A Perfect Agreement

I’ve been interviewing a lot of Young Adult authors lately, and have again and again found myself discussing the author’s relationship to the age group for which they write. It was Gary Schmidt who first brought this relationship to my attention. He was of the opinion that if one is going to write for people who are not adults, one ought to be uniquely interested in that age group, be they preschoolers, early readers, middle schoolers, or teenagers. Gary Schmidt, for instance, believes eleven and twelve year-olds are the most interesting people in the world. As he puts it, it is in their “turning toward adulthood” that he finds so much narrative potential. The same is true of Annie Barrows, who will be featured in our next issue. Annie loves seven year-olds. Her exact words, actually, were, “I love them. I love them, so I want to write books for them.”

What a perfect place from which to begin a story, in fact, what a perfect place from which to begin anything. I happen to love writers. Part of what I love about writers is that Gary Schmidt and Annie Barrows so adore these two very discretely aged persons. To hear each talk about their respective readerships is to know why there will never be such a thing as a perfect story, for what is perfect for the seven year-old could not be perfect for the twelve year-old.

Plus, I love when people tell me what they love. Why do I find this almost as moving as if these writers, these near-strangers, have just told me that they love me? There are times when there is hardly a difference at all. It is as if upon uttering that word you invite her into the room, and once she is there, she is there for everyone, for that is her cause and her calling. I feel just then as if life is constant agreement with itself, and we, these two strangers, can do nothing but nod at one another and say, “Yes. I know precisely what you mean.”

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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