I love young adult literature, and YA writers, and YA readers, and I’m very comfortable being tagged with the YA label. I mean, you’re gonna get tagged anyway, right? So why not YA?
Still, at times I feel restless, and I wonder what the other ninety-nine percent is up to. I peek out the doorway of the YA Room. I hear laughter. I creep down the hallway to the next room. I look inside to find a room very much like the YA Room, but with less angst and acne. The Middle Grade Room!
This looks like fun, I think— and then I remember that I’ve been here before, when I wrote the Bloodwater Mysteries almost ten years ago, with co-author Mary Logue. It was fun! We got to make juvenile jokes that teens would roll their eyes at, and hang out with characters who weren’t pretending to be all grown up and stuff. But I wasn’t alone that time. Mary was holding my hand. This time, I am on my own.
“Hello!” I cry happily as I enter the Middle Grade Room. “Can I play?”
There is grumbling. “We don’t need your stinky hormonal angst,” someone remarks.
“I left my angst and my Axe body spray in the YA room,” I say. “But I brought robots. And scatology. And a talking dog!”
The grumbling subsides, and after a moment someone asks, “What kind of dog?”
“A basset hound!”
“Is it a nice basset hound? With big floppy ears?”
“Yes!” I exclaim excitedly.
There is a silence, then a voice says, “Will you be bringing your own adverbs?”
“Yes!” I affirm doggedly.
“And your Tom Swifties?” another appends quickly.
“Without question!” I ejaculate indubitably.
“You realize this is Middle Grade Literature, don’t you?”
“It is?” I look out over the faces of the Middle Grade authors, who are sitting in a circle on the floor, scowling at me—I may have interrupted a game of spin the bottle—and for a moment I experience a moment of dubitability. Then I hear a faint giggle, followed by a chorus of armpit farts, and I smile and think, This is where I want to be.
The Flinkwater Factor, my first solo act as a Middle-Grade author, will be coming out in the fall of 2015. And, yes, there will be robots, and a talking basset hound.