Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Musician, Reader, Critic, Teenager

On the way home from my younger son's clarinet lesson, I had an interesting conversation with him about several of my novels.  He was re-reading "House of Many Doors" (I had converted to an epub so he could have it on his ipod touch) and reminding me how much he loved this story.

In some ways, it's the story he's grown up with.  I started writing it when he was in middle school and he (and his older brother) both helped me brainstorm the story in addition to being its first readers.  In "On Writing," Stephen King talks about writing for your ideal reader.  When it comes to my YA titles, my two teens are it.  As much as I write for myself and to be honest to the story, I also write for them. 

So in the car, he told me he really liked the fact that having a haunted house be one of the characters felt completely natural.  That there was never a time in the story where he questioned why the house is what it is or does what it does.

He also said, in comparing "House" with "Future Tense," that "House" was much more of a psychological story, where "Future Tense" is an action story.  In addition, he thought that Parker (from "House") had more of a support network from the very start than Matt did ("Future Tense") and that while Parker only has to fight the haunted house, Matt has to deal with his whole world coming down on him. 

It gave me an 'aha' moment.

Parker needs to be more imperiled in "House." More has to be difficult for him.  He has to doubt himself more and struggle more.  Matt has that in spades, right from the start and it gives the story more stakes. (A word my son also used in talking about this.)

My kiddo may only be 14, but he is a thoughtful and careful reader as well as quite the critic.

How cool is that?!


  1. Really cool! I wish I can establish that kind of relationship with my kids once they become teens. I hear a lot of parents complaining about how difficult it is to deal with their teens. But reading your blog inspires me knowing that it is possible for parents and teens to have a peaceful and loving relationship, despite the hormones. Thank you!

  2. Thank you, Leanne! I feel very blessed to have the kind of relationship with my teens that I have. So much of our family dynamic was laid down during their younger years, with many strange and wonderful conversations over family dinners. I remember being terrified of the teen years when they were toddlers-- now I don't know why I ever worried.

    The hardest part I've found with the teen years is learning to stand back as they deal with social struggles and trusting in them enough to let them make mistakes.

    It goes so quickly! My eldest heads to college in the
    Fall. Enjoy your little ones!