I sat in the audience of the BEA Middle Grade Author Buzz today, listening to three authors discuss their upcoming books. They fielded questions about where they got their ideas, how many drafts they usually wrote, how they felt about being labeled fantasy writers, writing to boys versus girls. All three were pleasant and articulate and I was happy to grab the advanced reading copies of their work, which I will devour as soon as I can. I happen to love Middle Grade books. There’s something so lovely about pre-pubescent stories, the absence of all that smelly, hormonal angst that YA books are steeped in (although I love YA books, too).
I wanted to ask a question, but I couldn’t quite put together a coherent enough sentence, even in my own mind. What did I want to know? It was something about voice, about writing the characters, about capturing the essence of an 8 to 12 year old, and getting it to ring true on paper. How do they do that? It’s not about writing a story and then dumbing down the language or vocabulary. At least these authors hadn’t.
After the panel discussion was over I kind of slunk up to one of the writers and sort of fumbled around with a half assed question. He was so kind and generous and somehow extracted what it was I wanted to know. He said, “I write to my 11 year old self. I write characters I would have wanted to read about or know when I was that age.” I love that. I can get that. That just seemed like such an authentic way to go about it.
All afternoon I’ve been trying to remember who I was when I was 8, 9, 10 years old. What books did I read and love when I was 12? How about you? Who were you? What did you read?