Today, I posted a piece at The Night Bazaar about writing my young adult zombie novella “Deepwater Miracle”:
I discovered something fascinating to me as I got myself into the mindframe of a young adult protagonist, viewed through the lens of a young adult story. I managed to infuse my tale with pieces of moral ambiguity, but I knew that, at core, it all had to boil down to an essentially coherent worldview. I felt like I couldn’t leave the reader with bitterness or an eerie sense of injustice…somehow, I had to show up in the closing paragraph with some flavor of hope.
I don’t know if it’s strange or wonderful — or possibly both — that I was helped in this endeavor by reading a number of books written by young people who, when they were younger, were forced to live through experiences that far outstrip the nightmares I could ever come up with.
When I wrote “Deepwater Miracle,” I had just finished reading War Child by Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal and A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Child Soldier by Sierra Leone’s Ishmael Beah. I would think that neither of these books should possibly be recommended reading for young people, but then again, didn’t we all used to read The Diary of Anne Frank?
In any event, what I took away from these two books — both first-person autobiographies of child soldiers — was a sense that, however awful the experiences a teen goes through, they see it through a teen’s eyes. This, I think, is one of the reasons that witnessing violence early in life is so deeply affecting to kids; later, after the threat of violence has (hopefully) receded, their context for growing up is forever altered.
Read the rest of this post at The Night Bazaar.