Friday, 28 June 2013

Shattered Blog Tour: Guest Post with Kathi Baron

Hello, Therians!
Today, Kathi Baron, debut author of Shattered, stops by to tell us why she writes for young adults :)
Be sure to stop by tomorrow when I'll be reviewing Shattered!!

Shattered is about Cassie Prochazka, a violinist in the Chicago Youth Symphony. About what happens the day after her debut as a soloist when her dad breaks her violin. She's enraged and runs away. She meets a number of helpful and not-so-helpful strangers. Eventually, her violin teacher talks her into returning home, where she unravels a terrible secret within her family. A painful violin secret. Within the secret is also her sense of power, which she uses to open up new possibilities for healing the homeless, her family, and herself.  

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Why I Write for Young Adults
Kathi Baron

There’s usually a pause when I tell someone that I write young adult novels and short stories. I expect something to follow after the pause and usually what does is a comment like, “Interesting.” No one ever follows with: Why do you write young adult stories? Why not adult stories since you’re an adult?

I often wonder if when people pause that they’re making some assumptions about me. Like She doesn’t want to grow up, so she’s staying a teenager by writing about them. Or, That’s just weird. She’s weird. Or it could be this, She’s not good enough to be a real writer, so she writes for kids. Maybe it’s all of the above, although the pause isn’t long enough to come up with all of these thoughts. So that’s not it.

Or maybe the pause is the other person’s opportunity to reflect on that writing about and for young adults is, simply put, interesting.

I agree. Writing about and for young adults is interesting.

I got into writing for this age group after working as an occupational therapist in adolescent psychiatric units for 15 years. The work was challenging and demanding at times, but mostly, I loved our conversations.

When I began writing my first young adult novel, what got my attention was remembering my own coming of age. There was a vulnerability there that was soft and beautiful. There were all those emotions that were intense because they were firsts: first love, first hurt, first loss, the feeling of dancing with a boy for the first time.

So many people say that being a teenager was so painful that they would never return to that time period of their lives, ever again. Not so for me. If given the chance, I’d definitely go back. I’d go to be in the company of my classmates in Orrville, Ohio. There were 187 kids in my 1974 graduating class. We had amazing chemistry and we had the rare opportunity to experience the truest form of friendship.

Back then, we laughed a lot. We cried together. We got into trouble and got through difficult times together. In fact, we were more focused on each other than on academics. I’m sure this annoyed our teachers on a daily basis. But we were busy raising each other and we were enthralled with the idea of being friends. To this day, we are still very close. As a class, we give a scholarship to a senior at our high school every year based on the idea of friendship, not academics, and the recipient must be nominated by a classmate.

So yes, maybe I do write about teens because it is a way to re-live my adolescent years. That period of my life certainly taught me to respect teenagers. But also, the teen brain is fascinating because it is developing the capacity to make complex decisions, to support identity, and to begin to understand what’s right and to take a stand for what’s right.

As a result, writing about a character with a teen brain is a natural playground for writers. Like most people, teens can take different actions in a situation, but because they’re inexperienced and aren’t future-oriented, their choices sometimes make for surprising and quirky scenarios. Add to that the feelings of being in a situation for the very first time and this brings complexity of emotion to a story. Throw in a relationship between two or more teens, and you’ve got story wealth.

For many of the same reasons that I write in this genre I’m also caught up in reading young adult literature. It’s a myth, too, that young adult books aren’t as good as books written for adults. I would argue that some of the best writing is found in young adult literature. Since young adult books are not as long as adult books, this challenges the writer to find fewer words to convey the story and to land on the just-right word. Less pages often makes a plot even tighter, too, than it might be if more pages were allowed.

As you might guess, I don’t believe that it’s weird to be an adult writing for young adults. However, I’m sure there are people who could attest to my weirdness. In fact, I’d be proud to give you some names because they are my beloved friends I made when I was a teen. The opportunity to write in this genre has given my life a certain quirky, surprise quality. It often demands that I remember snippets of my adolescence. My young adult book, Shattered has brought invitations to go to schools and libraries to talk with teens. These are all good things. 



 "The family drama will grab readers, but just as enthralling is the story of a young person devoted to her music, note by note."                                                            --Booklist

"Baron successfully uses musical metaphors in the structure of the novel--short chapters with staccato action and slower cadences reflective of the family's struggle to work their way through this situation...a moving story..."                                                               --School Library Journal
"...a compelling read." --Kirkus

"This is a novel about picking up pieces, told in a voice that is both poetic and compelling. Kathi Baron's Shattered has perfect pitch."
   --Kathi Appelt, author
of The Underneath, a Newbery Honor Book and National Book Award Finalist

"It takes a special kind of author to create an emotional jouney that opens our hearts. Kathi Baron is that kind of storyteller and Shattered is that kind of book." 
   --Louise Hawes, author of The Vanishing Point and Waiting for Christopher, both New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age, and Rosey in the Present Tense, a YALSA Popular Paperback

"Readers will cheer Cassie's journey as she runs away from a shattered home to a brief experience with homelessness and back again. Kathi Baron soars in this debut novel full of creative inspiration, healing and hope.  --Lynn Hazen, author of Shifty, a Smithsonian Notable Book & Voice of Youth Advocates "Top Shelf Fiction"

"Shattered is a sonata in words, a deeply lyrical journey, ringing with overtones." 
   --Tim Wynne-Jones, Horn Book and Edgar Award winning author of Blink and Caution and The Uninvited


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7-12-13 to 7-14-13--Vermont College of Fine Arts Alumni Mini-Residency--Montpelier, VT

9-28-13--Zion Benton Library--Teen Writing Workshop--Zion, IL


June 10
Book Spotlight at Much Loved Books

June 11
Guest Post and Book Spotlight at Moonlight Gleam

June 12
Interview and Review at A Diary of a Book Addict

June 13
Book Spotlight at Unputdownable Books 

June 14
Feature and Guest Post at Delphina Reads Too Much

June 15
Review at Hopeless Bibliophile 

June 16
Book Spotlight at Every Free Chance Reading 

June 17
Interview and Giveaway at Word Spelunking

June 18
Book Spotlight at My Fiction Nook 

June 22
Review at Stuck Between the Pages

June 25
Guest Post at Now is Gone

June 27
Review at The Kari Annalysis 

June 28 & 29
Guest Post and Review at Therian

June 30
Review and Interview at J Bronder Book Review 


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