Thursday
Apr192018

It Was a Fast Read

I can't count the number of times that particular comment has been made about my books. 

At first I took it as a 'sweep-me-under-the-carpet' kind of remark, but I don't anymore. I'm not saying that's not how the comments were/are intended. I'm merely noting that I now view the observations as a compliment instead of a brush-off--even if that is not the intention of those making the remark.

As a teacher for many years, when I became a writer of books for young people, I had a pretty good idea what it took to keep kids reading beyond the first paragraph, and part of my goal in writing. was to keep them reading. I was also fully aware of what unmotivated kids needed if they were to be coaxed into picking up a book. So I kept those things in mind as I put words to paper.

Therefore, in 2002, when Orca Book Publishers created the Soundings series of hi-lo books for reluctant readers between 14 and 18 years of age, I clambored to get on board. This was a bandwagon I could buy into. To that end, I added The Hemingway Tradition (one of my personal all-time favourite books), The Trouble with Liberty, and Zee's Way to the Soundings imprint

Following that, Orca offered the Currents series aimed at slightly younger reluctant readers, and for the next few years, that's where my Orca offerings landed. (Chat Room, Cheat, Caching In, Cabin Girl, Alibi, and most recently, Winter Road).

In addition to those books, I was writing others aimed at main stream readers, but interestingly enough, those books were also swept aside as 'easy reads', because accomplished readers could breeze through them too.

So while other authors were raking in the accolades and awards for their efforts, I was sitting on the sidelines watching. I thought I was writing good stuff, but clearly the powers that be didn't share my opinion.

So, I had to step back and try to objectively assess my efforts. Had I achieved my goal of reaching and holding readers? Yes. 

And then it dawned on me -- that was part of the problem. I had made my books so easy to read, that people brushed them aside as fluff.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "Easy reading is damn hard writing." 

It's true. 

I spend a lot of time working at making the words flow and making the ideas flow, so that the story reads easy and the pages turn themselves -- for all readers, not just the reluctant ones.

My bad.

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