When I was a teen, I wanted to write adult fiction. In my mid-twenties, I realized I was all about YA. Just before I turned 30, I started my first middle grade.
So in my sixties I fully expect to be rich off my stellar touch-and-feel board books.
Why the reversal? What's the difference between young adult and middle grade anyway? Well, that's a post for another day. But I can tell you what made me go back to junior high if you're considering doing the same.
My first (forever trunked) novel was young adult, with the main characters at the nice, neat age of sixteen. I was working on a second when another, separate character introduced herself in my head. She didn't belong in that WIP, and I didn't quite get her. She was younger and goofier and more awkward than the characters I'd been writing about. Also, she liked to blog, and my WIP was set in 1912.
|I wished my characters weren't arthritic.|
Then I read Savvy. Now, I could never choose a "favoritest book ever," or even "best book of 2009." Too many. But I can tell you this: I read a lot of books last year that made me say "I love this."
Savvy made me say, "I wish I'd written this."
Two very different things. I couldn't stop thinking about the voice, the innocence, the insecurities and the butterfly-dancing romance that came along with this story of a thirteen year old girl figuring out her own powers. I loved it. I wanted to write a middle grade. And the aforementioned ignored character knocked on my brain and went "He-llo?!"
And that was it. I named her Ruth, wrote the first scene and let her ramble without even plotting. Ruth's story came along eventually.
I think it's like finding "your" genre. Plenty of authors can write well in several genres, but for a lot of us there's one that feels particularly right. I remember hearing Carrie Ryan say she'd written tons of chick lit before realizing she's a bit better at darker, more horrifying, brain-nomming things. I adore YA, and may very well attempt to write another in the future. But writing middle grade is like slipping into my old, worn-out flip flops.
For now. But if you see Grammy MiSchu's Made of Awesome Finger Puppet Board Book in 4D on the shelves in forty years, you'll know the Benjamin Button curse continued.
And please, pick up a copy. Your grandkids will love it.