INTERN is staring a birthday in the face (tomorrow, actually) so thoughts of age have been on her mind. She went to the library yesterday to check up on the new YA novels and actually felt creepy for being there, even making up excuses of "professional interest" to justify her lurking presence (and definitely not, um, to justify wrestling the latest Laurie Halse Anderson novel out of that little thirteen-year old girl's hands and running away with it.)
Then something creepier happened. INTERN more or less fled from the new books section (too many fresh-faced youngsters about) and perused the other YA stacks. Then it so happened that every book INTERN picked off the shelves (OK, two books, but whatever) were indeed written by 13-year olds. The first was In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, whom INTERN had never heard of, and the other was something by Gordan Korman of This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall renown, who was INTERN's absolute favorite author growing up and who wrote the aforementioned Macdonald Hall book in grade seven.
This led INTERN to spend the rest of the day in dire research, over the course of which she discovered a whole pile of authors who published their first novel at thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen, and then kept on going at the pace of about a book a year, pretty much ever since. Even frickin' Jane Austen wrote The History of England (of which there is a copy on INTERN's shelf) when she was 15.
INTERN feeling aged and forlorn. The late eighties suddenly feel as antiquated a time to get born as the 1880's. Out brief candle!
Over the course of her stalki—er, research, INTERN noticed a few similarities among the Child Novelists published by major publishing houses (as opposed to the self-published camp, which is a whole 'nother ball game).
First, obviously, is talent. Talent, diligence, humor, and imagination...which every novelist needs, regardless of age.
Second, there is a disproportionate amount of homeschooled Child Novelists, some with very involved parents (tales of parents dropping their other work to promote the young scribe's masterpiece, as in the case of Christopher Paolini's Eragon series, pop up more than once).
Third, there is often (not always) some kind of Mentor who gives the budding Child Novelist a nudge (Atwater-Rhodes' highschool English teacher was a literary agent) and says, "yes, you are mere no pipsqueak, you are a Writer!"
Then there is sometimes that magical Inciting Incident to push the Child Novelist on their way, like Gordon Korman's grade seven teacher's assignment to write a novel over the course of the semester.
It may be too late for INTERN to be a Child Novelist, but for the parental types who read this blog, it is not too late for thy cute and scampering progeny! So go forth and get little Jimmy a high-powered creative writing coach and an agent, already! Geeze!
INTERN is off to learn how to smoke cigarettes or something so that if she can't be a Child Novelist, she can at least start practicing her Bitter and Shriveled Old Woman act as of tomorrow.