Monday, April 1, 2013

Living In Exclamation Points

One of the great things about writing novels for young adults is that you get to be a teen again, at least inside your head.  Often it feels like a mental do-over.  I fully admit to feeling my heart racing like a hurricane whenever I craft a scene involving a first kiss, a bully, heartbreak, bad decisions. 

That's because teens experience life in exclamation points.  They make impulsive decisions.  They can act and speak irrationally.  They love and hate fiercely.  And they should--they're teens!  It's in teen DNA!

At least that's how I remembered it.  Everything, no matter how minuscule, was magnified by a power of ten during the teens (and for some of us, full confession, perhaps even into our twenties).  And my poor parents, raising four teen daughters at the same time.  Gah! The emotion bubbling inside our house could have been measured on the Richter scale. Yet, what I'd give to go back and live just one teen day all over again, even one of my bad teen days. 

I kind of have to chuckle whenever I hear people, usually adults, lift their noses and say, "There's too much drama in that book" after dismissing a young adult novel, even a middle-grade novel, and I want to say, "Hello? Were you ever a teenager?  Have you raised a teen?!  Been inside the house where teens live?! For the love of god, have you ever listened to a group of teens chatting at a Starbucks?!! THERE IS NOTHING BUT DRAMA!"

Sorry. I'll calm down.  My teen-self is showing.

To me, that's the beauty of children's fiction, both young adult and middle-grade.  The emotion and adrenaline are key.  If it's not oozing off of every page, the story loses me and doesn't ring real.

Liz Fichera likes to write stories about ordinary teens who do extraordinary things.  Her debut contemporary young adult novel HOOKED released in January 2013 from HarlequinTEEN.  Its companion, PLAYED, releases in 2014.  To connect with Liz, please visit

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