Why I Write YA
I say that I am not embarrassed about my stories, but I must be because every time I begin to tell someone about one of my novels it's only a matter of time before I feel the need to confess that there's sex in them. I'm not even Catholic.
Do you know what I want? (No, not that, I'm not a teenage boy after all.) I want someone to come up to that eleven-year-old girl. To point her in the direction of A Wrinkle in Time and its companion novels. To say, “You'll love these stories about this wizard.” Maybe even to encourage some Dickens or L.M. Montgomery. And when she is headed to high school at thirteen, I want that someone to come back. To show her Flipped and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice books, that will grow her into fourteen and the crush that will be her first boyfriend. I want those books to echo what her mother always told her about sex. That we're all curious, that it belongs in a caring, committed relationship because that will make it beautiful. That waiting is good but the world won't end if she doesn't.
And when she is sixteen and has already been kissed and this might-be-love feels right and not right at the same time, I want someone to show her my books. To let her take on those feelings through someone else, to make the waiting maybe not so hard. To ease the tension as she wonders all those years if love will keep. (It will.)
Most of all, I want her to realize that no one feels at home in the teen section. We can skirt around it or avoid it. Hang out in it, revisit it, or even sit in the corner with our backs pressed to the wall. Beyond those shelves, the adult section awaits and those silver stairs are ready to take us whenever and wherever we want to go.