News | 2008 | Pushing the Boundaries

I met author Diane Tullson today (Blue Highway, The Darwin Expedition, Edge, Red Sea, Saving Jasey, and Zero), and she had some interesting things to say about young adult fiction; things I hadn't quite considered from her perspective before. Currently, I'm writing a YA novel and have been worried that maybe I've been going too far: my fifteen-year-old protagonist smokes and drinks and swears and has sex and lies and gets body parts pierced and skips school and does all sorts of reprehensible things. In short, she does the sort of things real fifteen-year-olds do (not all, of course, but some). At least the sort of things I remember happening around me when I was fifteen. But, like I said, I've been worrying I've been going too far and writing things that aren't acceptable for a teen audience. What Diane had to say was this: young adult fiction is a perfect place to push at the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Kids should be exposed to these ideas. The beauty of experiencing them through YA fiction is that readers get exposed to these topics and ideas in a safe place (a novel). If you read about a character smoking and drinking and swearing and doing other sorts of reprehensible things, you can explore these things safely without actually doing them. An interesting idea. I'm sure people who believe YA fiction should be didactic might not agree, but I do believe it's a concept worth exploring. Enough so that I think my novel will keep those scandalous bits in them. Unless, of course, I can think of something else that serves the story better.

Blue Highway by Diane Tullson

The Darwin Expedition by Diane Tullson

Edge by Diane Tullson

Red Sea by Diane Tullson

Saving Jasey by Diane Tullson

Zero by Diane Tullson

Related to this, one of Diane's books--Saving Jasey--really stuck with me, mainly because it pushes at those boundaries. This book is one of the tensest novels I've ever read. The home life of her main character--a boy named Gavin--is so awful (but completely credible) that I clenched fists everytime the character went home. I certainly can't imagine anyone wanting to emulate the poor guy, but if you must put a didactic spin on it, the story sure enables readers to get a good understanding of what some other people might be going through.

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