Monday, January 25, 2010

Crossing Between the Lines...

One of the questions I am often asked about
Peter Pan’s NeverWorld:
Is it for kids or adults?

Well, that’s a tricky one to rejoinder. Although I don’t express my reply as such, the answer centers around a return question:

Is Peter Pan (Peter and Wendy) for kids or adults?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to present a case for either in an effort try to convince you. But surely it’s crossed your mind, too. There’s a great deal of material that only adults will enjoy in Barrie’s work. It’s also much darker and more violent than people who are only familiar with the basics (or the Disney feature) might initially realize. Or, on another level, it's quite obvious that the meaning of it changes when one (ahem!) grows up. Thus, suffice to say that Peter Pan is not specifically for children any more than it is specifically for adults.

And so, I usually wind up saying that my book is on that same fence. It’s no more or less violent than Barrie’s and the darker and more mature aspects are there. It is in this “Betwixt-and-Between” place is where I tend to find my own work.

The hero(ines) of my books are pre-teens and teenagers (or in a specific case - early twenties.) But does that make them for that age group? They seem to be stories written about kids for kids… and yet they’re also enjoyed by adults.

For instance, in What If It’s a Trick Question?, the shenanigans Jeremy finds himself mixed up in at high school might strike a chord with a teen, but also serve as nostalgia for an adult. Oh sure, I know, it can be argued that such is the case with any work. But that’s precisely what “troubles” me -- where do these tales belong?

The popular series about the boy wizard is, of course, a very good example of this phenomena, for lack of a better term. Many adults enjoy his escapades just as much as grade schoolers.

In the field, this is often known as “Crossover Fiction” and it’s a general rule of thumb not to strive to write a book with this genre (if it even is one) in mind. Hence, my dilemma. No, I wouldn’t say I'm intentionally writing to achieve a “crossover.” It just… happens.

However, I have found that I am in good company (besides Barrie.) I’ve posted before about The Graveyard Book - a wonderful novel by Neil Gaiman. Well, on the Mouse Circus website, in the section devoted to this work, there are clips of Gaiman answering questions - and this very subject comes up.

Please do take the time to check out the video at this link. I didn’t embed it because apart from having no embed code, it’s better to get sucked in poking around the site anyway. (And I’m not about to copy and paste it without permission.)

So, please, listen to what he has to say. He answers a question about The Graveyard Book before the part I wish to "present" to you.

Nobody’s Name & Neil’s Audience

And yes, I agree with him in terms of his answer. Dead on, Mr. Gaiman. (And thanks again for your masterpiece.)

P.S. - You can also listen to him read the entirety of the novel on the site!

GRAVy! (Sorry...sorry...couldn't resist!)

1 comment:

Anon said...

Neil Gaiman's answer was funny! XD

I think "crossover fiction" is some of the best fiction out there, intentional or not--it means you neither outgrow it as you grow up, nor need to "wait until you're older" to acquire the sophistication necessary to appreciate it.

Plus it continues to challenge you as there are elements that may not make sense until you do acquire that level of sophistication--it's like reading a new story each time, even though the story itself doesn't change. ^_^

But I do agree that it's difficult to be conscious about it, unless you're just writing what you like and that happens to coincide with what "crossover fiction" is.