Today I'm the blog tour stop for the Awkward by Marni Bates book blog tour hosted by Shanyn @Chick Loves Lit! Yaaay! I have a guest post from Marni, in which I offend her and call her an adult *gasp!* I have learned my lesson, especially since my youngest brother just recently made a comment about how this actress turned 45 and is now extremely old and my darling mother, who's 43, almost had a heart attack at horrors of that comment. Alas, I take from this a very valuable lesson that no one is old or really, an adult ;D Here is Marni answering my terrible questions *shame faced*:
As an adult, how hard and easy is it to write a YA book?
I’m an adult? Really? Hold please, while I call up my grandma and tell her you just called
She thinks you’ve been sadly misinformed.
Truthfully, I think I will still find it incredibly easy to write young adult fiction when I am
in my forties . . . and fifties . . . and sixties . . . and beyond. Let me clarify that “easy”
though: it’s not because I’m dumbing myself down for teens or because writing YA
doesn’t require the same attention as literary fiction. Anyone who thinks that is freaking
clueless. I believe that the key to writing in the genre is the ability to empathize with
the frustration of wanting to be something other than who you are right now. I spent
most of high school wishing that I knew how to flirt and socialize like everyone else at
my school. I gritted my teeth and promised myself that in college I would reach my cool
potential. Then I spent the vast majority of college frustrated that my awkward stage
still refused to go away.
But I was able to laugh at myself. That’s honestly what got me through the misery of
feeling like an odd duck surrounded by, you know, more conventionally attractive ducks.
I’ve spent years wondering what it would be like to be one of the cool kids. One of the
athletic kids. One of the drama kids. One of the kinds who seemed to breeze through
high school with a myth attached to them; usually that they would cure cancer or end
the conflict in the Middle East or something important like that.
I never fit into any of those groups. I wasn’t even a “writer kid” in college because I
never did anything serious. In college, wanting to write about the messages high school
girls are receiving from the media (as well as from their peers) isn’t considered classy.
In order to become suitably impressive, I’d have to write a tragic short story that would
end with a dead dog.
Thanks, but I’ll pass.
Anyhow, those years of imagining how I would act or what I would do differently, have
now paid off. Now it’s my job to tap into the emotional insecurities of fake people until
they feel absolutely real to me.
I hope I never lose the ability to empathize with others. I think it’s essential if you want
to be a good friend (or more generally, a good person). So as long as I can connect with
the wide range of my characters’ emotions, I’ll be writing.
And I suspect I’ll be writing young adult fiction.
Here’s what I love about this specific genre: it tends to focus on kids at a time in their
lives when they are about to decide what kind of people they want to become. Even
if it’s unintentional, all of these little choices can have this unbelievably huge effect.
That’s why I saw high school as a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. And, okay, that
also freaked me out. What if I picked the wrong thing and ended up working a miserable
desk job at an accounting firm (worst fate imaginable)! What then?
Um, I guess I would apply to work somewhere else?
Looking back, some of my fears were blown way out of proportion. But there is
definitely a lot of pressure in high school to not just have the answers but to have the
right answers. My senior year of high school all my mom’s friends wanted to know my
life goals. Um, I go to school with some really smart people and almost none of us know
the answer to that question—and we’ve had an extra four years to think about it!
That makes writing YA fiction easier too, because most of those basic fears about the
future don’t go away. Instead of freaking out over the SATs and college admission
essays, my friends are freaking out over the LSAT and . . . grad school admission essays.
I know. So different.
But I also think that as people get older they have a harder time reinventing themselves.
Unless you are incredibly rich, it’s unlikely that you can just Eat, Pray, Love for as long
as you want. And even if you did hang out in a monastery for months, you’d probably
discover that after a few weeks back in society you’d be back to regularly checking
At least that’s what would probably happen for me.
That’s why I write about teenagers whose primary struggle is to find a way to live with
themselves. Whether they are being chased by the media (Awkward) or looking for
some recognition (Invisible) or fleeing a seriously pissed off drug dealer (Notable), I
think the hardest part for the characters is finding a way to come to terms with their
And that’s why I love my job!