I am fairly new to writing Middle Grade. Well, I say new - I've only been writing it since the end of 2010. But for reasons too complicated and, frankly, dull to go into, my first Middle Grade book came out at the start of this week. And since this is Middle Grade Strikes Back, I thought I would do a quick list of then of the things I love best about writing for this age range. So here they are:
1) The freedom to explore identity and to have characters who are just finding out where they belong in the world. Technically, this applies to writing for any age range but I feel it applies more to MG. There's a definite sense of infinite possibility and a lively intense curiosity between the ages of 8-12.
2) Lists. I do love a list and so do Middle Graders. Lists are great for conveying info you need the reader to know without having to info-dump on the rug. I can't function without mine.
3) Length. There's no getting away from it - shorter books are often quicker to write than long ones. That doesn't make them easier - the themes might be similar but the language has to be carefully weighed and selected. Only the best stories will do.
4) It's a boom area - the heartland of children's publishing. This means it's crowded and getting more stuffed by the moment but I'm sure there's never been a time like this in terms of the range and diversity of books and their characters, plus access to authors. Which brings me neatly onto...
5) Diversity. Not the Britain's Got Talent dance group obviously. The good news here is that Middle Grade is one of the most vibrant and inclusive areas to write in - diversity is so hot right now. As it should be - it's important that our readers are able to find books that reflect themselves.
6) There are some awesome MG books out there. The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone is brilliant - full of gorgeous detail and breath-taking adventure. Or A Boy Called Hope, which is simply wonderful.
7) The readers. MG readers are generous and open-minded - they will try anything and seem more willing to take a punt on an author they don't know, to give them a chance. And they come to events!
8) MG publishers. Maybe it's because it feels as thought there is a lot of brilliant MG Fiction out there but I really feel as though those publishers who have middle grade titles are the most exciting at the moment.
9) Book bloggers - OK, these might not be exclusively MG but the ones I've seen around definitely go that extra mile to champion books they love,
10) Did I mention lists? My new middle grade book - Completely Cassidy; Accidental Genius features a number of lists. Not only do they come in handy to pass on information but they're a lot of fun to write. Which brings me onto #11.
11) Oh. It's meant to be ten things. OK, I'll leave it there then...
Tamsyn Murray is the author of nine books for children and teens. Her first book for adults is out in 2015. Catch her on her website or on Twitter @tamsyntweetie