Girls just want to have fun.
You probably know that line as the title of an old movie and an even older song, and you probably also know it’s mostly accurate. It describes us pretty well, too, if you’re generous with the “girls” part.
We’re HL Carpenter, the mother/daughter writing team of Helen and Lorri, and in preparation for this post we thought long and hard about why we write young adult fiction. We wanted to come up with a deep, insightful reason. You know, a response centered on touching lives and making a difference and all those genuine, inspiring truths other authors understand intuitively and express so beautifully.
We wish we’d been successful. Instead, we came up with the opening line of this blog post, and the realization that “why” questions are really tough.
Since we’re obviously not deep and insightful, we’ll edit the question. Instead of why do we write young adult, we’ll pretend the question is “do we write young adult?” That’s a question to which we know the answer: No. No, we do not write young adult books.
We write what we like to read – stories about plucky characters who wrestle with insecurities and frustrations, who fail and succeed and fail again, and who discover they are, at bottom, admirable and courageous and ordinary and not-so-ordinary, all at the same time. That’s as true of our very first heroine, a septuagenarian sleuth, as it is of the teenager in our most recent young adult novel.
Whatever their age or outward appearance, in whatever genre of book life they dwell, all our characters have something in common: They’re real people. They learn and change and teach us about ourselves and how to cope with the world we live in, despite self-perceived limitations. They’re the people we wish we could be and the people we may yet grow into being. They’re us, only better…and yet they’re not us. They give us a way to explore and to become, in the safety of a place that could be and probably is, somewhere out there, just up ahead, past the innocent sunflower swaying delicately in the gentle breeze, and around the darkly mysterious curve beyond.
We want to travel with them, to complete a quest we cannot abandon, and to emerge, covered with sweat and grit, victorious and humbled.
That’s why we write young adult books…or rather, why we don’t write young adult books…or…darn! “Why” questions are really tough!
And girls just want to have fun.
This post was originally published in August 2012 on the blog of LizBotts.com