Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fits Like a Glove

     Why do I write for the ten to fourteen year-old Tween market? Because it fits. I don’t think I set out to become a Tween/YA author, but I believe I have found a niche and have grown into this genre. When I get an idea or hear an interesting fact I think can be developed into a story, more often than not it develops in my head from the viewpoint of a kid or teenager. Writing in the Tween/YA seems to fit well with my writer voice, it fits like a glove.
     In my MuseItYoung debut novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS, that is exactly how the process happened. The original idea came from a story told by a relative many years ago. He saw I was reading a book about the infamous outlaws, the Younger Brothers. He told me a family legend handed down from his old uncle, who grew up in the late1800’s on a southwest Missouri farm. According to the story, Cole and Jim Younger spent the night in their barn while on the run from Pinkerton detectives after the James-Younger gang robbed a bank. I immediately thought it would make a great story.
     But, several false starts told from the adult POV flittered away to nothingness. Finally, I began to see things from a young boy’s POV and a story began to fall in place.  The Younger brothers would be outlaw heroes of the boy main character while his parent’s would lead a life completely against anything to do with rebels or outlaws. The story grew feet and started to walk, but it was still a short story at best. Then, in church one day, the readings included the following:

“All from least to greatest shall know me says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34.

     Through this simple verse about redemption and forgiveness, the story took off. A whole back story began to grow of a secret past shared between the parents and the outlaws. A past intertwined with the atrocities of the Border War battle for “Bloody” Kansas with it's gangs of ruffians, Quantrill’s Raiders from Missouri and Doc Jennison’s Redlegs from Kansas. And from the POV of the young boy, who knows nothing of this hidden past, it sets up a very solid framework to build an interesting surprise visit by his heroes, the Youngers. With this setup in place, the ideas really began to flow and my novel was born.
     The Tweener's energy, their innocence, and their rebellious attitude make this genre fun to write. The Tweener’s characteristic ability to know everything sans experience and to see the world through a fresh, clean lens opens the door to a world of possibility. That’s why I like reading and writing from the Tween perspective; why it appeals to me as a writer.
     I am also interested in promoting boys as readers. This is an issue dear to my heart and an underlying force in my writing. As a father and former sports coach to high school aged boys, I’ve had a unique experience which helps me relate to this youth perspective. It also drives me to provide stories for this audience. With the young men I coached, we often had discussions about what books they were currently reading and dish out trash talk to the boys who refused to read for fun. 
     Maybe writing for Tweens wasn’t in the original plan for me as a writer. Fortunately, I eventually saw the light, listened to the voices in my head tell their stories, and realized this genre was a great fit for me. Thanks for stopping by and happy writing.

If interested in watching my first self-produced book trailer, click this title link for the THE YOUNGER DAYS book trailer.

 Mike Hays is a husband, a father of three, a lifelong Kansan and works as a molecular microbiologist. His middle grade historical fiction book, THE YOUNGER DAYS, is signed for a February 2012 release from MuseItUp Publishing. Besides writing, he has been strength and conditioning coach, a football coach and a baseball coach. He is a member of the Catholic Writer's Guild, has published three football coaching articles, co-authored several scientific papers and is the co-inventor of two US patents.

7 comments:

Mindy Hardwick said...

I love the "fits like a glove" image! It does seem that our writing voices fall naturally into a genre, and it's great to discover that voice!

Charlie said...

Hey Mike. I also really didn't set out to write for tweens. But I love the age, and like you, it seems to fit like a glove. What an incredible group of people to write for. :) Wishing you all the best for your upcoming book birthday! Whoo Hoo. I'll be there to help you celebrate.
C.K. Volnek

Pat McDermott said...

Glad you listened to those inner voices, Mike. Congrats on your upcoming release. Do you think that having kids in the house helps keep your point-of-view young?

Marva Dasef said...

Well said. I'm glad you're trying to draw boys to reading. I have one book out in a boy's POV set during the 30's. I'd hope that boys might enjoy reading it.

My latest tween fantasy certainly features a boy protag, even if he's #2 to his big sister. But he's the one who saves her butt over and over. Maybe that will qualify for boys' fiction. At least, I can try to push the concept.

Mike Hays said...

Mindy - Sometimes it takes us a while to listen to that voice. Thank you.

Charlie - It really is an underrated age group, somewhat obnoxious at times but always energy in motion. Thanks for the well wishes for book release. Getting nervous.

Pat - I don't listen very often, but I'm glad I did on this front. Oh, yeah being around kids at home and abroad keeps me in a good outlook on life.

Marva - Finding a way to get boys to transition from grade school readers through middle school to high school readers seems to be the trick for developing lifelong readers. It's up to us to provide the material to help them do it.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Sounds like you made the right decision in your writing career. Tweens are a great age to write for. Best of luck with your book.

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