Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why I Write Middle Grade

My fellow 2012 debut author Leigh Bardugo wrote this wonderful blog post last week in response to some recent hullabaloo regarding a Slate article. You should read Leigh's post about what compels her to write YA...I'll wait.

That post got me thinking about why I write what I do. I haven't written any YA (Young Adult) books yet and the next couple of manuscripts I have in the works are both Middle Grade. This doesn't mean I'll never write a YA fact, I very much hope I will and that I'll write an Adult novel someday too. But for now, I'm extremely happy writing MG.

Why, you may ask (because that is the title of this blog post and therefore, must be what is FOREMOST in your thoughts). I shall enumerate!

For one, I first fell in love with books when I started reading Middle Grade. Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Ellen Raskin and Ann M. Martin come clearly to mind whenever I stop and reminisce about my childhood. You know how they say you never get over your first love? I believe that to be true of many things. For me, that includes reading.

I adore writing from the point-of-view of kids, especially kids that are anywhere from 7 to 13 years old. I think it's a magical time, but one that is also rife with conflicts: conflicts that can seem thoroughly epic to someone with limited life experience (and sometimes even thoroughly epic to anybody).

Speaking of magic...ah, magic. I really enjoy writing about fantastical things. The Mapmaker and the Ghost has touches of fantasy but the latest book I'm working on takes place in a whole fantastical world. And let me tell you: it's been SO fun to write. I'm pretty sure I'm going to try writing contemporary MGs at some point too (in fact, the next one I just started thinking about is), but--for me--MG lends itself to fantasy so wonderfully. I think it's because the MG audience still believes in bits of magic. The secret is...I do too. I think there are touches of magic all around us and being able to expand upon that in a story...well, I'm not sure how many other audiences will give you the same leeway to do so.

Humor. I love writing it and I never laughed harder as a child than I did when reading a really funny book. I'm not sure I ever lost that silly/slightly mischievous sense of humor. In other words, the average 8-year-old will probably find me funnier than the average 38-year-old. I have accepted this to be true.

The great Madeleine L'Engle once said, "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."

And I love writing for children. I really do.

If you're a writer, what do you think compels you to work in the genre you work in?


  1. I LOVE that L'Engle quote! And I'm an average 38-year-old, and I think you're funny, too. Can't wait to read MAPMAKER!!!

  2. Thanks for the kind words and for the lovely post! I miss seeing magic all around and I do remember laughing until I was pretty much incoherent. Can't wait for MAPMAKER and glad you're on the MG beat!

  3. I write Medieval Fantasy, I love magic, huge armies, the use of shields and sword and tons of dark creatures. It apart of me, I couldn’t even consider writing anything else.

  4. Thanks, Eve, Leigh and Jeff! Eve, I'm thrilled you think I'm funny. :-)