On Tuesday March 9th, I’m going to be interviewed on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) Radio by Shelagh Rogers. Yesterday a gentleman called me up for a kind of pre-interview and he asked me this question: “Why YA?”

He was referring to Wanting Mor, my novel that is based on a true story and set in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

He’s the second person who has asked me that question about that book.

At first I misunderstood the question, thinking young adult as opposed to younger middle grade students. Middle grade students (grades four to six) are the ‘best’ target audience in that they read more voraciously than any other group. My books always seem to be either too young for them, or a little bit too old.

I started saying that I thought ten year olds would have no problem reading Wanting Mor because it doesn’t contain any explicitly sexual references in it but I thought older students would really get the nuances of what I was trying to say.

Then he clarified. He had read it, and loved it, and asked me why it was designated for young adult and not simply for adults.

It’s a very good question.

And I’m not sure of the answer.

The fact is I’m a children’s author. I write ‘children’s’ books.

I’ve had lots of people ask me when I was going to ‘grow up’ and write adult books, but a writer writes what they have to write. I never think of audience when I sit down to write a book. I only ever think of the story that needs to be told.

A book that appeals to both children/youth and adults is called a crossover book and there are only two examples I can think of: the Harry Potter and Twilight series of books.

Frankly, when I was writing Wanting Mor I wasn’t even thinking about if it would ever get published.

I wrote it with abandon. I wanted to find out what would happen to this poor girl.

When it was done, I automatically assumed it was a teen novel. That’s what I write.

I’ve read many articles that warn people who are setting out to write children’s books that if they think children’s books are any *easier* than adult books, they should think again.

I kind of disagree with this statement. They can be easier only because they are shorter. And they’re easier if you’re suited to writing them.

Children’s books involve the same scale of emotions as any other type of books, only the story is filtered through the sensibilities of a child. As an adult writer, you have to limit your character’s understanding and perspective to what a child would think or say under the circumstances. The emotional strain is underneath the dialogue and the action, and often all the more intense for being portrayed in an understated,  muted manner.

It actually requires a very mature character to accomplish this.

Because in doing so,  you have to understand what the adult perspective is, as well as what the child has been exposed to.

As a result many children’s authors are more than happy to remain within children’s publishing because it provides more than enough challenges and stimulation for their craft.

I guess I’m taking a roundabout way of saying I never thought I could write an adult book. I don’t read a lot of adult books. I used to, but I’ve kind of stopped.

I guess you could consider all the classics adult books. I got into some Catherine Cookson, Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, Georgette Heyer, Daphne Du Maurier. With the exception of Daphney Du Maurier’s work, I found that after a while all those other authors’ main characters were exactly the same.

They’d essentially stuck the same person in different circumstances.

I read some fantasy including Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series and quite enjoyed them but when he resurrected Lord Foul after he’d so thoroughly killed him in the third of the what was supposed to be a trilogy, I felt cheated.

So many adult books cheat. Agatha Christie did with so many of her mysteries. She’d leave out a crucial clue so the reader couldn’t possibly have figured out whodunnit!

And so many adult books seem to ramble, the authors go off on tangents to satisfy, I don’t know, their own intellectual egos, I guess.

And don’t get me started on the The Life of Pi.

There have been other adult books I read that left me feeling totally disgusted. Even tainted. One of them was called Through a Glass Darkly,  I can’t remember what nitwit wrote it, but it was horrible. Or more diplomatically, I should say it was ‘not my cup of tea’.

Shortly after that I gave up on adult books and stuck to the children’s section.

I still don’t know what to make of the idea that people want me to consider Wanting Mor  an adult book.

It doesn’t contain any smut, or language. Of course I know not all adult books do, but it’s kind of the first thing you think of when you think that something is ‘adult’.

It’s interesting though. I’ve been flirting with writing a sequel.

I had the most peculiar feeling of homesickness when I finished Wanting Mor. I didn’t want to leave Jameela, and I actually feel that the story is not quite finished.

The sequel will definitely be adult because it would deal with her getting married. So maybe, if Wanting Mor is considered adult too, it won’t be such a ‘bad’ thing. *g*