“Who Do You Write For?”
I find this such an interesting question because, if you’re a kidlit author, the answer should seem obvious. Unfortunately, for some, it’s not. But let me say unequivocally, that I write for kids and teens. First and foremost and probably forever. I love that adults read my books. I’m an adult who reads almost exclusively YA and middle grade. But when I’m sitting down to write, when I’m thinking through a new project, when I’m considering my audience, I’m thinking about kids and teens.
YA is a unique subset of literature because being an adolescent is a unique time of life. You’re not a child, but you’re not an adult yet either. In a lot of ways, it’s more “tween” than even the middle school years are. Adults love to treat teens like adults when it suits them, and they like to relegate teens back to childhood when that serves the purpose as well. It’s tough. I remember it well. Most people do, and I think that’s because it is so unique. YA has the beautiful responsibility of telling stories about this one, unforgettable, never-to-be-repeated time in one’s life. It is full of questions and possibility and that is what I love about it. When I set out to become a writer, I wanted to write for kids and teens. I did that on purpose because I want to give kids and teens books that shape their lives, or at least, have the potential to shape their lives. Books that comfort and heal and challenge and validate.
Now, all this doesn’t mean that I don’t also write for myself. I do. It would be hard to write well unless I did. Because I have to love it. Writing is difficult and what pulls me through the tough moments is that I simply don’t want to do anything else. I love creating stories. I love their power. But for me, writing for myself is all tangled up in writing for kids and teens. The stories I love most are the stories for kids and teens. When I’m typing away at my laptop, a new story that no human eyes other than mine have seen under my fingertips, there’s a certain magic to that. To that time when it is only mine and I can do anything I want to while creating it. But part of what makes that time so exciting is the hope that I will one day get to share it.
Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.
All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.
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