There is a coffee shop in my lovely town of Danville that my brother and I frequent called Mad Goat. It is a small establishment with a comforting ambiance paired with interesting people, kind baristas, a variety of soft music playing from jazz to that soulful blues that I haven’t heard since I left Mississippi, and of course the amazing caramel chai lattes that keep me coming back. I open up today’s edition of The Undisputed Unknown with this tidbit of information because as you can imagine, I have done quite a bit of writing at Mad Goat. It was there when I received the email that my short story “A Sinner’s Grace” (http://www.wordhaus.com/a-sinners-grace/) was to be published by wordhaus. It was there that I wrote countless other stories and one-shots, and in the near future I am sure that I will be there sipping another caramel chai latte while organizing the final touches before publishing The Contract.
As I stated before, my brother is my marketing manager. He’s got the qualifications for it and I am sure that he is going to do everything in his power to get this novel the attention it deserves. One topic that we frequently discuss in our little coffee shop haven is the question of The Contract‘s genre. Another lesser-known fact about me: before writing The Contract, I was exclusively a Young Adult writer. I know, it’s a broad category, but I enjoyed the freedom that it gave while also allowing me to speak to young readers, something I truly love. Yet that is the beauty of YA – people from all ages and backgrounds can enjoy this genre. You can push your limits and express in a way that a young person can comprehend while also speaking to someone with the life experience who can relate. I will forever love this genre and I have to admit, most of my personal favorites that I re-read are found in this category.
However, I decided that I wanted to try something different with The Contract. This was (aside from short stories, of course. I’ve been toying with the concept of expanding for a while) my first true attempt to branch into a different genre. Initially, I set out to write a psychological thriller. I am a lover of psychology, and I wanted to write a story that emphasized the art of making a thought-provoking work that also can be viewed as a puzzle that can be interpreted in different perspectives. Thus began a three year journey of research, college courses, and my own personal experiences packed into a tale that I have grown to cherish greatly.
Yet, after new drafts and so much editing, I have come to realize that perhaps I did not stray too far from my roots. While many of the topics I cover are mature and even controversial, there is no reason why this story could not be found on a Young Adult shelf or carried by a freshman in high school. Did I do something wrong? All of this time I wanted to grow up, challenge myself, release something that provokes the intelligent and stimulates thoughts that people might never ponder otherwise.
Then I think about my little antihero that manages to steal the spotlight in this story. Without spoiling much, I truly thought about how this character would resonate with young readers. He is highly intelligent and possesses quite a bit of malice, yet we learn later that this is definitely not the only thing that this character possesses. Every story must cause our protagonist to experience a great change of some sort, and by the end of The Contract, this is accomplished. Yet could a young person comprehend the intricacies and the deep character development?
The answer is yes. I believe a large myth set in the publishing world is that children and teens can’t grasp deep tones. That just is not true. While writing style can be a judging factor as to why a child might lose interest, that does not mean that they are incapable of enjoying something that could be suited toward adults when it comes to psychological stories.
That being said, I decided that I will continue to place it in the psychological thriller section as I had initially intended. Of course, I would not be offended in the least if a young reader picked up a copy – I’d be delighted. This has always been about the desire to tell a story and hope that someone might enjoy it. I believe that is the goal for all writers, deep down.
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