Have you ever wanted to jump genres, just because?
When my son was in third grade, I had the hare-brained idea to pen a kid’s book. It would based on one of my favorite Japanese fairy tales, but set in contemporary San Diego. I didn’t let the fact I hadn’t written for kids before stop me. Nor had I written fantasy since approximately sixth grade. A fantasy book it had to be, though.
In the adult fiction world, there tends to be a perception that writing kid lit must be easy, because the books are generally shorter. And some purveyors of “serious lit” say that adults shouldn’t be reading kids’ books at all, much less, one would imagine, actually writing them. ( I’m here to say that both are utterly and completely false. If you have a problem with that, you can meet me in the sawdust pit at dawn to settle our differences). *
First I wanted to settle the small matter of the plot. I’d grown up a fan of all the usual suspects, your Narnias and your Prydains and your Meg Murrays and so on and so forth. Had I read widely in my kids’ more contemporary libraries? Of course, but there’s something about the books you read when you were a child that stick with your soul. I tried to remake my book into a model of one of those books from my childhood.
After a few drafts, I got it into what seemed like reasonable shape and showed it to my agent. There were interesting moments, yes, and some solid relationships. My agent sent it out to a few places and it got rejected. One place actually said it reminded her too much like A Wrinkle in Time. Another opined that it began too slowly (kids’ books these days are faster paced). And the final rejection from my ultimate dream editor, which was like a splintered chopstick in my heart, said she loved Japanese tales but she’d been hoping for more humor and action. [Read more…]