I tell people I'm working on a YA novel they give me the look - as in: Everyone could write for kids, that's just so easy, you just come up with an incredible story and add some educational touches and you have the next Harry Potter. When in reality, in some respect, children are the most demanding readers because they know precisely what they want and if they're not satisfied they won't be afraid of saying that.

Richard Lewis said...

Great post, Adrienne!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I have the greatest respect for children's authors. It's not easy to write a compelling and interesting story in such a short format. I've read too many trite, PC, and pedantic children's books to my two young children lately not to appreciate a gem when I find one (and the author who wrote it!)

Joy said...

well said!

CaroGirl said...

Adrienne, this is a timely post for me. Only yesterday I received a very generous personal rejection on a 50 page sample that praised my story telling, gave some great insight to improving the work, and suggested I try to sell it as a YA novel. Like you, I didn't write it "for children," not even my most recent novel that I plan to try to sell as a middle grade. I just wrote the story I wanted to tell about characters I loved.

Great post and I wish you much good luck with Timothy. My copy is on order!

Sminthia said...

"Children’s books don’t have time to revel in their self-importance."

Well said. This is why the only fiction I read (or write) is MG and YA. It gets to the point.

Tish Cohen said...

In case you haven't read Adrienne's first novel, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, do yourself a favor and buy both. Adrienne's writing has been compared to Lemony Snicket. These are brilliant books that adults will love as much as their kids.

Great post, Adrienne!

Tish Cohen said...

Oops. I said "These are brilliant books that adults will love as much as their kids."

Umm, okay, so they might not love the books as much as they love their kids. Because that would be wrong. But they'll love them as much as their kids do!

Chris said...

Writing for children is one of THE most important careers in the world. Why? Because these writers train and shape the adult readers of tomorrow. If writers for children don't create works kids can love and spend time with, heaven help the rest of us clods who write for adults who haven't developed a love for reading.

BTW, I don't think there's any better stuff out there than some of the "writing for children." Rick Riordan's books are inspired by God(s)...And I look forward to looking into Adrienne's corpus of work.

Julian Meteor said...

Children reading the WRONG books can be HARROWING.
I am PETRIFIED of owls because of my childhood.

Adrienne said...

Wow. I am slightly overwhelmed by all the responses, and genuinely thrilled that my post rang true to so many of you. One of my reasons for writing it was that I knew I wasn't exactly the only one out there who felt that way, and I have most obviously been proven right here in this comment section. Thank you all so much (for your support and also for those of you saying such lovely things about my books, that is most flattering)!

Rupe-Boyd - there are some really great communities for children's book authors out there. I would recommend SCBWI (they have an excellent website, but also host some fabulous conventions). If you are Canadian CANSCAIP is such a wonderful organisation. And online we have the amazing forum devoted entirely to children's writing: www.verlakay.com (nicknamed the Blue Boards). Hope that is enough to start you off!

Anonymous said...

I hold Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle as one of my favorite books.
For me it's all about the story, which lands a lot of YA and Science Fiction books in my bed with me.
I also like ideas and there is a stack of non-fiction books in there with me too.
I really appreciated that you write about characters you love.

But I do have a question about YA:
What is considered too adult for a YA? Are you advised not to even lightly go certain places? Are certain adult parts of these WIPs edited out regularly?
I mean like when the Prince and Princess get married and have a child, is that process just glossed over? Voila! Look a baby!
Just curious. It seemed that my daughter had a LOT more adult material in some of her YA books. I admit I was a bit shocked to discover how much, but still didn't find it as offensive as Catcher in the Rye.

gk risser said...

Ahmen

marina said...

Bravo Adrienne! Well said! And by the way, I had the pleasure of making your acquaintance at the December CANSCAIP meeting—your passion and enthusiasm are infectious. Alex is at the top of my reading pile.

Nancy D'Inzillo said...

It's interesting to watch what genres get bashed, because much of it echoes which genres the university academics deem "trash" versus "literature." Having been an English undergraduate for five years, I was lucky enough to encounter several academics who are open to studying the depth of formally disrespected genres, such as comic books, but some of my favorite profs still hold tight to more elitist attitudes about "high literature."
The exciting thing is that, over time, for academics and readers alike, as more people read and begin to write critical analysis of these less revered genres (like Adrienne did here with children's books), less people are likely to wonder "why write children's books (or sci fi or westerns)?"
As I like to point out, certainly children's books or fantasy or x genre have their dross, but there's plenty of "literary fiction" that's crap too.
The harder argument is "why write fiction?" when talking to someone who follows nonfiction and views fiction as escapism. Maybe someone can come up with an equally articulate argument against that attitude, because despite the many arguments I could offer, it's hard to change someone's mind on that issue.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:42 asks:

"... It seemed that my daughter had a LOT more adult material in some of her YA books. I admit I was a bit shocked to discover how much, but still didn't find it as offensive as Catcher in the Rye..."

YA is a great category in that it has any type of book you want. From sweet and innocent books that are clean, wholesome reads, to light and airy chick-lit type books, to sex, drugs, F-boms, suicide, teen pregnancy, and all the things that life entails. YA is not all one or the other.

I'm confused as I try and remember what could've been offensive about The Catcher in the Rye... but, no matter, there is much to choose in the YA section. Go. Read. It's the only way to find out.

lotusgirl said...

Adrienne! Thanks for stopping by. I discovered what a rich world books for children is when my oldest was born, especially as she has grown. Now it's about all I want to read. I had so much of Homer and Vergil and Proust and Faulkner, etc., that I was ready for a change of pace.

People are really missing out if they are thinking they are too high brow to read and enjoy "children's" lit.

Anonymous said...

I found Catcher in the Rye really really really depressing and had trouble handling it. I thought it was too adult for me as a teen as my required reading...kind of like being directed to pass through a swamp and not having a proper guide for how to avoid the alligators.

Since my question, I looked up YA on wikipedia and found some helpful explanations as well as several interesting articles about language at this link:

http://www.helium.com/

under articles (no 2)

Anonymous said...

http://www.helium.com/items/197281
-deciding-if-one-should-use-
profanity-in-young-adult-fiction

Devon Ellington said...

In one of those lovely episodes of synchronicity, I come here, read and comment on your post, and, later that night, receive a contract -- I've sold my very first YA horse racing mystery!

It's not my first sale, but my first YA sale.

Continued success to ALL of us!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Devon!!

Yes, this is an inspiring post.

It caused me to dig deeper
AND it reminded me about my own heart
and the place it belongs in my own writing.

Thank you, Adrienne.

LindaBudz said...

Well said, Adrienne! I loved ALEX and am looking forward to meeting TIMOTHY upon my next trip to the bookstore!

(Hmm, My word verification is "ranted" ... why couldn't they have saved that for a time when I wanted to rant?)

Wilson Family said...

I like how you said you don't write for children. That made the most sense to me. I never set out to write a middle grade children's novel, I just had a story to tell. It wasn't till it was almost done that a friend of mine said it sounded like a middle grade novel. I had no idea what that was. After some research I found out she was right. I'm absolutely excited about writing for children. Alot of children's books have so much substance to them. It's a privelidge to write the words that may influence the next generation.

Eden Sharpe said...

Beautifully said! Thanks.

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