Why I Write Awesome

In elementary school, I was positive that the invitation to Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters was in the mail or that a radioactive spider was lurking close by. I had to have special powers or be destined to save humanity. The world didn’t make any sense otherwise.

Then my voice started to crack, and I still hadn’t discovered I was related to a Norse god. Even as I shaved off those initial upper lip hairs, I knew there were wizards hiding out there and I was one of them. Unfortunately, by the time my feet grew four sizes in as many months, I started to suspect Superman was as much of a fabrication as Santa or Uncle Sam. Despite hanging on to the innocence for longer than most people consider healthy, by (late) middle school, my delusions for the world had petered.

In high school and college, I applied science and engineering to the spaces once reserved for fighting imaginary archenemies. Though, in my spare time (remember that?), I gravitated to books, movies, and shows that let me be magic again for a blink or two. The problem was that I just looked through those characters’ eyes…they were the heroes, not me.

Then, one day, I was on a drive with my *someday* wife and a single sentence popped in my head out of nowhere. Over the next several years, it grew into a “novel.” What was it about, you ask? A 13-year-old who discovered he had powers and was destined to save the world (careful, I’ll sue if you steal my original concept). Sure, it was awful, but it opened up the world of writing to me. I found, no matter how sucky the sentences were or how off the pacing was, I was the superhero, finally.

I was hooked. Big time.

Now that I’m serious about writing (whatever that means), I’m magic or superhuman every day. I invent my own powers and hatch evil plans. My life is filled with secret identities and fights and surprising twists.

So why do I write for Middle Grade? Because, evidently, that’s what the industry calls these types of books.

Frankly, I just call them awesome.


Um, Bret, I'm not sure if angling your face toward the heavens with swimming goggles, wet hair and a drying towel perfectly situated to appear as part of your not-quite-there cape qualifies as being a superhero :-) But I can't wait to read your novel where your one sentence spurred the "novel" into fruition for you. I bet you wrote a fantastic tale of heroics, one where you, yes you, were the hero and not just looking through the eyes of the hero anymore.

Ha! I love this post.

And spare time...we're both going to be hurting for that over the next few months. But at least we'll be cuddling our own little Bundles of Awesome!

Jay Asher of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY had a session at the Cuesta Writers Conference a few years back titled "Why a YA?" I never thought about it before that, except, I guess, to say, "Why not?" You're right; it is awesome.

Yes! This comes closer than anything else I've read to my own feelings about why I write books for 8-12s (we don't have middle grade in Scotland, we just count the years...) I write adventures where heroines and heroes defeat baddies because I was always poised to fight baddies, my whole childhood, and the opportunity never arose. Then I grew up and realised that I could invent all the adventures which I wished had happened, and actually get paid for it (not much, but then as a child I'd have saved the world for nothing.) Great blog, I'll be back to see what you do next! (And if you want to see what I do, do visit me at http://laridon.co.uk )

Angela, a boy can always dream that his goggles make him a superhero!

Beth, I KNOW...we're both getting sooo close! (Though I hope you keep the little guy in there long enough that I can meet ya this next weekend).

Ryan, I'm just jealous you got to hear Jay Asher speak. I've seen him at conferences and HE is awesome.

Lari, Thanks! I'll definitely check out your site.

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