Balancing Humor and Trauma in Middle Grade Fiction

My guest column for Writers Digest

Here’s the link

Begin excerpt:

The problem of evil is never far from my mind when I write a middle-grade novel. Yes, I know how grandiose that sounds. But consider the protagonists. They’re characters in the process of becoming moral agents; their consciences are quickening into their final forms. Middle-grade fiction is, as far as I’m concerned, a genre of soul-testing. (A reviewer called one of my earlier novels “Dostoevsky for kids,” which I like a lot.) One of the milestones in our moral growth is when we start doing the right thing because it’s the right thing—rather than because we may get punished if we don’t. Regardless of the particulars of plot, for me, that’s the main drama in writing about tweens.