Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Am I a dinosaur?

Sometimes when I read other writers' works (Esp Middle Grade fiction), I see a consistent trend: lots of action (especially with a boy as a protagonist), lots of action, and lots of action. One thing just moves to another to another as if any type of reflection, interaction, connection to another character or sympathetic reaction from the protagonist would make any boy reader throw up his hands and say, "That's it! I'm not reading again!" as he turns on a video game. 

I believe in connection: to our world, to each other, to ourselves when we are alone with our own thoughts and questions. I strive to put that into my novels as well. I think boy readers can relate. I believe boy readers do enjoy those subtler moments in a novel. I can't believe a boy reader would be so easily bored. 

Today, movies reflect this non-stop, dizzying edited roller coaster experience more and more in films made for ages 9-13. Do books have to match this 'insanity'? 

Am I a dinosaur? 

I remember the opening of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", a book not written for kids, but seems to be all the rage in the retelling of it. Take a look at the first paragraph: 

In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town.  This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days.  Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic.  Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world.  A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquility.

Did you even finish the passage? :) But, c'mon, what a terrific opening! What a great way to establish setting, especially with words like, 'spacious coves', 'inveterate propensity' and of course, my favorite, 'one of the quietest places in the whole world'. 

Still sends chills up my arms when I read this. 
How many people would plow through this today? I don't know. I would. But I love words. 

I remember when I was at a bookstore this past summer, and a boy around 10 years old bought IN THE NICK OF TIME, my first book in my time travel trilogy for that genre. He returned two days later with his dad to buy Book #2 THE TIME OF HIS LIFE and Book #3 ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. He was happy I was still there to autograph the novels, but I believe he returned for a better, more long lasting reason: the relationship he had with the book, the characters, the plot, the adventures where all of it came together to reflect, in perhaps some small way, his own life. 

Thank you young reader! 

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