If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of June!

June 6 Maggie Toussaint, Confound It

June 13 Nicole J. Burton, Swimming Up the Sun

June 20 Julie Mulhern, Shadow Dancing

June 27 Abby L. Vandiver, Debut author, Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies

Our June Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 6/2--Joanne Guidoccio, 6/9 Julie Mulhern, 6/16--Margaret S. Hamilton, 6/23--Kait Carson, and 6/30--Edith Maxwell.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Interview with L D Harkrader

Today’s interview is with the talented and prolific author, Lisa Harkrader, who writes as L.D. Harkrader. Her Young Adult novel, Airball: My Life in Briefs won the William Allen White Award for 2008, the Washington Sasquatch Award, designation as a Kansas Notable Book and many other awards.

WB: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

LDH: I have loved books from the moment I could hold one in my hand. In about the third grade, it dawned on me that somebody had to write all those books I loved, and I decided that one day, one of those somebodies would be me.
I grew up and went to college and earned a degree in art (my other big love) and began working. But I never lost sight of my dream. In the early 1990s, I began seriously pursuing a career in children’s writing. Since then I’ve written fiction, nonfiction, hundreds of short stories and poems, an education picture book, and even three ghostwritten books in the Animorphs science fiction series.

WB: How many books have you written for children and young adults?

I’m finishing up revisions on The Adventures of Beanboy, a middle-grade novel about a boy who is trying to fix his family through comic books (and I get to draw his sketches and comic book panels throughout the story, which is the first time I’ve been able to combine my two loves, writing and art). It comes out Fall 2011 and will be my 19th book.

WB: What makes YA literature YA? Is it the age of the protagonist? For example is To Kill a Mocking Bird a YA novel?

LDH: Here are the basics:

• Young adult novels are written for readers from age 12 to about 16 (older readers have often jumped to adult books)
• The characters are usually 14 to 19
• Length varies, but usually falls within 40,000 to 60,000 words

Beyond that, voice, tone, and theme make young adult literature young adult. Richard Peck has said that the last page of every YA novel should not say “The End,” but “The Beginning.” I think that sums up YA perfectly. All YAs—whether they’re about trying out for football, finding out you rule a small European country, or falling in love with vampires—are really about a character trying to find his or her place in the world.
And YA is always told from the perspective of a character who hasn’t yet found that place. I’ve heard people say that if To Kill a Mockingbird were published today, it would be published as a young adult novel. It’s true that every teenager in America reads TKAM in 9th grade English and many, including reluctant readers, end up loving it. (I love it, too—it’s one of my favorite books.) But it isn’t YA. The main character, Scout, goes from age 6 to age 9 in the course of the novel, which is technically too young for a YA protagonist. But more importantly, the story is told from an adult perspective, from Scout as an adult looking back on what happened to her as a child. She has already gone through the experience, and the story is filtered through the wisdom she gained.

WB: That helps a lot, so what is Middle Grade fiction?

LDH: Ah, middle grade. It’s the golden age of reading. It’s a time when kids can read independently but haven’t yet discovered the distractions of driving, dating, and trying to become an adult. It’s the time when many kids fall in love with books. It’s also a time when they have an enormous number of wonderful reading choices awaiting them. I know I’m showing a bit of bias, but middle-grade novels are some of the best-written, best-edited, most creative novels being published. They encompass all genres, and subject matter is nearly unlimited, from survival adventure tales to funny school stories to crazy inventions, spies, and interplanetary travel.

Middle grade is basically for ages 8 to 12. Older middle grade, which is what I tend to write, is for readers 9 to 14. (Although a lot of adults read middle grade fiction, too, and love it.) The protagonist is about the same age or slightly older than readers. Word count can vary widely, but usually falls between 25,000 and 40,000 words.

My novel Airball: My Life in Briefs clocked in at just about 43,000 words. The Adventures of Beanboy is sitting about about 37,000 right now, and I’m trying to trim a bit more since it includes illustrations every few pages. The main characters of both books are thirteen year olds in the seventh grade.
My novel Nocturne is an older middle grade/younger YA fantasy. The main character, Flan, is fifteen, and the novel is a bit longer—52,000 words.

WB: I’ve noticed that in your books you combine humor, surprises and complete respect for your readers, whatever their ages. Does that contribute to your success?

LDH: Thank you. What reader doesn’t want respect? That’s especially true for kids, who are tired of being talked down to and can spot condescension in a book immediately. I think the one quality a writer needs in order to write for children or young adults is a small piece of themselves that hasn’t completely grown up. I joke that on the outside I may look like a 40-something-year-old woman. But on the inside I’m still twelve. (And sometimes I’m a twelve-year-old boy, which came as a surprise.) But it’s not really a joke. Part of me really is twelve. That’s the part that still thinks underwear jokes are funny.

And who doesn’t like humor? My favorite books are funny novels with heart, books that make you laugh but still have something to say. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great example. It has a lot to say about racism and assumptions and the way people treat each other. But it’s also very funny at times. I don’t pretend to come close to TKAM, but that’s what I try to do in my books: tackle something I think is important, such as finding your own true superpowers, through humor.

WB: Thank you. Do you have any advice for someone interested in writing for younger audiences?

LDH: For anyone interested in writing for children or young adults, here are some helpful websites:

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators www.scbwi.org
The Institute of Children’s Literature’s Writer Rx http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/
The Purple Crayon www.underdown.org


E. B. Davis said...

The YA book category has grown so much, it would be a good genre to write. YA didn't exist when I grew up. We read the classics (Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Twain, etc.) which were great books, but often hard to identify with as a kid. The closest books to YA category were Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Laura Wilder's "Little House" books, and The Boxcar series. The YA category opens up enjoyment reading to kids, which will attract them to reading rather than video games and TV, both of which are a waste of time.

Kaye George said...

I'd like Lisa's take on another blog I recently read (at http://hannahmosk.blogspot.com/2010/09/mg-vs-ya.html). She says that, in MG you get to save the world, in YA you don't. YA is more about personal relations. Are these themes so restricted to ages? Or do you see them that way also?

L.D. Harkrader said...

In general terms, I think in MG, the main character is trying to make sense of the world, while in YA the MC is trying to find his/her place in it. Which doesn't mean there isn't overlap. And other themes are wrapped up in there, too. Now that you've got me thinking about his, it's clear that my novel NOCTURNE, a YA, is very much about the MC finding her place in the world. . . but also about saving the little piece of the world as she knows it. The MC in BEANBOY (MG I'm finishing up revisions on now) is definitely trying to save his own world, but also is thinking about how his future self might fit into the larger world. There's no hard and fast, but I do think most YA is, at heart, about a character trying to find her place in the world (which is a pretty true reflection of what most teenagers are trying to do).

L.D. Harkrader said...

P.S. Some YA novels I love, just off the top of my head, are DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Murdock, RATS SAW GOD by Rob Thomas, and STORKY by Debbi Garfinkle, and yep, even though they're about a girl coaching an opposing team's QB, a boy who's stung by the unfaithfulness of his first love, and a boy dealing with his parent's divorce and mother's new boyfriend, at heart, the MCs are all trying to find their place in the world.

Kaye George said...

You make perfect sense, Lisa. Thanks for the reply.

Warren Bull said...

Sorry about the font problems. Lisa, you answered questions nobody has.

Pauline Alldred said...

I can see why middle grade books would appeal to adults. That's the age when a person tries to make sense of the world or his/her world, if I understand you correctly? I love fantasy worlds created for kids. A reader can lose herself in the fantasy world and yet see parallels to the day to day world.

I suspect I don't read many YA books because I see that time as painful rather than fun.

Thank you for your comments. They'll help me pick out books for my younger relatives.