Anybody ever had this conversation with your kids? Your parents? Your friends? I’m sure a lot of you are saying yes.
Now imagine you’re writing a book yourself, and you’ve already decided it’s going to be a YA novel. But since you also read a lot of YA, you’re aware that many of the teenagers in adolescent fiction are, in fact, not good role models for your own kids.
And then it hits you — you really don’t want your own work to be something you encourage your children to stay away from.
When I wrote years ago (before I was a parent), I thought nothing of throwing in the occasional bawdy joke, or reference to illicit substance use, if it fit the context of the situation. But nowadays, I double check myself constantly. Does my character seriously need to swear in this moment? Do they actually have to consider going “all the way” with their significant other? Would I really want my 13-year-old reading about someone being hungover?
Yeah, it’s more realistic to have some of this stuff in any kind of fiction, even fantasy fiction. But let’s face it, I don’t want to write a ton of it, any more than I want to read a ton of it. It’s a personal preference, but also, I feel, important to consider in this instance. Life is complicated, and difficult, and there’s something very precious about preserving the innocence of childhood.
So when you read my series, be prepared for pretty clean stuff. And clean doesn’t have to mean boring. Clean shouldn’t mean that a story doesn’t get judged on its own merits, like strength of characters and plot. In this day and age, it may even mean that some people will be attracted to my work as something “different.”