Writing about and for teens? What’s the deal anyway?

This summer marks the fifth year since I conceived the idea of Flour City Blues. I had many ideas before, but they just did not stick or make it past a first typed page. As the idea grew and expanded, more and more I knew that this was the story I was going to write.

Why young adult fiction? Or to narrow it down, why a novel about teenagers….aren’t you an adult?

Well, of course, but I also lived my teen years, and I have a fondness for the age group as there are many changes going on emotionally, physically and mentally. It seems that with the brink of adulthood on the horizon, there is a great social quality to the teenager…intense, strong friendships and relationships. This is different from any college or work scenario, because we face thirteen years together with most of the same people. We see these people through the good and bad choices they make which affects our choices and personalities as we prepare for the next step of college, employment or the service.

Now, I have grown up with the great “teen” shows of my day, and have now seen the evolution of teenage culture advance from my heyday. Technology, bullying, young parenthood are an increased happening today that test the emotional strength of the teenager. When writing my book, I wanted to stay away from that. It takes place in the present day, but wanted to keep the rebel-rousing teenage hijinks in there that I see missing today. Gone are the video games, online chats and social networking. Here, are the garage band practices, weekend parties, and hanging out. In retrospect, this was my teenage years, just ending shy of a decade ago. There was something amazing-the feeling you got when knowing there was a good show over the weekend in someone’s basement or all-ages afternoon show at a club. Once A dreaded Monday rolled around, there was a memory of a great weekend that would help you cruise into the next. I lived for live music, and this took place as a regular occurrence during my junior and senior years, and continued through college.

Now, my writing also would not have happened if it were not for the sparkly-filled pages of Francesca Lia Block’s novels. I fell in love with Weetzie Bat. Dreamed that I wish I could have her wardrobe, but wore my boots, dark jeans, kooky hair accessories and black hoodies like the thick-blooded East Coaster I am. Weetzie went to gigs, caroused the streets of LA and found love in a Secret Agent Lover Man. I snarled, scowled, drank St Ides Special Brew out of a paper bag at house gigs and haunted the dark city streets of Rochester. Block’s characters felt love and pain in a way that I wanted to pull into my writing. She happens to do it in such a magical way. I used her books as models, helping me find a voice, which I discovered is actually snarky, full of scarcasm, wit and littered with popular culture references.

🙂

-L

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