I've always loved kids. Babies, toddlers, little kids, tweens, even teens. I'm a big fan of children. Which is why most people who know me aren't surprised to find out I write for kids. They are a natural audience for me. In many ways, I think the fact that I've retained my own inner exuberant child inside me helps. I still process reactions as I would when I was ten years old. I love strong emotions, I love strong reactions. Awesome, gross, exciting, boring, disgusting, funny, frightening, etc. That's how I tend to process my world.
I've been so very excited about the fact that my book will be out in 6 months and that kids will be getting their hands on it. Real live kids will read my book and let me know what they think. Love it or hate it, they will let me know. And I'm so excited about it. The funny thing is that I'm not at all nervous about how they will react. Kids are brutally honest. When they love something they will rave about it and when they hate something they will not hold back. Good or bad, they will provide the most honest responses that an author can ask for. They won't pick apart plot holes and criticize words choices. All they care about is if it's a good story and were they bored. Hey, that works for me!
So it was pretty awesome when my editor decided to get some early kid readers for Prophecy and I asked Oldest to pimp it for me. Within ten seconds of her sending the text, we had more offers to read than I had copies to give out. For all that we are in a technologically driven world, kids really do love to read.
I got some amazing responses. The kind that's handwritten on torn pieces of paper and stuck in the MS with loopy handwriting or cramped chicken scratches. The one that is signed "from your number one fan." Or one that said "I really really really loved your book, how soon can I read the next one?" All of them had read my book so fast, they made my head spin!
But I think what really got to me was an email I got on a Friday night. One of my teen readers had just been passed a bound copy of my book with a lovely letter from my editor that evening. At a little after 1:00AM, an email popped up in my inbox from my young reader. It said "I started reading and now I can't stop! It's so excellent!!!" I kind of felt my heart swell. That reader was so excited, they wrote to me in the middle of the night! It was my deepest wish fulfilled. A kid was staying up late to read my book because they couldn't stop reading.
I don't know what the reception will be when Prophecy comes out into the real world, but right now, I'm feeling great because there's a handful of kids who think my book is amazing. And that, to me, is worth more than any review by any adult, no matter how prestigious.