I recently crashed my sister’s 20-year high school reunion with her. I, of course, won’t be headed to my reunion for 8 more years, but I wanted to reminisce about the glory days and get some good high school dirt for, you know, “research” purposes for my new YA book.
Turns out, it was fabulous! In terms of “research” I mean. You know how you always hear that people change and grow a lot after high school? Well, I’m here to tell you…it ain’t so! Nope. People pretty much don’t change a bit. I mean, yeah, some girls had plastic surgery and some guys were bald, but no one seemed to have done much growing over the years. Beyond physically, I mean.
The partiers were still partiers. The uncool kids were still trying mightily to be cool. The potheads were still potheads. The good-looking, charming drug dealer was still….well, you get the picture. My sister and her girlfriends were still the smart, hot, athletic chicks who are completely untouchable because they’re so perfect. I was still the immature little sister tagging along with the “older” crowd trying desperately to be, um, “older.” Although, now I’m so happy to be younger ‘cause, well, they’re in their late 30’s and I’m, well, YOUNGER!
It was the perfect little “research” experience. As we told story after story about the good old days, I realized that nothing’s changed much with the world in 20 years. I mean, aside from a few hair plugs and some of the girls resembling contestants on “THE SWAN”, our stories were the same as those of teens today. Every teen book and movie still explores the requisite teen angst milestones of first romance, first car, first car crash, alcohol and drug experimentation, maybe sex, maybe not, etc.
To me, there is something so special about the teen experience. It’s the best of times. It’s the worst of times. (Best first line of a book, ever! Thanks, Charles Dickens!) And I find that the older I get, the more nostalgic I get for those times. Jay and I recently laughed about the fact that we’re well equipped to write YA books because we have the perfect combination of wisdom and experience of 30-year-olds and the emotional maturity of 16-year-olds. Well, Jay and Robin are about 16. I’m still hovering around 13. If you don’t believe me, just hang out with the three of us for about 5 minutes!!
My friend KT and I (Hi KT!!) recently laughed about the fact that we both suffer from “Peter Pan Syndrome” (Look it up! It’s a real affliction in the DSM-III). I’m immature. There, I said it. But, luckily I’ve found the one job in the world that not only allows me to be immature, but actually CELEBRATES my emotional maturity level. I know you’re looking for a career change, KT…so I suggest you come on over and take a walk on the JUVENILE SIDE!