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?