Monday, July 28, 2014

Guest Post - C. Lee McKenzie - Realistic YA

I'm delighted to welcome C. Lee McKenzie today, as she launches her new book, Double Negative.

Why I Write Realistic YA Fiction, a guest post by C. Lee McKenzie

Long ago, I vaguely remember being a fourteen-year-old sophomore in high school, but, even all these years later, I have a vivid memory of opening the book I’d been assigned to read for English. Silas Marner. Within the first few pages, it was clear that this nineteenth century tale about an outcast weaver had nothing to do with my life. I couldn’t relate to it. By the end of chapter one, I stopped trying.

When I was older and studying at the university, a teacher said adolescents need emotional and social development and not intellectual growth. My textbooks reinforced that message. The classics are lovely, they should be cherished and passed on, but with a few exceptions, they don’t come up with answers to questions young readers are asking.

“Who am I?”

“Does anyone know how I feel?”

When I started writing young adult novels, I knew I wanted to write stories that spoke to the issues kids face today, not two centuries ago. I knew that if I’d been assigned a book that had kids working through things I could relate to, I would have read that book. I would have appreciated finding out that others had hard times, failed, were unhappy, but somehow worked through all of that and found their way.

I guess you’d say I didn’t want to leave my readers feeling alone as I had been when I had no life experience to connect with Silas and his problems. I wanted to write books that turned kids into lifelong readers rather than turn them off.

About Silas Marner—it’s a book I will read as an adult one of these days. It’s on my list because now I think I’m ready to appreciate it.

Thank you for stopping by, Lee! I couldn't agree more on needing to provide books for teens that they can identify with.

Below, you'll find information on C. Lee McKenzie's new book, Double Negative, now available for purchase. At the bottom of the post, you can enter the drawing!

Double Negative
C. Lee McKenzie

Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Young Adult
Available now from Evernight Teen

Hutchison Mc Queen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read. And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

You can purchase Double Negative HERE at Evernight Teen.

You can find C. Lee McKenzie at:
Her Facebook fan page

Have you purchased Double Negative yet? What books did you identify with as a teen? Or were there any? 

May you find your Muse.

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  1. Lee, you really touched on a topic I feel strongly about. Requiring students to read 'classics' they find dry and boring only turns them off to reading. Your book sounds like just the opposite. Congrats on the release.

  2. Good point and smart to write to today's teens.

  3. Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic thing that affects my mother, so anything that puts a spotlight on it is welcome Shannon.

  4. Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic thing that affects my mother, so anything that puts a spotlight on it is welcome Shannon.

  5. @Susan, I'm glad we share the same idea about reading the classics. I'm ready to appreciate them now but I was't when I was fifteen.

    @Alex If we want lifetime readers, we need books to engage them when they're young.

    @Maurice I'm so sorry. What I discovered from my research sent chills down my spine. It a terrible disease and it's a tragedy for the families who have to watch it happen.

  6. I think it is great that C. Lee writes realistic YA fiction. Teens/YA readers want to read books that have characters they can relate to.

  7. Thank you for stopping by to support Lee, everyone!

    Maurice, I'm sorry about your mom. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease.