I’m often asked why I write books for kids and teens instead of grown up books, and my answer is always this: I write for kids and teens because the books we read when we’re young begin to shape and define not only our reading tastes, but our very selves. Rarely do the books we read as adults become a part of our emotional DNA in quite the same way.
As many writers quickly learn, once we become a writer it can be much more difficult to simply read for pleasure. I am too aware of the craft, too attuned to what makes a book ‘work’, too well-acquainted with my own internal editor, to fully lose myself in a book. So when that does happen, it is a big, big deal; something to be celebrated but also—because I’m a writer—studied.
When I deeply love a book as an adult it’s usually because it has managed to rock my world in such a way that I know it has permanently changed how I look at and approach the craft of writing itself.
It occurred to me that these books become a part of my writerly DNA just as surely as the books of my youth became a part of my emotional DNA. Much like the books of my childhood, these stories open me up to the world of possibilities—not just in stories, but in craft. They show me what amazing things can be done within the scope of story. They give me a moment of true astonishment where I often think, “Oh, we’re allowed to do that?” and my writing world tilts on its axis.
As writers, it can be hugely eye opening to sit down and really look at which books have formed our writerly DNA. [Read more…]