Thursday, March 1, 2012

Channeling Your Inner Teen by Meredith Zeitlin Guest Post

Happy Book Birthday Meredith & Kelsey
  My Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters 
by Meredith Zeitlin
Available Today!!!
Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble,IndieBound                       

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles. In case you’re wondering whether any of Kelsey’s experiences are based on Meredith’s own, the answer is NO WAY. When she was fourteen, Meredith looked and behaved perfectly at all times, was never in a single embarrassing situation, and always rode to school on her very own unicorn.

Here's the thing... I never actually got rid of my Inner Teen. (Seriously, who am I kidding? My inner second-grader and cranky toddler are still living large inside this so-called grown-up shell, too.) I'd like to think I'm slightly less sullen than I was as an actual teenager, and I've certainly figured out that the SATs are a total scam, but I still like the same stuff I did then, for the most part. Writing in the voice of a teenager is just writing in my own voice, really. I write as though I'm just talking to myself – because, in the immediate sense, I am.

Which either means that I'm incredibly immature and should get some help... or that many authors make the mistake of writing “down” to teens and kids. I don't think they do it on purpose, of course. It's just so tempting to mull over how much you've grown up over the years, and how mature you are, and then assume that someone who's 8 or 13 or 17 couldn't possibly relate to all the things you want to write about.

And in my opinion, that's just not true. If you really think about what you were like as a teen, I think you'll find you were EXACTLY THE SAME PERSON. Of course, having many more experiences means you make different choices in your adult life. But the inner voice, the YOU that lives inside your brain, is still the same person. You just know a lot more things and have (hopefully) learned from a lot more mistakes. And that's really important to remember, because I was always very aware of the times I was glaringly treated as “younger” growing up by adults who'd forgotten about that inner voice, and it made me nuts. So making sure I never dumb anything down in my writing is a HUGE deal to me.

There were several  times my editor told me to change a plot point or take out a multi-syllabic word because a young reader might not understand it. I told her that if a kid didn't know the word, she could look it up or go ask someone. That's how learned stuff. And nowadays, kids don't even have to lug the giant 50-pound dictionary off the top shelf! There's and a million websites teeming with answers about everything under the sun. All the more reason for authors to put as much potentially new and interesting stuff in a book as they can.

Of course, while teens can certainly – and often should – read books that are intended for adults, I do think that YA lit is different in a key way. Not every teen is ready to read about every subject at the same time, and there should be books available that hold off on more “intense” subject matter – or describe them in a less intense way. For example, there's plenty of talk about sex and drinking in “Freshman Year...” but nothing remotely explicit. It's just not that kind of book. And I think that's an important distinction – hopefully 15 year olds who aren't emotionally ready to read about sex (or whatever) will not feel uncomfortable, and the ones who are will enjoy the book for other reasons.
That said, one's inner teen must be nurtured, because s/he is very sensitive and needs oodles of attention! Luckily, there are lots of things that help. I'm still close friends with many of my friends from high school – and before! Most of the characters in the book are named for them, actually. And I still watch cartoons and and dye my hair funny colors and read YA and eat lots of candy and sleep later than I should and wear obnoxious t-shirts – some of which I've owned for a very, very long time. Walk the walk, right?

I know, I know... grow up. Well, I can't HELP IT. God, you're so MEAN! I'm going to my room and never coming out! SO. THERE.   

How do you guys nurture your Inner Teen? Are you taking good care of him/her???

             Bet you want to read her book now don't ya??? Yeah, I bet she's a lot of fun! Meredith look me up if you ever head South! We need to have some fun! Sleep over! Thanks so much for visiting!

             My review of Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters will be on the blog tomorrow. Please stop by and read my thoughts. But you already know how much fun this book is!
             Thanks you Meredith for visiting today and sharing your thoughts. I honestly don't know how I nurture my inner teen. Maybe act silly with my own teen. I'm really not a grown up yet. I don't know that I ever will be one. I tried it once but didn't like it! 


  1. I love to nurture my inner teen. I may be thirty-something, but I love going to midnight showings of movies based on my favorite YA books, and I'm a firm believer that nothing looks cooler than obnoxious tees paired with a favorite pair of beat up Chucks! I'm also still really (fictional) boy crazy, and doodle Mrs. [insert current crush's name here] in my Lisa Frank notebook, just like back in the day. ;)

  2. LOVE THIS POST! As an older reader of YA, it always bothers me when I come across characters who feel dumbed down, it just never made much sense to me. Like Meredith said, it's probably not always done on purpose, but I just can't help but think back to the types of books I read in high school English and think "If I can read and understand (sort of) Crime and Punishment and Moby Dick, I think I can deal with complex teenage emotions and darker subject matter."

    This sounds like such an amazing story, and the more guest post and interviews I read from Meredith, the more I want this book!

  3. I'm with Jenny... I hate it when they dumb down the characters. As for my inner teen? Well, I just hope she is a calmer sort. I think when we are teens things get blown out of proportion so much easier. I think I'm more laid back now and so is she. :)

  4. Melissa- Yes, we do tend to be more dramatic as teens, but I think that makes it a little more fun. Believe me, I'm still dramatic. Not a drama queen, but those hormones just never let up on me!

    Jenny- Buy this one! I'm hoping it will be a series, one for each year. I hope she goes through college. You'll have to read my review tomorrow, but there are no snorts of laughter. It was like reading your cover critiques and sometimes even better. I knew I couldn't eat or drink reading this one. And don't read it in front of people, just sayin'! Unless you want the weird eye rolls.

    Missie- I'm with you! I have Chuck Taylors that my boys outgrew before they got gross and I wear them with skirts, dresses, whatever. I'm kinda weird in my clothing choices. But I defintely nurture my inner teen, I have a blog all about YA books!! I drool over book boyfriends. I even write about teens or try to. I'm all for nurturing your inner teen!


  5. Meredith- Seriously, I want to hang out with you! I can see coke coming out of my nose at every other word you say and long talks into the night! You are freakin' awesome!!
    Yes, I have finished Freshman Year and if you are anything like Kelsey I want to be JoJo or Em, I'm more and Em type, not Cassie or Lexie. I'm definitely an Em. Need one of those??


  6. I love Meredith! Every guest post and interview I see makes me love her more! This book was seriously amazing! Ill read everything Meredith writes!

  7. I love the post!! And besides answering your questions I think you did an phenomenal job bringing your inner Teen on paper! Kelsey was the perfect Teen in my opinion! She thought her parents were simply against her and horrible (although deep down she loves them and knows they just want the best for her). Everything was so much more important for her it it really was!

    Uhm, anyway - I'm channeling my inner Teen by reading tons of YA and I love every second of it. Also, I'm teaching at University and while my students are in their early 20s I still love to connect with them. It keeps me young I believe :))


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