On writing for children and young adults.

What is true: I don’t have children but I read a lot of books for children.

What is also true: I want to write books for children but I don’t know how (yet).

What I do know: It helps to read a lot of books written for children. Hundreds of them, if possible.

What I believe: Writing books for children and young adults is the hardest. It is so difficult to get it right, and so easy to get it very wrong. Too many people assume it’s easier to write for young audiences when the opposite is true. A children’s book editor said to me once, with a very wry smile, I read piles of books that never see the light of day.

What I’m trying to write: A contemporary young adult fiction novel set in present-day Tacoma, where a 15-year-old lesbian copes with the violent death of her best friend by becoming close with his older brother.

What I’m stuck on: Plot, structure, character-building, how to move forward when I feel stuck and doubt myself, what to do with a messy pile of words.

What I ask when I want to get to know someone: What was your favorite book as a child, the one you can’t forget, the one you can picture in your hands, the one that comes alive completely in your imagination?

What I loved reading as a child: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald, Wayside Stories by Louis Sachar, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

What impresses me as an adult: the way Brandy Colbert moves a plot forward with something as simple and burning as a secret, the laser-sharp dialogue by Angie C. Thomas, the depth of the characters in Robin Benway’s stories, the heart-pounding pacing in Britta Lundin’s scenes, the creativity in Adam Silvera’s world-building, the deep blue moods in Nina LaCour’s books.

What I think when I meet someone small-minded and unkind: I’m so sorry you didn’t read enough books as a child; I’m sorry that no one took the time to read to you.

What I’m currently reading: P.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy, Puddin’ by Julie Murphy.

What I just finished reading: Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves.

What I’ll read next: Leah on the Offbeat by Becca Albertalli, White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig, My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma.

Featured image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash