Writing for teens
I’ve never seriously considered writing for teens, though my daughter has asked me often, if I would consider it. So it comes as a bit of a revelation to me – not for the first time, I realise – that young adults, teens from all over the world enjoy reading my memoir, Trapped. In exploring my life as it was, I never set out to consciously write a book for young adults, though my prose style tries to avoid over-sophistication. (Even as I write that, I worry: my daughter asked me recently if I swallowed a dictionary…do I still use three long words, where one short one would do?)
Last year, I was delighted to hear of a class of seventh graders, twelve year olds in the USA, who were set Trapped as a reading text by their class teacher. And recently, Sam Keane sent me a review, which I have included as a recent blog post.
I have always assumed that Trapped, being about a depressed, angry and sexually frustrated woman who only wants to be happy – to be allowed to be herself – would place it firmly in the ‘adult’ category. So how do I feel, knowing that youngsters read about my sexual frustration?
It may be that teachers, using the text as a study tool for young adults, delicately sensor the text; or more probably, since I was at school, there has been a revolution in attitudes around sexual experience. My daughter, I know, benefits from a full and candid exploration of attitude to sex at school, which contrasts markedly with the tiptoeing and cringeworthy explorations that we endured in late primary education in the late 1970s, and which left us with more questions than answers.
Perhaps my attitudes are well out of date, and what I consider cringeworthy and embarrassing is merely part of life, these days. It could just be that young adults are less phased, that they listen, decide and make up their own minds more readily about what they experience. If that is so, then I am pleased, and I applaud the sophistication of young people. They, so much more than my generation, tell the truth and expect to hear it, so are unlikely to be phased by a few truthful, passing references to the sexual experiences of one woman who, if she’d had her way, would have loved to find more ways of enjoying love.