Season turning & question about taking risks

This morning’s sunrise felt like it had the angle of springtime. I haven’t been down the road for a few days, but I bet they’re getting ready to tap the maple trees on the farm.

Thank you, everyone for the kind and wonderful comments about the magic window and the cottage. BH spent all day yesterday sanding the window and we promise we’ll be updating regularly on the progress. The anticipated completion date is late summer/early fall.

WINTERGIRLS is #3 on Indiebound’s Kid’s Indie Next List for Spring. This is a list of exciting new titles compiled by the independent booksellers. Be sure to check out the whole thing.

Let’s go to the mailbag!

You wrote: How do you know if people accept or condemn like your book? …. What I mean is, how do you know if, because your book might have a few aspects that will undoubtably raise some conservative eyebrows, that it won’t just be deemed inappropriate and nobody will want to read it?

Speak is one of my favorite books, and one of the things I love about is that you don’t try to shove the subject of rape under the ring, or use lavender words to merely allude to it. You tackled it straight-on, which a lot of writers won’t do because–heaven forbid–it’s a difficult topic.

This excellent question goes to the heart of YA literature. When we write for teens, we are writing for millions of readers with vast differences in maturity level, experiences, and background. They come from diverse families. Some kids will be ready for books that are gritty and realistic, others won’t be. This is why parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and reviewers are all part of the YA literature universe.

Someone will always pop up to object to or complain about your book, no matter what you write. That’s a given. There is no way you can please everyone. Neither can you write a book that will appeal to everyone’s tastes. First and foremost, you need to write the book that is in your heart.

When I am towards the end of my revision process, I give serious thought to my intended reader. If I had written any of my books for an adult audience, I am sure I would have made some different choices. I wanted SPEAK to be appropriate for younger as well as older teens because so many young teens are sexually assaulted; they are easy targets because they are young and naive. I deliberately toned down Melinda’s memory of the rape scene, made it less graphic, for that reason. The less-graphic description works organically within the story because when she was raped, she’d had a couple beers, so the memory is a little blurred around the edges. In part because I made the decision not to give a sexually graphic description of the rape, most people feel comfortable handing the book to 8th graders, and some to 7th graders.

And then there are the folks who feel it is a book that should only be given to a senior in high school, at the end of senior year, because that’s when they are old enough to discuss these issues and read stories that reflect the realities of sexual assault.

We cannot control how people react to our books. Our job is to write; write honestly, write with passion and compassion, write the true. Does that help?

WINTERGIRLS goes on sale in 15 days!!