It’s the Seventh Day of the 13 Days of Christmas Giveaways! And that means that Clare Havens is up. She’s written a guest blog post that really raises some interesting questions. It’s been a pleasure to get to know Clare (thanks to Kate from Read 2 Review)
Clare is going to be giving away three (3) e-copies of her novel A Bella Street Mystery: The Secret Formula and is adding one (1) paperback copy to the expanding Grand Prize Pot.
Alright Clare, take it away!
Too scary for middle graders?
I recently had a very interesting discussion about my first book A Bella Street Mystery: The Secret Formula with one of the judges of a literary festival. In her introduction to my book, the judge told the audience that the book was truly terrifying. She was serious. She said that she had had to get out of bed to check the locks after she finished reading it as it had scared her so much! When a fan said there should be a movie made of my book, the judge said it would have to be rated MA and there should be a parental warning sticker on the book cover!
Now, I know we all have different tolerances for suspense and scary stories but I was genuinely surprised at this reaction. I know that the book is very fast-paced and suspenseful but it is in no way explicit or gory and I have always thought that was what young people (in this case aged between 8-13 — or 'Tween') like to read — I know I did. There's nothing like that tingle of fear running down your spine as you grip the pages of the book tighter and tighter, unable to put it down! There's nothing like the relief you feel when circumstances rectify themselves and the danger passes.
Children have relished suspense for generations!
Children have been relishing scary stories for generations. We have the dark stories of The Brothers Grimm, StruwwelPeter (apparently written for 3-6 year olds!), Hans Christian Andersen, most fairy tales… Everywhere you look there are wicked witches, evil Queens, children lured to their deaths or abandoned. Many of these stories are told to children too young to even read by themselves. Why should we feed middle graders sugary pap instead of the strong meat of thrilling writing?
Being thrilled is good for you!
There is even an argument that reading suspense is actually good for you. As your heart pounds and causes an adrenalin rush, you get a natural high and a great sense of relief. Pete Nelson, in WonderTime magazine quotes Susan Engel, a psychology lecturer and author of the book Real Kids: Creating Meaning in Everyday Life. "It's a chance to experience a really potent fantasy and almost live it, without any of the consequences. Part of the thrill is realizing it's not true
Without suspense books are dull!
Sam Leith wrote in the Guardian that if there is no danger in a book then nothing is at stake — a boring premise for a book, surely? To engage and identify with a character the reader has to care what happens to him/her. The character has to face a real dilemma or danger in order for us to be on their side.
What do you remember from books/movies from your childhood?
Sam also brought up the question 'what is it you remember from the things you read or watched as a child?' I always think of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz before I think of anything else in the movie. I think of the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang before I recollect the flying car. I remember so vividly the day my teacher read us Struwwelpeter in German — I can still see her claw-like hand movements as she mimed the cutting with her fingers — and that was a LONG time ago! I remember these things with a kind of delightful squirming sensation as if to say 'wasn't that terrifying? But wasn't it good?!'
I actually took the judge's remarks about my book as a huge compliment and I smiled to myself when I thought of the sequel I have written, Doc Gutson's Revenge which is perhaps even more suspenseful than The Secret Formula. As Sam Leith said in the Guardian piece — 'If it's not scary you're not doing it right.'
ã 2011 Clare Havens
So, I think it’s all personal preference, even know as an adult I don’t like to be scared, I don’t like to being thrilled to the point of racing heart and sweaty palms, but you know what, some people do. And when it comes to kids, though I think books should have a similar rating system as movies, I think that it really depends on the child, young adult or middle grade. Some people can handle thrills and chills better than others, and I don’t think we should limit their reading just because we don’t like it. I’m a big advocate in reading what keeps you interested. If books were all just fluffy bunnies and rainbows I think we’d lose even more young readers to video games and cartoons.
But, since I could go on, and on about this topic, I’ll step aside and get into introducing you too A Bella Street Mystery: The Secret Formula.
Beneath the bright lights of New York City, gangsters and criminals scurry about like cockroaches on a day-old pizza. The Gutson Gang has their sights set on stealing The Secret Formula for a perfume that makes the wearer irresistible. Doc Gutson, Johnny Sequins and Pauly Three Toes also want cold, hard revenge and will stop at nothing to get it. But standing in their way are Bella Street, a cool, skateboarding champ and tech genius Felix Samson, a wannabe detective. Can Bella and Felix stop the evil trio or will they end up in the East River wearing cement shoes?
How can you deny that this blurb sure pulls a reader in, I think it can grab the attention of anyone, young or old!
If you’re scared that’ll you’ll end up in a river with blocks of cement for shoes if you don’t read this book right now, you can find it on Amazon and at The Book Depository. If you like to live a little on the wild side, you can wait, and see if you win one of the three copies we are giving away—or the massive Grand Prize!
Clare can be found working on her latest novel, or if you’d rather stalk her on the net, you can get in touch with her at her website, on Facebook or Twitter.
Thank you so much Clare for stopping by, talking about being a little bit scared and sharing your wonderful novel with us!!
Are you coming to the party late? Did you miss yesterday’s giveaway? Have no fear! You can use the linky’s below and enter any day you've missed—you have until Christmas Eve to get your name in the draws as well as getting your entries submitted for the Grand Prize Giveaway!
And if you forgotten the rules--though I doubt you have--you can find them here.
Day One- Avery Olive
Day Two- Dan Wright
Day Three- Clare Marshall
Day Four- Hildie McQueen
Day Five- Read 2 Review
Day six- Griffin Hayes
Also, let’s not forget about my blog follower, extra giveaway... If I can get to 200 Followers by Christmas Eve I’ll be giving away a little extra something, something, for one of my blog followers!