Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stephen King on What He Has

by Stephanie Morrill

"Why do you write for teens?"

I get asked that question a decent amount in interviews. By now, I should have a good answer for it, but the truth is that I don't know. I can theorize that it has something to do with marrying my high school sweetheart, with seeing how choices made in high school affect the rest of your life. But truly, I don't know. Those are just the stories I have.

So that must be why I resonate with Stephen King's when he says in his classic book On Writing, "I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that's all. If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It's what I have."



What about you? What kind of stories do you "have"? Do you ever feel like you owe people an explanation for why you write what you do?


37 comments:

  1. I have stories of dragons and adventurers, of princesses and princes and semi-snarky soldiers, of the things I've loved since I was a little girl. I've never felt that I needed to explain why I write these things- just why I don't write other things (*cough*nonfiction*cough), if that makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have love stories--and there are plenty of people who don't like romance. But to me, life isn't worth much without love, and a story needs it too. My stories don't always (or often? LOL) fit the genre-romance category, but they've got it. Because, yes, it's what I have inside me. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Romance is an easy target, which I've always found a bit baffling. But of course, I write romance as well :)

      Delete
  3. I have stories on princes and princesses and romance and sci-fi adventures. There are those people out there who hate that stuff but I still write my stories becuase I love them. :):):)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And who wants to spend time writing things they don't love 100%? Good for you, Melissa!

      Delete
  4. More and more I've realized that all I have are stories of memories and the mind. Each of my three story ideas and my current WIP revolve around memories, souls, and time. To me they all connect and fascinate me. It's what I think about 24/7--and now I can't make up a story without having it touch on one of those topics! I guess I could call it my 'concentration' project/subject. I think it's why I'm drawn to insane characters or characters who go against the flow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My current WIP trilogy focuses a lot on memories! So cool to find someone else who's obsessed with that too. :D

      Delete
  5. How do you set about finding what kinds of stories are yours? I'm currently experimenting to find my perfect genre, as I have no idea what it is. It probably isn't romance. Or mystery. But how can I find what I'm "built with"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do most authors find their genre and stick with it, or is it okay to jump from genre to genre?

      Delete
    2. These are great questions, girls.

      Haley, there's no rush to figure that out. I always assumed I would grow out of writing stories about teenagers. It wasn't until I was in my twenties and kept finding myself drawn to reading YA books as well as writing YA books that I realized it was how I was built. Just write the kind of stories you like, the kind you like to read, and that will sort itself out.

      Delete
    3. Emily, that question is a little tricky to answer :)

      If you look at shelves in bookstores, it certainly seems that writers just find a genre and stay there. In general, that happens because it's good business sense. Rare is the writer who hasn't gotten excited about a story idea that was a completely different genre for them. (I have a dystopian manuscript sitting my WIP files, and Jill has a story that she describes as being like Anne of Green Gables in hers.)

      But also, rare is the writer who has done well enough in their chosen genre that they have permission to branch out. John Grisham has earned the right, as has Stephen King. Many writer under pen names. Nora Roberts writes mysteries under the name J.D. Robb.

      Is that helpful at all?

      Delete
    4. Yeah, that makes sense! Thanks! :)

      Delete
    5. That helps a lot, Stephanie. Thanks for the advice!

      Delete
  6. I write fantasy.
    End story.
    ;) I tried to write adventure once (epic fail), science fiction (even more epic fail), and a contemporary (not even going to describe the epicness of this fail). And then there was that historical fiction...
    I love other worlds, special powers, and medieval-ish courts. There's something about it that grabs my interest, and I can't help but write those kinds of things.
    (I've also got a thing for poor abused orphan boys, but we won't go there. ;P)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great, Catsi. I'm glad you've found your perfect genre, I'm still looking for mine. And I'm curious, what exactly is the contemporary genre? What describes a contemporary novel or puts it in that category?

      Delete
    2. I think I've always known that I'm a fantasy writer--it's what I've always read, and what I've always liked to write. I guess I'm lucky in that area, since I've never had to "look" for my genre.

      I'm not totally definite on the answer to your question, but I'm pretty sure it means a novel set in the current time, with realistic events.
      Actually, I just researched it a bit, and from what I read, I was right. It's a story set in today, with events that could really happen.

      Delete
  7. I don't think an author owes anyone an explanation for what they write. (Well, not unless it is really bizarre and gruesome--the kind of stuff that will put you on the FBI's most-watched-citizen list.) Each of us writes the stories we have within us. I can't help it if others want me to write a genre I just don't feel. Trying to do that would result in the most stilted, wooden sort of writing I can imagine.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think my "thing" is the weird stuff, and retelling old stories as new. I love fantasy and science-fiction, and retelling fairytales, legends and classics. I've always loved reading fantasy and sci-fi, and fairytales, legends and mythology of all kinds. Those are the things I've always loved reading about, ever since I can remember. :)
    ~hannah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So cool! I'm working on developing my first fairy-tale retelling for NaNoWriMo this year. I think it's fantasy enough to fit "my" stories. I love the idea of what you said--retelling old stories as new, and being able to put my own spin on classic fairytales. (Pied piper as a runaway orphan, anyone? ;D)

      Delete
  9. Hmm, now that I think about it, my protagonist is always a man of around twenty to twenty five. I have no idea why!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My protagonists are always young teen orphan boys. I start to worry about them all sounding the same... ;)

      Delete
    2. It's funny when you can spot patterns like that :)

      Delete


  10. Right now- and probably for awhile - I'm writing middle grade. I feel kind of silly explaining my books to people I know, since I'm a teen and therefore hang around the YA reader crowd more. But the way I look at it, I'm the perfect age to write middle grade. I can look upon my eleven-year-old self with wiser eyes, but I don't have to dig too deep to remember what it's like to be eleven. Plus, I just love reading and writing middle grade. It keeps my mind in happier, more imaginative places than the YA stories I'm drawn to, which while not totally depressing, are darker.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like I'm commenting on everyone's comments today, but I'm going to post another one anyway, LOL.

      I totally know what you mean--I love MG novels. Most of the time at the library, I'm in the children's section browsing the new middle grade books. (And then grinning like a little kid when I see that they /finally/ got the next book in the series.) And then I get weird looks from the teens there, checking out their vampire romances, as I happily bubble to the librarian about how amazing Ranger's Apprentice is.

      And, yes, this is the perfect time to write MG! We're old enough to have more experience than the average middle schooler, but we still remember what it was like to be one. :D

      Delete
    2. LOL, yes, while 'juvenile fiction' is a favorite haunt of mine, it's gotten me some strange looks, not from the teens (they're on the other side of the library) but from the elementary schoolers/parents of the elementary schoolers, especially when I was contemplating writing a beginning chapter book and checked out a huge stack of them. I imagine they're wondering if I can read any better than that. ;)

      Delete
    3. That is exactly how I feel when I'm in the Juvenile Fiction section. The parents are looking at me like, "Are you just tall? Or are you getting books for your little siblings? Or...what are you doing?" And I just ignore them, haha.

      I haven't been working on MG in a while, but it makes perfect sense, what you said about why you write it. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up writing it someday. :)

      Delete
  11. I love that it's so often intangible. The love for story. The love for creating. I can't hardly word it myself. Certainly not any better than Stephen King has.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My book, and other stories, are mostly science fiction and fantasy. And if I had an explanation, well, because... I want other people to be more aware, if you know what I mean, to be encouraged to read more, and enjoy my work.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love writing sci-fi, especially dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. I often feel I owe people an explanation for writing in that genre or for why I'm drawn to write in what can quickly become a very dark genre. I want to explain I'm not just writing a Hunger Games knock-off (I haven't even read/seen them.). I am just really fascinated by dystopian societies.

    ~ Kayla

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have always been with magicians and creatures of myth.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm still trying to figure out what genre I want to write for the majority of my novels. I've only finished the first draft of one novel so far, so I am still largely in the experimentation phase of my writing. The one novel that I've finished is an MG science fiction novel, but there are so many other MG genres that I want to try, including historical fiction, allegory, Christian contemporary, mystery and fairy tale retellings.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like to write philosophy, theology, adventure, all mixed up with drama :b and some of my philosophy can be weird. I'm not too good with modern fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the innocence of middle grade fiction and the insanity of being able to do things I wouldn't normally be able to do. That's why I write middle grade spy novels :-)

    ReplyDelete

Home