Monday, March 23, 2015

March Madness: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills

Today's March Madness is a wonderful post from Wendy Mills about why she writes for teenagers. :)

MEET THE BOOK!

Why I Write for Teens
I wrote Positively Beautiful as a young adult book because that was the way I needed to tell this story. But as I wrote it, and gobbled up young adult books like a starving person at a Golden Corral buffet, I began to realize this was the genre for me. I’ve thought a lot about what is so appealing about teen fiction to me, and this is what I’ve come up with.   

1. The pure, raw emotion. This one is a bigee for me. Just like actors love to play “meaty” characters, an author loves to write about characters with a lot of emotion, who feel everything in a nerves-on-the-outside-of-their skin kind of way. Teens feel a lot. 

2. Books that make an impact. I know that there are adult books that readers connect with in a big way, but in my experience this happens less and less often as I get older. It takes a lot more to wow me than it used to. However, I do remember the books I read when I was young, and how passionate I felt about some of them, how I read them over and over again, and how those books made me want to be something, do something. These are the type of books I want to write.

3. Navigating the gray areas. When we are little, things are good or bad, right or wrong. But as we get older, we began to understand that our choices are not often starkly black and white. Teens are beginning to learn how to navigate in this gray area where the best decisions are not so obvious. They are learning that the choices can be hard, but that they still have to make the best ones they can. This makes for delicious conflicts.  

4. High Stakes. In Writing 101 they tell you to write a book with high stakes. And in some ways you can’t go wrong with teen books, because everything is high stakes. What you wear to school can be high stakes, or who you sit with at lunch. They are high stakes because they matter so much to the characters. Everything to teens is so immediate, with a kind of breathless urgency that imbues the most ordinary scene with tension and conflict. If such a mundane thing like the choice of lunch partner is so vital to a teen, imagine what it would feel like to find out you have a mutated gene that gives you upwards of an 80% chance of getting breast cancer in your lifetime.

5. Room for mistakes. Teens make mistakes. We all do, of course, but teens make little mistakes, and big ones, and medium-sized ones, on an almost daily basis. THIS IS THEIR JOB. This is how they learn. Adults can talk themselves blue in the face about the mistakes they made, and what they learned from them (blah, blah, blah), but until a teen feels it for themselves, they will not understand. I’m sure there are people who navigated their teenage years smoothly with a minimum of fuss. This was not my experience. And since I write about things that I know, the teens in my books are allowed to make messy, life-changing mistakes as much and as often as they have to.

6. Open-mindedness. Teens have graduated from the school of “What My Parents Believe Is the Gospel Truth” to “I Can Have My Own Opinions About Things? Reeaally.” They haven’t yet had the experience to form their own opinions about people, and life, and the world, and I enjoy exploring diverse themes and situations with an open-minded audience.

Why, as an adult, do you like to read (or write) teen fiction?


I love to read about teens, because I think they're so misunderstood and there is just something about that age group that makes me love their stories. :)

*****

Thanks so much for stopping by, Wendy! And thanks to her generosity, I have a giveaway for y'all! One winner will receive an audiobook copy of Positively Beautiful. And this is international! :) (Please be sure to read the rules on my policies tab).

12 comments:

  1. AHHHHHH! I was hoping this one would make it's way to your March Madness!

    I love this book! So freaking much! I'm kind of acting like a fangirl right now, but I don't care. Everyone needs to read this book! It's emotional and bittersweet, but it's oh so hopeful. I love it so much!

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

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    1. Fan girls rock! Thank you for helping get the word out about Positively Beautiful, Erin!

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    2. Yay, I am so SO glad to hear you loved this one! It sounds amazing. :)

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    3. It is amazing! Gut-wrenching, but amazing!

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  2. Oh yay, right again! (Though knowing I am right for the rest of the event does take some of the anticipation away, but I had to let Val know!)

    I agree with Wendy about all of this! Those reasons are definitely why I read YA, and why when I do write stuff, I can basically only write YA too. I have read plenty of "adult" books, but Wendy is so right- they do not make an impact on me as much as YA at ALL. Even the ones that are supposed to usually fall short.

    Plus, I think I am just kind of a bit YA at heart. Fine, completely YA at heart, Whatever. ;)

    This book sounds fantastic. I will definitely be reading it. I was only a few years older than Erin when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn't have the gene, but oddly, her sister was diagnosed at the exact same age with the exact type of tumor, so I have to assume there is SOME genetic component at play. I was in college, and can't imagine would it would have been like in high school. I think this book will be so helpful to SO many girls and women when faced with this situation, so thank you, Wendy, for writing such an important book!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. Thank you, Shannon! The idea for this book haunted me for a while before I got up the courage to write it. We're going to see a lot more genetic testing in the years to come, and this is going to inevitably effect our kids. They are going to know a lot about their genetic future before they are ready to deal with it. Positive thoughts coming your way for you and your family.

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    2. Aw Shannon, that sounds so scary! I hope everything is good. <3

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  3. Happy birthday month, Holly! Thanks for inviting me to celebrate with you!

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    1. Thank YOU for joining this event! I loved this guest post. :)

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  4. the stories can be interesting

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  5. I love the emotions in YA books! They make me FEEL. I absolutely love that. One of the biggest reasons I love reading YA, though, is that I can relate to it. I still sorta consider myself a teen (for the next six months, anyway--oh man, I'll be twenty soon O_O). I love how there are room for mistakes. I've learned a lot from the mistakes YA characters have made and the problems they've dealt with.

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    1. YOU ARE STILL A TEEN, KAITLIN. :P I love how YA characters are so relatable and (most of the time) genuine. Their emotions, the way the think and feel and how they view the world, is something I just love reading about. :)

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