I am delighted to welcome Gareth P Jones to Bookbabblers today. We will be reviewing Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders later today.
Writing for Children and Adults
Recently, someone asked me, “What kind of books do you write?”
I was about to reply, “I write books for children,” when I realised that this is the short answer.
The long answer is that children’s books are never written exclusively for children.
A variety of grownups read my books before it even comes out. These people include my wife, members of my family, my editors (and others who work in the publishing house), the illustrator and so on. All these grownups have their input at various stages in the writing process, and try to ensure that the final book is vastly better than the first draft.
Once the book is out in the world, there are even more grownup readers. Some read them for fun; some because it is their job. The lucky ones read them for both those reasons. Some advise children which books to read – and which to steer clear of. These grownups include librarians, bloggers, book reviewers and buyers for bookshops. They all have their opinions, of course, positive, negative, constructive and descriptive and some are even kind enough to share these opinions with the rest of the world.
Then there are the grownups who read my books out loud. These are the parents, teachers, teaching assistants and voice actors who record the audiobooks. For this reason, I try to read my book out loud at too.
So, with all these grownups reading my books, the question is, should I ignore them, pretending they are not there and write exclusively for children?
Personally, I like to acknowledge my grownup readers by occasionally throwing some jokes their way. For example, in The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates there is a mechanical parrot. He’s annoying, repetitive and mostly just offers obvious observations on what’s going on. He’s called Twitter. I hope that he’s a funny character whether or not you know or care about a website with the same name.
Another example is in the third book in the series, Clash of the Rival Robots:
“Good evening,” said the messenger, “My name is Ralf and I will be your messenger this evening. Please hold.”
He picked up the lute and started to play. The duke and admiral looked at one another in confusion.
“Hold what?” snapped the Duke.
Ralf stopped playing, pulled out an envelope from his pocket and handed it to the duke. “Please hold this. It’s the message.”
I am not expecting every reader of the book to have experienced annoying hold music but I don’t actually think that matters. I remember laughing at lots of things I didn’t totally understand including The Young Ones, Blackadder and Monty Python’s Flying Circus). These were TV shows written by grownups for grownups but enjoyed by children and I suppose, in answer to the question I kicked off with, “I write books mostly read by children but sometimes read by grownups too.”