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01 October 2014

Why Write Mid-Grade?

Most authors of mid-grade novels get the question at some point, "Why do you write for teens? Why not write for adults?" And within the kidlit community, "Why write mid-grade? Why not Young Adult?"
      As a picture book author/illustrator, I'd heard the stories of such conversations, but I thought it was a clichĂ©, a myth of the writing community, until word about my new mid-grade fiction, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, got out, and I started getting the question too. Happily, I have an answer.
      Adult and Young Adult novels seem to me to be mostly about solving a problem, or finding that perfect mate, or re-discovering oneself. I skip all that and go back to the beginning, when a main character isn't re-discovering anything - they are discovering who they are for the first time.
      To me, it makes for an unpredictable scenario. A young mind is one that isn't yet set in its ways. A young teen doesn't yet know if they are good or bad, if they make good decisions or not yet. It's all new territory and the pendulum could swing either way. Are they a person who stands up for what they believe in, or somebody who goes along with the status quo - with what's expected of them?
      And if a first kiss gets thrown in there while we're at it, where's the harm in that? Because no kiss will ever again feel like that first kiss. It's all about firsts really, when the world is still a wonder. When a teen is trying to make sense of it all. Really, it's a sensation we never lose in life, which is why I find it especially profound to explore those emotions when they're happening for the first time. It's why mid-grade may very well be a sweet spot for me. I hope for my readers too!

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