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View Full Version : I'm the dark about a dark children's book



Virector
05-08-2008, 07:36 AM
I just wanted to know- I'm writing a book which I would like to get published as children's fantasy. It has great characters and has a great plot, but without giving too much away, the problem is that it dwells HEAVILY on 'death theories' of mine and people 'meddling' with dark things... it has a lot of really dark themes-- it's not horrific or anything, just... 'dark'. My question, though, is do you suppose a book with a lot of 'deathly' things would pass as a book for children aged 10-15? I mean, hey, Potter was pretty dark too, with all the Horcruxes and all that, but I'd just like to hear from you: Is a book which is HEAVILY about death and all that appropriate for the age group I mentioned? Thank you.

kct webber
05-08-2008, 02:56 PM
I would have loved it as a kid. Dark stuff has been my kind of territory since I could read. I'm afraid I can't give you much from the business POV, but as a reader, I would have eaten it up at even younger than that.

Death? COOL!

eveningstar
05-08-2008, 05:56 PM
Someone who knows more about children's/YA (I don't write it, but I read it) could probably give you a better answer, but I don't think you'd have a problem. I just read a YA that was all about death, actually. And it was a romance.

I'd suggest reading in that genre and picking up books to check out back cover copy in the YA section of bookstores to get an idea of what's out there.

Just write, and worry about appropriateness later. I think you'll be fine. But then, I was reading Stephen King at age 12.

James81
05-08-2008, 06:32 PM
I'm curious about something.

How much cursing is allowed to a younger audience? (say, the 10-15 year old range)

Is there any kind of rules to this?

OverTheHills&FarAway
05-08-2008, 10:53 PM
Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book comes out in September, marketed in separate packages to both kids and adults. It's about a kid that grows up in a graveyard raised by dead people.

I think kids can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. How is it that we've forgotten what it's like to be a kid? Sure, Bambi terrifies some, but the majority are just as intrigued by the idea of death and the possibility of an afterlife as we are. It's something everyone has to go through eventually, so it makes sense that kids would want to know what it's all about.

C.bronco
05-08-2008, 10:59 PM
When I was in middle school, I read The Amityville Horror, [I]The Exorcist, and The Shining.[I]..

icerose
05-08-2008, 11:03 PM
You may end up having a publisher decide it's adult literature, classify it as such, then have the kids who are into that kind of stuff buying it and reading it.

I read mostly adult fiction by the time I was 13. I was reading John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, and so forth. Those are all marketed toward adults but they are snatched up by school libraries.

IceCreamEmpress
05-09-2008, 12:49 AM
My question, though, is do you suppose a book with a lot of 'deathly' things would pass as a book for children aged 10-15?

Yes. Kids love books about death. Death has been considered an appropriate topic for books aimed at teenagers and pre-teens for at least the past 40 years.

Momento Mori
05-09-2008, 02:15 AM
Virector:
do you suppose a book with a lot of 'deathly' things would pass as a book for children aged 10-15?

Two words: Darren Shan.

Seriously, he writes horror fiction for 9 years up and there's death and violence all over the place. Put it this way, I'm in my 30s and there have been chapters where I've had to put the book down and have a time-out, some milk and a biscuit before going back to it.

Andy McNabb and Chris Ryan also write dark takes on their soldier tales for teenagers (13 up) which are really popular but have people dying and killing. If you're looking for something a bit lighter on the action, then 13 Things To Do Before I Die is a book that's about a dying teenager who makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies (strangely enough ;)). I'm having a brain malfunction on the author's name but you should be able to find it easily in a book store as it came out last year to a lot of publicity. There was a historical fiction book as well that came out for 12 years + a couple of months ago that's set during the French Revolution against the backdrop of people being guillotined and I'm drawing a blank on title and author - something to do with rubies, maybe ...

If you're still worried, head over to your nearest chain bookstore and peruse the books on sale for your target age group to see what sort of subjects get covered.


James81:
How much cursing is allowed to a younger audience? (say, the 10-15 year old range)


There's some discussion of this in the Children's Forum and opinions seem to vary. However, The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nightime has the f-word and c-word and was marketed as young adult and adult fiction. The brilliant Henry Tumour is aimed at 13+ and has the f-word. Holly Black's Modern Tales of Faerie series has the f-word.

I would imagine that it's a tougher thing to get swearing into a book aimed at under 12s and a friend of mine who has a book aimed at 13+ audience coming out with a UK publisher told me that she had to do some pruning of the swearing in her book - she could keep the words in, but they couldn't be gratuitous. No idea what the view is on the US side of things (or indeed, anywhere else for that matter).

MM

Cassidy
05-09-2008, 07:19 AM
I'm curious about something.

How much cursing is allowed to a younger audience? (say, the 10-15 year old range)

Is there any kind of rules to this?

pretty common in YA (12+), not so much in middle-grade (9-12) or younger. there are several threads on this topic over in the children's lit forum-- the question seems comes up a lot.