I started writing for pleasure at the age of ten. Elementary music classes, a.k.a. band, started in fifth grade at the school I attended, and looking back it's like learning to read music and actively participate in an arts class first introduced me to my muse, finicky posterchild for ADHD that he is. I threw myself into learning music as the school year began that fall. By Christmas, my list consisted mostly of art supplies and craft kits.
As winter began to warm into spring, my fingers began to itch for pen and paper.
It took a few weeks, but I finally caved and began scribbling a skit in my notebook during a D.A.R.E. presentation. (I know. I know. But it wasn't like I was interested in trying any of that junk. When would I have time anyway? Homework kept me busy until way past bedtime.) Mr. Nelson, our band director, caught me scribbling out a different story a couple weeks later. He encouraged me to keep it up, so long as I wasn't writing during class and inadvertently alerted my friends to this new past time in the process. Their reaction once they wore me down and I let them read it is what hooked me on writing fiction.
Back then I wrote for my peers. As I aged, so did the audience I imagined. Well, it did most of the time anyway, I tried writing two or three picture books, but they stunk. However, my imaginary audience's ages stopped inching upward as I left high school.
I blame my muse's issues with Peter Pan syndrome.
Eight years later, I sat there wondering why he was suddenly shouting at me to up the age of my audience. ADHD, poster child for it all the way that one. What was he doing for eight years? Maybe he saw something lurking on the mental drawing board, scribbled out because it didn't fit with the audience, and decided it was a better idea.
I've always had a sarcastic and acerbic sense of humor. It's one reason I was so quiet in school. Kids my age didn't always get the fact I was joking, and I can't stand arguing. So if there was any chance my attempt at humor would result in unintentioned insult, I kept my mouth shut.
It's cliche at this point, but it's also true that we all have light and dark in us.
I realized my sense of humor is an expression of the darker aspects of my nature years ago. What I hadn't noticed was the increasingly disturbing ideas garnered by my perusals of science articles. Give me a scientific advance, and I can follow it out to a projected perversion of itself, twisted through long exposure to human nature. This is what makes me a science-fiction writer, this automatic look into the kaleidoscope of possible futures when presented with a recent discovery.
I started out in college with the idea of becoming a biochemical research scientist who wrote as a hobby.
Months of periodic, uncontrollable shaking spells put an end to the notion I'd be spending my career in a lab. No matter how much I joked about it in high school, I had no desire to prove my senior prophesy of blowing myself to Timbuktu my first day on the job after receiving my doctorate. So, I changed majors from chemistry to English, keeping my minor in biology, with the intent to become a reporter with aspirations of working for a wildlife magazine.
As time went on, through the ups and downs of life, my studies, and some things I heard, saw, and read about during my internship and early career, I began to hold a more jaded view of human nature. I understood more of the science articles I was reading. With this greater understanding and less than optimistic view of humanity when viewed through a mass lens, the colors in my kaleidoscope darkened.
That's when my audience changed.
The line between YA and adult fiction is one of perspective. To teens the world - life - is full of hope. Sure there are bad things out there, but life stretches out ahead of you. No matter how horrid things get, there's plenty of time for everything to turn around. Adults have been through enough of those rough patches to know they come with the frequency of chuckholes on a forgotten street. Adults often expect a world full of shadows, and that makes the sparks and patches of light all the more precious.
A. B. England is a small business owner, home-schooling mom, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves fantasy, mythology, and all flavors of science fiction.
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