My friend Rebecca Emin has just released her second novel, When Dreams Come True! Here’s the blurb:
Charlie is happiest when biking with Max and Toby, or watching films with Allie. But when Charlie reaches year nine (age 13), everything begins to change.
As her friends develop new interests, Charlie’s dreams become more frequent and vivid, and a family crisis tears her away from her friends.
How will Charlie react when old family secrets are revealed? Will her life change completely when some of her dreams start to come true?
Middle Grade and YA Books
Full disclosure: I haven’t yet read When Dreams Come True. (Still finishing Blue Murder, to send it off for editing very soon.) But I want to give a shout-out to authors like Rebecca Emin who write for older children and young adults. These authors have to work within very specific constraints. They need to deliver a story their target audience will enjoy, and relate to, without including “adult” elements that many of us writers take for granted. For me, I write across different genres, and while I don’t confront hot button issues in my cozy mysteries or my fantasy adventures, I have the absolute freedom to go there if I wish. I can include graphic violence, bad language, love scenes, etc. I’d like to think that when I choose to add these elements, they enhance the story I am trying to tell, but still, these inclusions can often be considered “selling points.” Good MG and YA authors must attract and hold their readers without falling back on any of those things. And quite often, I think their work is superior to so-called “adult” and even literary fiction.
“It Has To Actually Be About Something”
Once I was discussing the old mystery/suspense show Alfred Hitchcock Presents with a friend. I said I was impressed that the stories not only held up well after 40-50 years, but in some cases were vastly more entertaining than similar offerings today. I asked, “Are we just getting stupider?”
She said, “No, but since broadcasting standards have relaxed, a lot of writers and producers have gotten lazy. A crime show today can be one-third blood and guts, one-third salacious back story, and only one-third characterization or theme. In those days, the show had to actually be about something.”
I think my friend had a point. Today, TV writers can always throw in a weird internet urban legend or a deliberately “controversial” kiss/hook-up/murder to keep the viewer watching. When Alfred Hitchcock Presents aired, not even a married couple could be seen in the same bed (unless one of them had at least one foot on the floor) and the culprit always, always had to be caught and punished. (This is why occasionally after the “gotcha” ending, Hitch would appear and say something like, “Incidentally, our murderous friend was soon caught and locked up for life, proving the crime always costs more than it pays.”)
It’s much the same with MG and YA fiction. The story must stand on its own. Re-read the list of Newberry Award Winners over the years and remember how those books touched you. Probably few of the “adult” fiction books you’ve read had the same effect.
When Dreams Come True
Check out the book and author at the following links. And congratulations, Rebecca!
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/When-Dreams-Come-True-Rebecca-Emin/9781471092046
Rebecca Emin Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaEminPage
Twitter account: www.twitter.com/RebeccaEmin