a recommendation for teen writers of young adult fiction
The Bloody Jack series
i think, after the Harry Potter series, the adventures of Jacky Faber were the convincing collection that spurred me in the direction of writing for young adults. These are fabulously, riotously fun stories with a gutsy modern heroine who seems not at all anachronistic in the turbulent historical settings L.A. Meyer has crafted for her. Sure she has to start out impersonating a boy, but that wasn’t at all unheard of ‘in the old days,’ and it got her well-started at sea, where she quickly proves her competence, and over time her leadership capabilities grow.
Why do I think these are great for young aspiring writers? Because they are so deft? So daring? So unafraid of convention, including stifling moralities? Yes yes and yes. I love that a man has created such a kickass girl protagonist (who morphs into an intrepid young woman of course, over the years). I love the nitty-gritty shipping details; they model the way to create a clear picture of a world that is probably unfamiliar to most readers. The historical research Meyer does is no doubt fun for him as well, and I think poses an example of how to balance imagination with exploration when we craft our stories so that they ring, like a dinner bell, with authenticity.
True, with ten books (as soon as the 2012 one is released) in the series, he has a formula going now. I actually don’t find that a turn-off, though I know some who do. Meyer keeps plumbing world events from that time period and sending Jacky off across the oceans and continents to get herself immersed in everything from wars to scientific experiments to international economic expansion. None of this feels forced! Jacky was a London street urchin, after all, and those Brits were everywhere at the turn of the nineteenth century. What a way for new authors to think about every headline they see as a potential storyline.
If all of these reasons don’t convince you, don’t read these with writing in mind at all. Read the books simply because they will make you laugh and inspire you to bolder living. Ain’t that enough?