Monday, July 30, 2007

Doom and Gloom

So I am thinking that I may have to kill off some of my characters in the new version of The Book of Dreams. Really, JK Rowling has presented a serious problem for writers of YA fantasy novels. In the old days you wrote these huge battles in which no one died. Or at least none of your major characters did. But now that the Harry Potter books have introduced death as a significant component of children's books, the average reader will no doubt consider battles in which nobody dies as "unrealistic" at best or "wussy and dumb" at worst. In fact, I was perusing the tables of children's books in my local bookstore today and was struck by the number of books hailing death as their theme. Is anyone else reminded of Watership Down and that awful warren where the chief bard-rabbit sang only of death? That was how our heroes knew they were in a place that was doomed. Is that why we sing of death to our children these days? Are we doomed?

7 comments:

Sandi said...

Death is a "natural part of life" blah blah blah....personally, I don't like characters to die in the books I read.
So, you have at least one reader who will be just fine if you don't kill anyone off

Kailana said...

I have the old versions of your books, but if you are going to start killing people off I am going to have to get the new versions too! (Well, I had planned too anyways, but since I read the old versions recently I was going to let some time come in between). Now, I am sitting here trying to figure out who you would kill, any of the characters would be sad because I liked them all! I don't know about us being doomed, but it's pretty crazy that even children's books have vicious battles with lots of death! I think it is great to try and take away the stigma surrounding death, but it sucks that now that Harry Potter has done it, other people are going to feel compelled. That's just my two cents.

OR Melling said...

The envelope is always being pushed, it seems. At first there is the thrill of something new and daring. Something breaking the mold. Then readers get jaded. So someone has to push the limit again. But where it will all end? Roman circuses? No, wait, we've got that already. Reality TV.

jordyn said...

Death, this sounds dorky, makes a book more... I can't find the right word. Exciting, I guess. It just adds to the drama and I do always enjoy a good cry.. But what do I know? I can't wait to read the version!

Anonymous said...

Not to mention The Waterbabies. What was my grandmother thinking when she read me that one?

Personally I'm not ready to deal with death yet in any way, especially my own mortality. When it comes to entertainment, certainly fantasy, that's a good place for death.

OR Melling said...

I forgot about The Water Babies! Actually Finn just told me that it was the cartoon version of Watership Down that traumatised her as a child. Come to think of it, what about those awful fairy tales? The girl in the red shoes who had her feet chopped off by the woodcutter. And the little mermaid dancing on knives for love (hmm). Seems we have always been singing of death and catastrophe in kids books!

jordyn said...

I'm glad I've never read those... I wouldn't be reading anything if I read those. But, I don't know, whatever fits the story, I guess. If death is something that gave the book a boost, then I guess I would do that. But whatever fits with the book. I'm not really helping. :-)