Daily Archives: September 15, 2009

Tweens + Twilight, or, Stop the Insanity

I  just finished reading Rebecca Stead’s wonderful article on tweens in Time Out New York (thanks to educating alice for the link). This was thought-provoking and sobering reading. It would be wonderful if all parents could read it and consider what they can do to protect their child’s childhood. Reading this article was good timing for me, since I’ve been thinking these past few days about this very subject, of kids behaving as “wannabe adolescents,” years before entering their teens. This year I teach 9-year-olds. There is a child in one of my classes who has read all of the books in the Twilight series and is in the process of rereading them (yes, all the way through book four with the wild sex / monster parasitic vampire fetus / abortion debate etc. etc…).

When I was 9, these were my favourite books:


I know I grew up in the country, but still. Call me crazy, but I think 9 is childhood. 9 is still firmly in kid-territory. 9 is not tween or pre-teen or even close-to-teen. 9 is not the time for sparkly vampires and their abs-of-steel and frosty kisses. Is it not possible to save something for later, even if the movie is coming out next month and the TV is telling you that all the cool kids are going? Must the answer always be yes, you can if you want to?

At this rate, pretty soon there will be kindergarteners who can say they’re in Team Edward or Team Jacob.

I think this is so, so sad. I think of my 8/9/10 year old self and I remember these years as a golden time, before I started thinking about how I measured up, how pretty I was or how popular, or whether boys thought I was worth anything. I loved the quote in Stead’s article from Susan Linn, ““Traditionally these years are a time of great intellectual and creative flowering.”

What are we doing? Is it too late?


Class of 2k9 Author Interview: Megan Crewe


I‘m very happy to be hosting fellow Torontonian Megan Crewe today for an interview. Megan is the author of the YA paranormal novel Give Up the Ghost (check out my review). She’s also a Class of 2k9 member. Weclome Megan!

What inspires you?

Um, everything? 🙂 Honestly, inspiration can come from anything—a conversation I overhear on the bus, a book I’m reading or a movie I just saw, an article in a newspaper or online, something I see out the window. But I find I’m most inspired by other stories, in all their forms.

Tell us about the moment you learned Give Up the Ghost would be published.

It wasn’t really one single moment—even the moment we got the first offer was drawn out because an editor told my agent he was going to offer a couple weeks before the offer actually came. And even once you have an offer you can’t assume anything until it’s negotiated and official! But that time period was filled with a lot of celebrating and many excited conversations with my husband and family and close friends, and waiting eagerly to be able to share the news more widely.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your first novel?

The most challenging part of writing Give Up the Ghost was the voice. It was the first novel I’d written in first person. I knew that telling it in Cass’s voice was the right thing to do, but it was difficult finding a balance between staying true to her personality and the way she perceived herself, and still revealing the vulnerabilities that made her sympathetic (even if she liked to pretend they didn’t exist).

Describe your writing process. Are you an outliner, or do you discover your characters and your story as you go?

I’m definitely an outliner. I never write a book without a scene-by-scene outline on index cards. It’s my way of “testing out” the book to make sure it’s ready to be written—because if I get stuck or bored just writing the outline, then the story idea’s not ready yet. But while I’m writing I’m still discovering all sorts of things about the characters and events that I didn’t think of while I was outlining, and I often make changes to the outline as I go to reflect important things I’ve figured out.

What books have you read that made you want to write for young people?

It wasn’t specific books I read so much as the experience of being a teenager. Books were so important to me at that age (not that they aren’t now, but the intensity isn’t quite the same), as a way to visit other worlds, to understand different perspectives, to consider new ideas, to figure out who I was. I love writing for readers who get so much out of books.

What is your favourite scene in Give Up the Ghost?

I can’t say too much about it because it’d be spoilery, but I’d have to say my favorite is the scene near the end when Cass finds Tim by the lake. It’s such an important moment for both of them.

Why do you think it’s so hard for Cass to “give up her ghosts”?

I think for Cass the ghosts (both literal and figurative) are her protection. As long as she believes her ghostly friends are all she needs, she doesn’t have to feel bad that her classmates shun her. As long as she focuses on what happened in the past, she doesn’t have to think about her problems in the present. The trouble is, of course, that she’s shutting herself off from a lot of good things, too. Continue reading