Today I’m being interviewed by Lisa Ard, author of Fright Flight, on her blog, Adventures in Writing and Publishing.
Meanwhile, Elle Strauss, author of Clockwise and It’s a Little Haywire, is here to tell you all about writing books for boys.
Most people in the business of selling young adult and middle grade books will tell you it’s a girl’s reading world out there. For every “boy” book, there’s umpteen girl books on the shelf.
I’m not sure why this is. Are girls just more avid readers? Or, are books just more likely to be written in a fashion that appeals to girls, ie: female protagonists and romantic themes?
I don’t have the answer to this. Perhaps a male author does have a better chance of connecting with male readers, and we see this with the success of books like The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan. But then, how do you explain J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter? At the beginning kids may have perceived her to be male (why she went with J.K and not Joanna), but the reality was she was female writing male. And after the first book, NOBODY cared.
The YA series ( I believe to be)most widely read currently by both genders is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and interestingly, the main character is female, not male.
So, there’s no real set rule about writing for boys or books with boy protagonists that I can determine.
Despite successes of these examples, the odds are still against books written with a male protagonist doing well in the marketplace, (though alternating male and female seems to work as long as the primary POV is female. Ie: the Shiver Series by Maggie Stiefvater.)
This begs the question: should we bother writing books from a boy’s POV?
My answer is yes. And not because it will sell, because, it might not. Some stories are just HIS story. I know Lisa’s book, Running Wide Open is Cody’s story. It wouldn’t make sense to make the protag female just to sell the story.
I have a YA historical coming out this summer called Playing with Matches about a boy who grows up in Hitler youth. Though I’m more comfortable writing from a female POV, this book is about a boy. If I wanted to tell the story right, I had to get it from his point of view.
What about It’s a Little Haywire? Some could argue that the main character could’ve been female. It’s been compared in tone to Because of Winn Dixie. And I suppose, from a marketing perspective, it might be a bigger seller if I had.
But it wasn’t her story. It was his. In my heart I couldn’t change it just because it might have a wider appeal. And you know what? I don’t think it matters that much in the end who the story is about, as long as it’s a good story.
IT’S A LITTLE HAYWIRE: Owen True is eleven and eleven twelfths and has been “exiled” to the small crazy town of Hayward, WA, aka, Haywire, while his mother is on her honeymoon. All he has to whittle away the time is the company of Gramps, his black lab Daisy, and his Haywire friends, Mason and Mikala Sweet. They don’t look so hot this year, in fact, the whole town has gone to pot since the mill shut down.
Owen has his first encounter with a real life homeless man who ends up needing Owen’s help in more ways than one. But how does a rich city kid help the small town’s suffering citizens?
And what is Owen to make of the fog train and its scary, otherworldy occupants that appears out of thin air on the old tracks behind Gramps’ house? Do they have the answer Owen is looking for?
It’s a Little Haywire is normally $2.99 on Amazon, but you can get it FREE on February 22nd and 23rd.
ELLE STRAUSS writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She’s a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She’s fond of Lindt’s sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. Her Young Adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE and contemporary/otherworldly Middle Grade IT’S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon.