Dianne Gardner wrote our guest post for today. She explores the reasons why teenagers are interested in these subjects and how they search for the answers...
I write for children. Not young ones. I write for adolescents that are transitioning from youthful innocence into adulthood- that turbulent stage of life when their questions are almost too disturbing to answer.
When I was 13, I read far beyond my years. Shakespeare intrigued me. I could relate to the deep inner struggles of a suffering Hamlet. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet pulled at my heartstrings, and Macbeth terrified me, beckoning me to question my own existence. I read dark and stormy stories like The Last of the Mohicans, The Scarlet Letter,The Count of Monte Cristo, Don Juan, and Edgar Allen Poe. Why?
That same question is asked by many parents when they contemplate their own children reading series like The Hunger Games and Zombie invasions.
Why are dark disturbing stories attracting youngsters?
My only response is that our young people are looking for answers to the human condition.
Young teenagers are stepping into a world that for them is no longer a My Favorite Pony and Princess Bride bubble. They sense a dark side to existence. A side they see their parents struggle in. Children grow into awareness that they’ve been alienated from the darker side of truth. They not only want to know what life is about, they have a deep inner need to know what they will be tackling in the near future.
Our society would like our young people to think that getting a good education and a good job should be their primary concern. Of course those initiatives are appropriate. Parents should encourage their children to pursue success.
But there’s more to life to ponder. There’s another appetite to feed. At an early age, children question relationships with one another and with their parents. They contemplate world peace or why there are world wars, they struggle with love and hate, they decide their own morality or immorality, and most importantly they meditate on life and death.
My books are adventure fantasy-stories about make believe worlds. The characters are very human and face the same issues we do. Their struggles are believable. The most important aspect of these novels is that they offer hope because from what I’ve experienced, that’s what these teenagers need.
Teens need to be assured that they’re going to face darkness. Negative things will happen in their lives, if not already. We as adults can’t lie to them because children can’t sense it, and they reject lies.
Teens know they face an unknown future. Alone. It isn’t news to them.
What I believe is important in writing for this age group is to give them hope, regardless of what struggles life throws at them. They need to know there’s a lantern burning, that there is light at the end of the tunnel to use a cliché we’re all familiar with, because it’s that light that keeps us moving forward.
Dianne Lynn Gardner
Dianne Gardner is both an award winning author and illustrator living in the Pacific Northwest. She’s an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the National League of American Pen Women. She has written Young Adult Fantasy novels as well as articles for national magazines and newspapers. Her series The Ian’s Realm Saga includes three novels and four short stories with more on the way and published by Hydra Publications, a small press out of Indiana.
You can see Dianne’s titles and artwork at http://gardnersart.wix.com/dlgardnersbooks
She blogs about her own work in progress, research adventures, contests, and interviews with other authors at http://dragontargeseries.blogspot.com/