Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Presenting Me, The YA Novelist.

by Risa Green



Finally, I have written a third book. Well, technically, it’s a fourth book, because I wrote a third book before this third book, but that third book kind of sucked and so I threw it away. Although, if you want to get really technical, this third book is a actually a fourth and a half book, because before I wrote the first third book, I also wrote half of a really depressing, dark book, which I decided was too depressing and dark too even finish, so I threw that one away, too. But since those don’t really count, I’ll just say that this new book is my third and leave it at that.


Anyway, the third book. I sold it. It will be published in August of 2010, which seems really far away right now, but still, I sold it, which is more than I can say for those other two books, about which I will speak never again. But the thing about this book is that it’s not like my first two books. (The first two that I published, not the first two that I threw away. It’s getting kind of confusing, huh?) My first two books were so-called “mommy lit,” meaning that they were about, well, mommy stuff, like pregnancy and babies, and hating your husband because he’s a man and gets to go to work, while you stay home with a screaming monster that makes your nipples feel like they’re being pushed through a meat grinder. But, you know, those books have kind of been done. I mean, does the world really need another mommy book? I think that it does not. And also, I think that the market is saturated, and that it’s really hard to even find a publisher who’s interested in mommy books anymore.


And so, when I sat down to write a third book, I decided to write something different. You know, break out of that soon-to-be-history mommy genre before it’s too late. But all I ended up with was half of a too dark and depressing novel, plus another, completed, novel that just wasn’t all that interesting. And so for the third try, I decided to take a different tack, and I wrote [gasp] a Young Adult novel.


At first, I was concerned. I thought maybe I was selling out a little, maybe I was giving up, maybe I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. But once I started writing, I totally came around. Because the truth is, writing this book was the most fun I have had in a long time. Instead of writing about women who are stuck in bad marriages, or who are tied down by kids they didn’t want, or who are being emotionally abused by all of the men in their lives, I got to write about fun stuff, like a first kiss, a mad crush, and girls hanging out together at the mall. For three whole months, I got to channel my inner teenager. I mean, honestly, what is not fun about that?

The only problem though, is that my inner teenager is still stuck in 1987. Which is kind of a problem when you’re writing for kids who weren’t born until 1995. A problem because, as a writer, this means that a) I am old, and b) none of my jokes are funny to my audience. For example, I had a great one about how a guy with a faux hawk was like the love child of a rooster and Pat Benatar, but then I realized that there are not a lot of fifteen year-olds who would get the reference. Ditto for Alf, Silver Spoons, and Mork and Mindy. So, I spent a good part of every day doing “research” on web sites like Teen People, the Superficial, and Gurl.com, trying to figure out which celebrities, bands and television shows might actually be referenced by a tenth-grade girl. Also, I learned to speak in text. Originally, I had a scene where my characters were passing notes in homeroom, but then I realized that I might as well have had them listening to cassette tapes. Really, could you even imagine? Teenagers in 2009 communicating via pencil and paper? Please. In re-writing, I came across a great website called www.transl8it.com [1] that helps you turn normal words into text-ese. It’s kind of like an English to Spanish dictionary; you type in what you want to say, and the site will translate it for you into a text message. Which was extremely helpful. I mean, did you know that the word fat in text is actually f@? Because I did not.


Writing this book definitely gave me some perspective, though. For one thing, I realized that if I were ever single again, I would definitely not want to date a much younger guy. Because really, no matter how good the sex might be, how much fun could you possibly have with a person who has never seen The Brady Bunch, or who doesn’t know the theme song to Gilligan’s Island? It would be exhausting just trying to fill the pop-culture gap. And second, it made me realize that for me, I think it doesn’t really matter who I’m writing for. Moms, teenagers…whatever. I’m writing, and I’m having fun doing it, and isn’t that the whole point?


And so, I have reinvented myself yet again. I’ve been an attorney, a college counselor, a mommy blogger/writer, and now, presenting…me, the YA Novelist. Feel free to recommend me to the teenaged girls in your life.

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