I write nice clean stories. There is no gratuitous violence, no swearing and no (gasp!) sex. My stories are directed at young readers aged about 8 to 12 years. My characters are ordinary kids. They have no special powers. They are not dealing with any fantasy creatures or beings. All they have to work with is their powers of observation, wits and innate curiosity.
Now, I guess it is old-fashioned of me to be determined to keep my stories clean. There are several people who keep saying to me that the kids of today don’t want to read about ordinary kids, that they want to read about mystic fantastic realms where demons, witches and warlocks rule and that, if I want to be successful as an author, I will need to write about those things.
I have no problem with the authors who write in the fantasy genre. I enjoyed the Harry Potter stories too but I read them as an adult not as a child. However, I do believe in the ordinary kid who can struggle with a difficult situation and find a way through it without benefit of a magic wand.
When I was a kid, about a hundred years ago, I wanted to be one of the Famous Five or Nancy Drew’s offsider. I wanted to have adventures and to have to solve mysteries. I did like the story to be puzzling and exciting, but I didn’t want to have the socks scared off me. It makes me wonder if today’s kids are really so much different.
I have written before about the downturn in imagination in today’s children. It is something that really worries me. It worries me that children can’t think of anything to play unless they have equipment of some sort. It worries me that they can’t come up with any ideas when they are asked to write a story….no matter how much scaffolding is provided for them. It worries me that they don’t know how to build a cubby house using cardboard boxes and tree branches. It worries me that they have little in the way of risk assessment skills. I think children need to be able to do all these things if they are to grow into adults who can cope with the everyday world.
We rarely have to face a wand-wielding wizard but we often have to solve problems using whatever wits we have been given.
So I will continue to write nice, clean stories about ordinary kids in the fond hope that there are parents out there who want their children to be inquisitive, observant and adventurous too.