March 20, 2014
I write books for young adults—and old ones, too—and my newest, The Palace, has just come into print.
Most parents want their children to read. What the market calls Young Adult fiction is pitched particularly to teenagers, who are a little old for Dr. Seuss and a little young for Serious Mainstream Literature in Which Nothing Much Happens. I’m too young for that stuff, too.
So the publishing industry invented the YA category, the American Library Association and the public schools got involved with it—and what have we got today?
Let Meghan Cox Gurdon, Children’s Book Reviewer for The Wall Street Journal, answer.
In a speech at Hillsdale College last year, Ms. Gurdon spoke of “the increasingly dark current that runs through books classified as YA, for Young Adult—books aimed at readers between 12 and 18 years of age—a subset that has, in the four decades since Young Adult became a distinct category in fiction, become increasingly lurid, grotesque, profane, sexual, and ugly. Books show us the world, and in that sense, too many books for adolescents act like funhouse mirrors, reflecting hideously distorted portrayals of life…”
You wouldn’t believe how much heat she takes for saying so. That’s because she’s telling the truth. Compared to most of what’s out there for teens, “Harry Potter,” occultism and all, looks like “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”
I know it’s not supposed to be good marketing strategy to diss the competition. But what goes into kids’ minds and feeds their imaginations is serious business. It’s part of my job to reach as much of this YA literature as I can stand, and there’s stuff in there that’d make a vulture retch. Every kind of social and psychological pathology you can think of—and some you probably wouldn’t think of—along with witchcraft, atheism, paganism, violence, drugs, all of it involving teenage characters: that’s what’s on the YA menu.
No wonder Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are still in print.
Which brings me to The Palace, No. 6 in my Bell Mountain series—stories of fantasy and adventure built on a strictly Biblical foundation. To help me launch it, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association has scheduled me as a guest on his internet TV show, Monday, March 24, at 11:15 a.m. Eastern Time. You can watch on your computer, at www.afa.net.
You can read all about the whole Bell Mountain series by visiting my blog, and clicking “Books” for cover art, blurbs, and sample chapters. You can even order them from there. The Palace isn’t available yet as an e-book, but it will be, soon. All the others are in both paperback and e-book formats.
These stories are set in an imaginary world that follows its own unique arc of history. They’re about individual persons, and an entire nation, that have lost their connection to God, and what God does about it. Meanwhile there are heroic quests, battles, duels, miracles, political intrigue and treachery, fantastic animals, exotic settings, plenty of villainy and plenty of redemption—in short, I allow everything the Bible allows, and nothing that it doesn’t. So if you’re looking for detailed descriptions of young people engaged in lewd or violent acts, or wielding magic and super-powers conferred on them by pagan deities or a school for sorcerers, these are not the books for you.
Why do I write these fantasies? Because fantasy allows you to approach truth from a new direction. Fantasy is like poetry; it touches regions of the heart not easily accessible to other kinds of fiction.
And, let’s face it, fantasy is fun! Or should be. I can’t understand those over-many YA fantasies in which the teen characters spend half their time fatzing around in high school. Really, you’re limited only by the breadth and depth of your imagination—and your characters have nothing better to do than sit there ogling one another in algebra class?
The teens in my stories don’t do magic, don’t have super-powers, and are too busy surviving dangerous and serious adventures to have time to waste on the usual YA debauchery.
Unfortunately, I can’t do magic, either. In order for these books to accomplish their mission, people have to read them: youngsters first, but a lot of older folks have enjoyed them every bit as much.
And if anyone out there happens to know Meghan Cox Gurdon, please show her this column.
� 2014 Lee Duigon - All Rights Reserved
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on www.amazon.com
E-Mail: [email protected]