Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bobbie Pyron on Writing Young Adult Books

Bobbie Pyron is a writer and YA author. In her book, The Ring, fifteen-year-old Mardie is trying her best to fit in at high school, with disastrous results. She finally hits rock bottom and her salvation is the boxing ring. I asked Bobbie to share with us why she writes for young adults.

Here's my "musings" on writing for teens and younger kids. My teen novel, The Ring, and my mid-grade novel due out next January (2011) are both stand-alones.

Here's a typical scenario for those of us who write for teens and younger kids encounter frequently: we meet someone for the first time--say at a party or on an airplane--and they ask what we do. We say (with pride and humility):

"I, um, am a writer."

"Oh," the questioner says, thinking you might be more interesting than you look. "What do you write?"

We say, "I write novels for teens and for kids grades four and up."

The person narrows their eyes and says, "Why don't you write real books? You know, like for adults. Are these books you're writing now just for practice?"

After enduring this scenario with the tedious frequency of the poor sap in "Groundhog Day," I've learned to say with pride:

"No, actually. I have no intention of writing for adults. I love writing for kids and teens."

Usually, the questioner doesn't ask why, they just shrug and move along. But you asked so I will tell you why I write for teens and kids: because they're brutally and passionately honest. They are honest with the world and they are honest with their many, many feelings and they are honest readers.

I love the big questions kids and teens are wrestling with in their own lives: who am I? how do I fit in this world? what do I believe in? what is worth fighting for and why shouldn't I ask questions? what is my north star, my passion? I love exploring all these questions with my characters and with my readers.

I have no interest in writing about adulterous husbands or corporate greed or who killed who. I want to write about people who are on that cusp, poised on that point, of staying in that safe cocoon of all they've ever been told about the world and who they are in it, and setting out to break free and explore. And by writing these stories, I get to break free and explore those same questions about myself, too. That's why I write for teens and kids.

Bobbie Pyron is the author of The Ring (Oct. 2009, WestSide Books) and A Dog's Way Home (February, 2011, HarperCollins. You can find out more about her on her website:


Amanda Leigh said...

I also think it must be great to be a YA write b/c of the response from readers. Since, overall, they are more vocal about their feeling, it must be wonderful getting to hear their feedback about the books.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

This is a great explanation on why write YA. But, I am also wondering... Who do these people think create the books that kids read? Are the YA and children not suppose to read books? We have to have some one do the writing.