Reading Nicky Schmidt's splendid post about YA fiction made me think about my own preferred reading matter: Middle Grade Fiction - yes it deserves those capital letters! I love MG, I really do, but I've never before considered why that is. And I think it's freedom. MG is often full of adventure and excitement, taking you into realms you'd never otherwise enter, although you may have tried to create them when you were little. My sister and I used to pretend to be eskimos in the cupboardy room on the landing. It was the room that led up to the loft and was dark and tiny with sloping ceilings. Perfect. To us, the world we created was utterly real. Many a happy hour was spent in cramped, semi-darkness. And reading or writing MG novels gives me the same sense of place and time. My absolutely very favourite book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, still fills my mind with the images its words created. A new, different place. Something so far apart from my/the ordinary world. Somewhere to escape to. Somewhere that filled me with wonder. Somewhere that was mine and mine alone. To me, that's freedom, and is what makes MG so special. Yes, there are emotions, high and lows, in MG, but none of the YA angst. The MG books I love to read, and try to write, still retain their sense of innocence and playfulness. Even the excellent Mortlock by Jon Mayhew, with its innards and scary aunts, is so much fun and has a big dose of humour alongside the yuck bits.
And you still manage to get Ben Barnes!
Don't get me wrong. I love YA too. I've banged on enough about Anna Dressed in Blood lately! YA plays an important role for both adults and teenagers (my daughter would never call herself a young adult!), as Nicky says in her blog post. I've tried writing YA but it always comes out just a bit too young.
So, while I don't agree with "write what you know", I most certainly think you should "write what you love". And I love Middle Grade Fiction!