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Discuss the March 2015 book of the month, "Forever Twelve" by Meg Kimball.
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zeldas_lullaby
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 08 Apr 2015, 19:21

Q and A with the author! Ask me anything about reading, writing, my book, etc. What fun! If you're confused or uncertain about any aspect of Forever Twelve, now would be a great time to throw it at me. Thank you! :mrgreen:

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Scott
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Post by Scott » 10 Apr 2015, 14:32

I will start.

In addition to reading through the discussions on this very website for the book of the month, I am sure that as the author of Forever Twelve you have spoken to many people who have read your book. I think all artists have certain themes and ideas they meant to get across with their work that for whatever reason don't seem to be picked up by the readers. What intentions or themes or ideas did you expect readers to notice that seemed to be most often missed?
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid

zeldas_lullaby
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 10 Apr 2015, 21:17

Well, thank you for asking. Everyone definitely caught the themes about relationships, family, good adults in the picture, helping other people, and such. It was even surprising to me to hear so many people say that there aren't enough books with adult role models. (Maybe I don't read much!!) I do kind of realize this, now that I think about it--a lot of people have likened my series to the Babysitters Club, and as I recall, the adults in that series were relegated to the background. It's almost as though they were meant to blend in, I guess so that the teens could solve all their problems on their own(?).

While it's great for kids to solve their own problems, I guess that shouldn't always be necessary, so I'm glad that people appreciated my inclusion of adult role models! I didn't intend for them to come off as over-the-top, but I can see how they would be considered so. The character of Patricia Lawrence, Corey's mom, is definitely too nice to be believed. I can't sit here and deny that. HA HA. I don't know how much she's my fantasy mother, vs. how much she's the mother I'd want to be. (I have no children.) I can't imagine, though, being as good a mother as she is. I really can't. I am always fatigued due to health issues, for one thing, although I'm her exact age (as of the 2013 calendar this series follows). I struggle to understand how anyone raises a kid, much less does it well. In her case, though, the reason she's such a good mom is that she did some major soul-searching after her husband died. Like, major. And she thought about her overly-critical mom, and about what her dead husband would want for their daughter, and what she didn't get from her own childhood, and she really took one for the team. Real Mom-of-the-Year material, that.

I was dejected that no one seemed to notice the spiritual aspects of my book: the conversation Corey had with her dad, her dreams, Andi's dream at the retreat, Corey's awakened awareness in the locker room after hearing the music, etc.

Actually, you're wrong, Scott. I haven't spoken to too many people who've read my book! I saw my aunt a few months ago, and she said, "Great book! I read it in two days." And I said, "Thanks!" And that was the entirety of the conversation. My parents have read my books (they're my parents--I make them): both were scandalized by the pregnancy theme, and my mom was afraid that my storyline about "stinky finger" at the start of part 4 was going to go somewhere inappropriate. (Yep, these are my parents...) And I was like, "It was a fake letter! Where can you go with that? The writer wasn't serious in his question about his stinky finger!!!"

(My mom has no sense of humor. I'm always telling her that somewhere deep inside, she has a small part of herself which houses an even smaller part of herself, that houses a minuscule sense of humor. But she doesn't believe me. I don't really believe it either, but it seems more tactful than telling her to quit being so serious all the time.)

It wasn't my intention for the adults to seem like Nickelodeon adults: flaky and unaware, like the big brother on iCarly (the last Nickelodeon show I've seen). My philosophizing is that as we grow older, we become more distinct as people. Teenagers want to fit in and belong. But when you become an adult, your true nature comes out. The principal is a grouch because he's stressed all the time. The English teacher is spacey because she's not very organized. The librarian? Total psycho. HA HA HA HA. I regret if they came across like caricatures. I think that in general, to successfully work with twelve years olds, in the school system or whatever, you have to have a strong personality or you won't cut it.

I had a theme in there too about guilt, and I don't think anyone commented on it. The mom's talking about the guilt of the drunk driver and Andi's dream on the retreat both deal with guilt.

Corey is indeed virtuous for a twelve-year-old. My thinking on that is that she's always been treated in a gentle and loving manner. Yeah, her dad is dead, but if you compare that to the trauma in Andi's past, with her mother's embarrassing her, and her semi-abandonment issues and feelings of guilt for her mom's problems, like it's her fault her mom drinks (maybe that's more in the sequel, but it's true), then you have to see that Corey is "untouched" more or less by any serious neuroses. Also, she just has a good soul.

Thanks for asking, Scott!!

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