Saturday, February 11, 2012

Most of my favorite books are books I read when I was a kid. That's why I really want to work with young adult and middle grade books. I think they are the most important books in a person's life. I can remember exactly what happens in all my ratty LJ Smith books, but if you ask me what happened in something I read a  year ago, I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

When I applied for colleges, one of the questions they would ask in interviews was "What is your favorite book?" or something similar. I knew they wanted me to say something literary and explain why Shakespeare had changed my life (To be fair, Shakespeare did change by life but not until I was already in college.) But I just couldn't do it. I would always name a young adult book that I was fond of. Sometimes the interviewer would look at me funny. Sometimes they'd smile because I'm sure most applicants lied through their teeth.

I think one of them wanted a book that touched us emotionally and I selected "WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS" because, damn, that book made me cry for hours. The dogs, you guys, the dogs! The memories of this are kind of hazy.

I've loved these type of books all my life. It makes me very upset to see a query for a young adult novel from someone saying they used to write adult fiction but did YA because they thought it'd be "easier." It's not easier. It's just different. And if you're not going to take it seriously, then I can't take you seriously.


  1. Well said Ms. Keyes!
    Hopefully you take my query seriously, because I am VERY serious about writing YA! :)

  2. Love this post. I was introduce to WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS as a fourth grader, and I bawled myself to sleep for days. I used to imagine a different ending just to make myself feel better. Then I grew up a little and realized the tragedy of the ending was actually what made the deepest impression, and in turn made the book one of my favorite books of all time. And I can't imagine writing anything other than YA. It's just who I am. :)

    1. I always imagined further adventures for my favorite books as a kid. It helped me fall asleep at night (like I was telling myself a story). Now they tell me that is called "fan fiction." But apparently it saves dogs' lives!

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