Saturday, October 23, 2010

Growing Up...

When I was growing up, we didn’t have the huge selection of Young Adult books that kids have today. Sure, we had our Nancy Drew and some Babysitter’s Club, but neither of those really captured my interest. So, instead, I pretty much went from reading Charlotte’s Web (or pretty much anything by E.B. White) and The Boxcar Children, to reading the books my mom had lying around the house. Fortunately for me, she was into these really great ghost stories by John Saul (remember Punish the Sinners, Suffer the Children, and When the Wind Blows?), and even scarier books by Stephen King (who didn’t read Carrie, The Shining, or Salem’s Lot???).

Basically, I was indoctrinated into horror by the time I was twelve, which is what I like to call "great parenting"! But, oh my god, I LOVED IT!!!

So it was no surprise that my first attempt at writing was a full-on adult horror novel, called ONE OF THEM. There was some hardcore gore and death and steamy sex in it. (Again, thanks a lot, mom!) Unfortunately the story was ridiculously convoluted and the writing was so-so (at best). Meaning, ONE OF THEM made really great practice.

It wasn’t until years (and many revisions and submissions) later, when a friend of mine introduced me to the burgeoning world of YA. She was screening books for her teen daughter and she would pass them along to me saying, “Trust me, you are going to love this!”

And of course she was right…I did love them! And I also decided it was time for me to give up on that poor, beaten-to-death horror novel I’d written so many years earlier. ONE OF THEM was officially retired.

When I decided to write a new book, I didn’t actually set out to write YA, it just kind of happened that my main character was a teen and that my backdrop was high school. And pretty soon I realized that I was writing exactly the kind of book that I wished I’d had when I was a teen. Creepy and suspenseful and romantic!

I’ve always been a very eclectic reader, but I’ll never forget those lazy summer days when I first made that leap from children’s to grown-up books (and those same summer nights when I checked—and double-checked—my windows to make sure they were locked!).

I’m curious about what books were your first adult reads. How old were you? Did you like ‘em sweet or scary? Mysteries or romances??? And was it all your mom’s fault?

21 comments:

judit said...

Stephen King's Firestarter and Carrie was among the firsts and theres a hungarian writer Vavyan Fable and I just love her books; and yes it was my Mothers fault cause she left them around the house :) She has action and romance and fantasy and romance books; they're tend to be sarcastic and may have some 18 and up content but they're hilarious and you can not put them down :)

Barbara E. said...

I think I was about 14 and I found Ian Fleming's 007/James Bond books. I felt a little thrill of guilty pleasure over the naughty bits because I knew my mother wouldn't approve, but I enjoyed them all the same.

Heather said...

I don't really remember when I made the leap from kid books to adult books, but I do remember that it was cause of my best friends mom. My mom never got much of a chance to read, but my friends mom read all of the time.

Crystal ♥ said...

Mine were historical romances. Jo Goodman's Captain's Lady, I think was the first. And I was 15-16, use to try to hide them around my room but my mom new what was doing. LoL
And nope, not my mom's fault. I'm the only one in the fam with my nose always stuck in a book.

Katie Dalton said...

The first book was Margaret Atwood-The handmaids Tale. :) Kind of a weird pick for a first adult read but thats me weird and random.
Now I love paranormal romance and can't get enough!

Helen Lowe said...

I read Pride & Prejudice at around 9-10 and loved it--I can still remember laughing out loud over Mr Collins's proposal to Lizzie Bennett. But I think my first truly "adult" read was at around 12-13 when I read Grace Metallius's Peyton Place--and decided (as only 12-13 can) that the adult world must be a really weird space. At the same time, the skill of Metallius's writing (I still remember the description of the town and the indian summer at the beginning) and the emotional power of the story have really stuck with me.

Casey H said...

I think I was 9 or 10 when I read my first romance novel (The Last Bachelor by Ketina Krahn) and I've been addicted ever since. It was my Grandma's book and every other romance book I read after that I had to hide from my mother not only because I was too young, but because she hates romance novels (she thinks that they're trash).

Patricia Lynne said...

I think my first adult books were Ann Rice's books. I remember reading tale of the body thief in high school, then there was another book that was based on Jeffery Dahmer in the main character wanted to make a zombie sex slave... what was it called??? I want to find it now (if anyone knows I will lurve you forever!) Then there was a Danielle Steele book (great jump of genres there lol) but mostly I was hooked on Anne Rice for adult books. (although, now I've gone back to YA and read a lot of those. trying to recapture childhood anyone?)

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hmm... first? I'm guessing Little Women. I had that book and carried it around with me until I could read it. So, yea... it's my mom's fault. Both parents really. Both encouraged me to read whatever I wanted.

Michele said...

I read the same books. I loved John Saul. As an adult now though I find that I read a lot of YA.

Tracey O'Hara said...

My first Grownup book was Wilbur Smith when I was 11. I immedatley fell in love with Africa and wanted to go there. Great post Kim.

Terri Garey said...

Great post, Kim. My mom had a set of Readers Digest Condensed Books, (four "classic" novels condensed into one thick volume), and I devoured them all at a very early age. I thought it was all about the classics until, when I was fourteen, she handed me my first romance.

So, yes, it was ALL my mom's fault, bless her!!

And Tracey, I LOVE Wilbur Smith!

Jolene Allcock and Family said...

I grew up reading The Babysitters club/The boxcar children/R.L. Stein. Once I hit middleschool I got into V.C. Andrews and started in on Dean Koontz and Stephen King. My first forray into romance was Danielle Steele's Summer's end, The Thorn Birds and Bridges of Madison County. I think I was a freshman when I started reading those

Becky LeJeune said...

I went from RL Stine and Christopher Pike to King and Koontz. My mom held out as long as she could on King, but I snagged a copy of Salems Lot and Firestarter while cleaning my grandmother's office (she wouldn't lay claim to them!) and basically told my mom it was time to hand over Pet Semetary.

Nicole Murphy said...

I believe mine was Lord of the Rings, at 11. I could well have been reading adult books before then - I had finished my mum's old teenage books and done Trixie Belden to DEATH! My father had an extensive book collection (almost exclusively SF and fantasy) and I may have read some others, but LOTR is the one I remember. Recommended to me by my younger brother :)

Great post, Kimberly!

Ashley G said...

I read my first adult book at 12 and it was Pet Semetary by Stephen King. Needless to say, I was hooked and he's still my favorite writer :)

delitealex said...

Romances were my first adult reads at about 11 or 12 years old. I've always been a reader since I was first able to read. My mother would check out stacks of romance books from the library so I read one and was hooked. There is definitely more variety in YA now.

Sable Grace said...

I remember reading The Shining over the summer, with a flash light, while hiding in the closet. I was ten, and it had been a present for my brother and I was told I couldn't read it because it was too scary. Which meant, of course, that I had to read it. I would wait until everyone went to bed and hide to read, then put it right back where my brother had left it before anyone got up. Scared the living daylights out of me! It wasn't until years later that I learned that the reason the book was always in the same spot that summer was that it had scared my big brother so much it took him years before he would go back and read it. To this day, I've never reread this book, wanting to always remember the fear that had lived in me that summer.

Cylver said...

I don't remember there being much of a YA market when I was in my teens, so I pretty much went from reading Harriet the Spy and The Chronicles of Narnia to Anne Rice and Stephen King. What a leap! Thanks to The Shining, it was years before I could go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without thinking of THAT scene. My mom gave me some of her Victoria Holt books to read, and while they were a nice change of pace, they weren't really my cup of tea, and it wasn't long before I was back to devouring my faves!

Sharon S. said...

I was 12 and it was Salem's Lot! After that I read anything Stephen King or King like. I didn't read my first romance until a couple of years ago . Now I have sooooo much catching up to do.

Claire Dawn said...

I was into Babysitter's Club, so i read that for quite a while. First adult read that impressed me was Omar Tyree's FLYY GIRL, black urban women's fiction. I think I was around 15.

When I'm not reading YA, I read chick lit, so I guess it stuck.