Thursday, 15 December 2011

How much is *too* much???

 Work on the new book is coming along nicely and the end is definitely within sight! But as I reach the final chapters I'm confronted again with the question: how much is *too* much for a book aimed at 11-14 year olds?

I work with tweens and teens so I'm under no illusions about the kinds of things they're involved in. Life just keeps getting more and more complicated in a world where change seems to happen overnight.

My last chapters involve some fairly drastic twists and turns - a night out which ends with a spiked drink, serious humiliation and the inevitable mobile phone video. Bad as this seems, it pales beside the finale - an act of terrorism with devastating consequences.

In the middle of all this is my hero,  a teenage boy called Adam from a rather unusual family. He's smart and funny and a little bit geeky. He's confronted daily with all sorts of life and death issues when all he really wants is a normal life.

Tween and teen fiction can be a mixed bag - either trying to protect young people or going to the other extreme; in-yer-face 'issues' or gore. I'm constantly amazed and humbled by the challenges life throws at some teenagers and the grace with which so many acquit themselves. In the end most teenagers, like Adam, are simply trying to find their place in the world and a way of making sense of the madness.

So maybe the writer's job is to be honest and unflinching - as long as it's not all doom and gloom. A little bit of humour and escapism goes a long way towards easing the pain - in books as in life!


Lisa said...

How to say this, from a parent who struggled mightily w/ teen issues, and who is finally seeing the rewards of standing behind their teen? It seems that issues are much, much harder on kids now than they were even 10 years ago...likewise, their peers are even tougher and more judgmental than they used to be. I think it's important to convey hope...that although this is an important time in their lives, in even 5 years it will mean nothing, that life goes on, things change and get better, that the cliques mean nothing, that if they hang in there and are true to themselves everything will come together...I could go on forever...if you can do that subtly then you've done a service.These kids need as much hope as they can get...heaven knows they aren't getting it from each other and many aren't getting it from their parents. Stepping off the soapbox now...can't wait to read your book(s)!

ellie said...

So much media is in the hands and on the fingertips of youth, everyday. I have a feeling they may expect a lot of this in the stories they read these days.

Debbie McCune *Notebook to Novel* said...

Both great points ladies! Lisa, I know what you mean - teenagers have a totally different sense of time - everything seems to take so much longer when you're a teenager! It can feel like you're stuck, just waiting for your life to start happening. Hope is definitely important and I always try to end on a high. And Ellie you're right about the media thing - one of the reasons why I've made one of Adam's friends an accomplished hacker and general tech savvy dude! :-)

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