Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Should my kid read your book?"

The above title is a question people ask about my books every so often. In fact, it was asked to me today by a reader who wanted to know just exactly was in Zombie Showdown. I have friends who have kids, and some of my classmates and contemporaries have kids who are at the age where their parents are searching high and low for anything for the kids to read. Luckily, they have a friend who writes interesting books. Advantage: Me.

I don't really know how to answer this question, to be honest. I don't have kids, so for me to make a decision like this for them is really not my place. The bookseller in me says yes, buy the book... but the responsible adult in me says no, don't do it if you don't want your younger kids reading about older teen/mature situations. It's a hard line for me to straddle, because I don't want to say yes and then turn around a few days later and get blamed for giving their child nightmares or bad ideas.

I write adult fiction. That means there's a pretty good chance there will be obscene language, hot blonde women in their underwear, or even hot blonde women wearing nothing whatsoever. There will be swords (in my fantasy novels), blood, gore, guns, and really cool cars. There will be diabolical plots by diabolical terrorists who will use anything and everything to gain power, even if they have to kill people to do it. Occasionally I'll write young adult fiction, where I'll tone down the adult stuff BUT will write about situations that teens go through, i.e. hormones. I was a teen boy once, and I'm not that old that I don't remember what I went through back then.

Zombie Showdown, for example, is a YA book. YA is normally geared to readers aged 12-18. Most of my other books are adult books, but I know of readers as young as 11 enjoying Turning Back The Clock and 14 reading the AGENT novels.

So, to answer the question....

(Waits two minutes)

Shit, I still can't answer it.

Answering the question really isn't my place. I'm not your child's parent. I don't know whether or not your child is mature enough to handle the subject matter I present. I have some friends whose children can handle it, but I'm sure there are some whose children aren't ready for what I write. I'm not qualified to decide whether or not someone's child is ready. I'm not a teacher, and I'm not a parent.

A parent should know -- or place -- limitations. My parents put limitations on what I could read, listen to, or watch. I remember when Digital Underground's album Sex Packets came out. I had bought the cassette. It had a parents advisory warning on it. My father saw it and forbade me from listening to it. I'm sure that if he were still alive, he'd still forbid me from listening to it. Denying permission for me to listen to it made me want to listen to it more.

I think you know where I'm going with this... if you, as a parent, deny something to your children, they'll want to do it more.


OK, deny my books to your kids.

Just kidding.

I'm not the parent here. I'm not the one who has to make the decision. If you choose to let your child read the/my book, YOU should read it first to make sure it is something you want your children reading. The only other suggestion I can make is this: don't underestimate them -- they probably would get hooked on to reading even more after reading my words.