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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why Do I Write For Teens?

During the late Middle Ages when I was a teenager, YA books were pretty much nonexistent. After I’d worked my way through the Nancy Drew series, I had nowhere else to go. I remember sitting on the floor of my hometown’s dark, musty library squinting at titles on the spines of equally dark, musty books. Luckily for me, my grandmother, an avid reader, introduced me to wonderful mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Otherwise I would have been forced to reread The Bobsey Twins, which is not where a teen reader wants to go.

Years later when I was a middle school reading teacher, I came across Scholastic Book Club's superb bonus point program. Soon I was reading more YA books than my students were and making an amazing discovery—in many cases the quality of writing was superior to the adult novels I had read.

When--several years and a few hundred tween and YA books later--I wrote my first novel, there was no doubt that it would be for a YA audience. I knew my readers, I knew the books, and I liked what I saw.

Hanging out in the world of talented writers like Chris Crutcher, Lois Lowry, Gary Paulson, and our awesome MTV authors is scary. But what fun is it to play the game if you don’t compete against the best?

Okay, if Danielle and Jenn can do it, so can I. In this picture, I'm sitting on the counter of my mom's office in the Dallas County Courthouse. BTW, it wasn't easy finding the right shade of orange tights to match my velvet paisley top. Impressive, no?


Jenny said...

That is some serious color coordination going on, and you know what? I bet everyone thought you looked pretty damn good!!!

I often wonder if one day today's teenaged girls will look at photos of themselves and say, "I walked around with my pants so low my ass crack showed when I sat down? My bra straps showed from under my tank tops? My pant legs were so long they got all dirty nasty and shredded? What was I thinking????"

Jenny said...

I LOVED reading Paula Danzinger - my fav: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.