Thursday, February 05, 2009

Investigative Reporting

You'd think I'd be set as a writer working on a Young Adult novel, having two teenagers in the house to observe, canvas and interrogate as they allowed. But no, I want more. Sure, I've heard things that will influence the way my project goes, but I'm taking advantage of this opportunity to find out more about adolescence today, rather than my twisted perspective from twenty-five years ago.

I started with reading Young Adult books--not a hard assignment, since I regularly read the Harry Potter series for fun escapism, and I devoured the Twilight series twice since summer. Then, as I have a queer theme in my book, I've read five of the novels out there with a queer theme, and just reserved a sixth on my library list.

I LOVE the library.

I'm also peeking at the beginning and ends of our daughter's books--she reads even faster than I do--to look at voice. Fascinating. Intriguing. And reading the inside covers of books in the Teen section of bookstores.

All this reading could prevent any actual writing, but luckily it hasn't been so. The re-write is progressing on schedule, though today I'm going to rewrite Chapter One again using a different voice, just to try it on.

Then there is the music. I'm diving into the deep end there, uncharacteristic, because I never listen to music by choice these days. My brain is so overwhelmed with daily minutiae that I can't take another dose of stimulation, and if I listen to anything, it's a book. But now I'm cramming in Muse, Linkin Park, Paramore, Evanescence and Death Cab For Cutie, because I'm all about the angst. If I were a teenager, these would definitely be my bands, and I like all the music I overhear from our kids.

Then there are the magazines. Some insipid, some less so, but full of images, advice, gossip, tell-alls about the teenage set, at least the teenage set imagined by editors and writers aiming to sell magazines.

The interviews I've set up with actual teens with expertise in the areas I need to know more about: Cross Country, drugs, dating, have yet to occur. Soon, soon. The one interview I did have was illuminating in the extreme.

But eavesdropping begins today. I'm lucky to be living a block from a high school. Which means that endless streams of teenagers are in the neighborhood before, during and after school. Every lunch hour the businesses in the area are crammed with students, talking, talking, talking, and I plan to take notes on the cadence, the slang, the kind of language used when students are among themselves, rather than in front of intrusive adults.

I rationalize this spying by saying that it will make a better book, a more appealing story, a truer reflection of real adolescent life. But it will be fun all the same.

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