“Why Don’t You Write for Grownups?” I get asked this question frequently, and I feel sort-of-out-of-sorts about it. In the first place, just because I write young adult fiction, doesn’t mean I’m not writing for adults. Think about some of the best books you’ve ever read, those you think about and cherish with all your heart. I bet there were young adult tittles in that list! Here are some of my favorites and I didn’t read them until I was out of my teens:
-Anne of Green Gables (I also own the movies and make all the girls I adopt into our family watch them with me so beware)!
-The Chronicles of Narnia (I can’t say the same thing about those movies).
-Madeleine L’Engle’s time quintet starting with, A Wrinkle in Time, classic!
-The whole Harry Potter Series (Which I’ve not only read, and listened to in the car, and watched all of the movies more than once, and I hate to admit it, but I sometimes miss Harry and his friends).
-The Hunger Games (How do people come up with stuff like that)?
-The Divergent Series (Hurry up Veronica Roth and get that third book finished).
Anyway, you get the point. Think Huckleberry Fin, Treasure Island, Little Women and Hatchet. These books make up our collective consciousness. They ignite our imaginations and make us want to get lost in the forest with a hatchet! Who else could do that but people who write for children where you don’t have to get bogged down with sex scenes and laundry? I don’t have a huge list of favorite books that were written for adults, although I’ve read thousands. Mostly they come into my brain, bang around for a while and leave. But I could tell you all about The Box Car Children, or Black Beauty, which I read over 45 years ago.
Being on websites where young adult fiction writers’ talk to each other is a kick. One was bemoaning the fact that books written for boys, usually involve a beloved dog’s death. This is so true! Think about it: Sounder, Where the red fern grows, Old Yeller. What is it with doggy death? More recent books have not improved the doggy death ratio.
Another writer had the same complaint about parent death. This is also true! But how can kids have adventures with parent supervision? You might pull it off with a fantasy book where the kids come back after a grand adventure to find that no time has passed, but in a reality novel, parents just get in the way. How would Pippie Longstocking, Annie, Oliver, or my beloved Anne and those Boxcar kids have had any adventures with pesky parents around? And sadly, I’ve added to the parent death drama with my latest novel for middle grade kids, Bending Willow. Yep. But you just try getting kids to have an adventure in this overprotective culture we live in. If you saw two kids walking down the road alone, you’d call social services. Try it! It’s not easy.
Hmm, I seem to have gotten off topic. The point is I LOVE young adult fiction and maybe one day I’ll think of something to write for adults, but I’m not in a hurry. Because some day, I hope to write a character as beloved as my Anne, because she has so much “scope for the imagination!”