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Do YA Authors Have A Responsibility To Their Audience?

weneedA couple of days ago a friend of mine read my book that I am currently querying to agents. She said a lot of things about it, but there were a couple of things that really stuck with me, and I want to talk about them a little here. She mentioned that she thinks YA Authors need to remember their younger audience, and should be careful when they have their main characters do things that are potentially dangerous without having them suffer consequences.

I’m not sure how I feel about this right now, so I thought I’d write through a blog post and see what my opinion was at the end of this.

These are the big three she brought up:

  • Underage Drinking–Okay I get where she’s coming from. There’s a scene in my book where the high school students end up at a big party, and other than a moment where a boy gets caught in a compromising position with a chick who isn’t his girlfriend, there aren’t any real consequences. No one gets in trouble with their parents, no one goes to jail, there are no MIP’s distributed by cops or even so much as a stern warning. So, is this wrong? Am I promoting teenage drinking, or am I just telling it like it is? Well, I don’t know, exactly.
  • Texting While Driving–Okay, so she is concerned that my character sends a text while driving down the road and doesn’t get in a wreck, get pulled over, have any problems. I have to be honest… this never even dawned on me when I wrote it. I didn’t even THINK about the fact that it was a bad thing. I just wrote her sending a quick text and driving down the road. Now, when I really get to thinking about this, I think she’s right that I shouldn’t be promoting such a behavior, BUT–am I doing that by having my super villain main character do it? I don’t think so.
  • Bad Words in Front of Parents–This surprised me the most. I had parents that didn’t really give a rat’s patootie about what I said once I got old enough to think and make decisions on my own. That was just how it always was with me. So, I completely think that’s totally okay. Different strokes for different folks on this one, but I would like to know how other people’s parents react to that sort of thing.

Okay, I’ve been thinking about it over the course of this blog post, and I’m not so sure it’s my place to teach these kids appropriate behavior. That’s their parents job. I write stories, and in the end they’re considered FICTION for a reason. I don’t think kids will go out and drink beer or text while driving based on my book. That’s all there is to that. I think there are a lot of things a book ca do, and I am sure there are books that will do a great job of teaching things like ‘no sex before marriage’ and all that other good stuff… but I don’t think my supervillain series is the place for that to happen.

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