The lovely book "therapists" at My Book Therapy, a boutique that provides full-service assistance to aspiring writers, are doing a blog tour and they've landed right here on little old What Was I Reading? Over the course of the next couple of weeks I'll be bringing you articles and tid-bits as a teaser for their new book Writing from the Inside... Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You. There are tons of cool promotions going on, and here is the place to find out about them.
To get us started, I thought I'd post an article from one of the therapists, Sarah Anne Sumpolec. I read a good deal of YA Literature (and don't have the handy excuse of being either a young adult and/or interacting with young adults on a regular basis), and the series I'm writing is YA literature. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to get the opinion of Sumpolec, a published YA author, as to: Why YA?
Sumpolec writes in her article, "Why I Love to Write YA":
My first book idea grew out of my work with our church’s youth group. I tried going to Women’s Bible Studies and do all the grown up things, but I always felt called to care for the youth. So writing for them simply became a natural extension of what I already loved to do.That's a lot like why I wanted to write YA literature... I saw lots of teens snatching up book series that were okay, fine, whatever, but not the kind of stuff that was really teaching them about life (in my case, literature) in the fullest sense of the term. The real straw that broke my back was when Stephenie Meyer was asked a question about symbolism in her books and she responded that she was just telling stories. That got me to thinking, "Why do lots of teens like to read vampire novels or the Gossip Girl series, but they don't like Lord of the Flies?" I wanted to reinvent LotF for contemporary readers, in a contemporary format, with contemporary imagery, but still use the devices of symbolism and motif to teach to a larger theme (the same theme that William Golding was addressing with his original work). Granted, not that I'd say that my books are going to be taught in public high schools 60 years from now, but I want to see books that teach teens how to critically read.
Even now, I spend more than twelve hours a week hanging out with eighty kids and teens at our local Christian Youth Theater. I like being around them. I love to encourage them. And I want to do all I can to help them as they grow in Christ. My own teen years were tough (whose weren’t?) and I didn’t have anyone to talk to or turn to. I simply want to be available to these teens. You just never know when you might get the chance to offer a few life-giving words from God.
So who I am as a person, and who I am as a writer are hopelessly intertwined. I’ve written five novels for teens and over and over, God has shown me how a simple story can affect the lives of teenagers. But they need more. I’ve lost track of how many letters I’ve gotten where a teen wrote, “I read all five of your books last week…” Teens are hungry for truth and stories that they can relate to. They need more great stuff to read that is written for them, by people who care about them.
The YA market can be tough. But we can’t write because a certain market is booming. We must write out of our God-given passions and that’s what YA is for me – a passion. So yes, I realize that Amish books sell really well, but I’m staying in high school. It’s where I belong.
If you'd like more information about the services provided by the book therapists at My Book Therapy, visit http://www.mybooktherapy.com/. If you want more information about their book tour (that'll be making three more stops on the blog), check out the tour website.
Finally, if you want to look more into my idea of contemporary literature that "teaches," check out my website at http://www.heathernkemp.com/ and click the link for "Freshman Failures."