Monday, October 02, 2006

Why I Write For Boys

While I've always been driven to write, I caught a compulsion to write books for boys when my own two were growing up. I can so clearly remember when they'd finally mastered reading and were so excited to dive into the world of Books. Except there were so few stories that engaged them. Having been read to for years, they wanted action and excitement and adventure! Not the simple school/best friend/slice of life stories that were written at their reading level. In fact, that's how The Forging of the Blade was conceived, an action-packed, Tolkienesque adventure for emerging readers with third grade level reading skills.

The funny thing was, reviewers didn't get that book. At. All. But just about every elementary school teacher or librarian I talked to most emphatically did. And it was the Texas Librarians (TLA) who really gave that book a chance to find it's audience when they nominated it to the Bluebonnet list. (Have I said how much I HEART librarians!!)

When I wrote Werewolf Rising, I wanted to explore boys' puberty experience a bit. I'd watched my sons and their friends get hit by this wallop called male adolescence, and watched them struggle to make sense of all the emotions and sensations flooding their bodies, and I was struck by what an incredible transition it was. How much they were truly transformed. And I wanted to come up with a concrete, physical manifestation of that change, and thus lycanthians were born.

My own puberty experience, and that of my women friends, seemed more gradual somehow. Maybe simply because estrogen is a kinder, gentler hormone than testosterone, I don't know.

I was also struck by how much guys seemed to crave mentors. How much they loved being around men. They seemed to need that contact with older male role models in a way that was much different than girls. Probably because both tended to be around women more in their younger lives, so boys had more role modeling to catch up on, which was further fueled by the testosterone wave.

But here's a funny little thing about writing. You're not always writing about what you think you're writing about. At least, I'm not. I really thought the primary theme of Werewolf Rising was going to be control; learning to control new, unfamiliar urges. Instead, it really turned out to be about bigotry.


Chari-Dee said...

And have I told you how HAPPY I am that you do write for boys? My son, as you know, LOVES the Lowthar's Blade Trilogy books, and although he is only in the 1st grade, he can read them himself (if a bit slowly) he a fairly advanced reader, I read them to him, and he cannot get enough. He so wants me to read him Werewolf Rising, and I told him that both you and I thought it would be too old for him, he started to whine, "Well, ask her to write more books for ME!" LOL, he really does love your books.

And although you do write with the male in mind, young women love your books too. The winner of our contest for Werewolf Rising wrote a review and I posted it on the review blog. I'm also going to ask her and Michael questions about your books, and do a He Read/She Read sort of thing. I thought since you are the featured author over on the Cherry Forums this would be a great month to do that!!! Plus, I'm interested to see if they find different things in the books, being different gender and all.

Anyway, Thanks for writing. My son loves your books, and now checks out books with out pictures because he knows how entertaining that can be. That is worth its weight in gold!!!