Monday, July 18, 2011
Guest Post: Tales of a MG Writer
Hi everyone. My name is Sarvenaz Tash and I’m an MG writer…by which I mean that
My huge caveat is that I, of course, am in no way an expert in all things MG. I just write them! So here are some answers to FAQs from my perspective.
Why do you write MG?
The sentimental reasons can be found on a post that I did on my blog here. But the practical reason is that the protagonists that have been popping into my head lately are between 10 and 13-years-old.
I’m very much a character-driven writer and it’s really as simple as that. The stories are kid-friendly and the protagonists are the right age for the genre. And I always let
the story dictate the genre, not the other way around.
Do you worry about language and vocabulary?
No. Well, I obviously can’t have any cursing in MG, so, sometimes, I have to think a
little harder for creative ways around that. But as for vocabulary that’s too difficult,
no, I don’t think about that as I’m writing the story.
I’ll write the first few drafts out exactly as I need and then, at times, my editor will
ask me to take out a few words because they may be too adult or too big. But, in
general, I’m not writing books for early readers (whose main purpose is to teach
reading and vocabulary) and I’m a firm believer in kids learning vocabulary through
context. In fact, English is my second language and I learned most of my vocabulary
What are the trends you foresee in MG?
I think I might be a terrible person to answer this question because I really don’t
think in terms of trends; again, I let the story drive what I’m writing.
That being said, my book is a humorous adventure story. I think those two things
always do well in MG. Then again, I know plenty of MG debut authors whose books
are in all sorts of genres: historical verse (May B. by Caroline Starr Rose), mystery
(Kristen Kittscher), contemporary (One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullally Hunt).
In my opinion, the whole point of fiction is to lose yourself in a fresh voice, or
setting, or character. I think trends are sort of irrelevant.
Do you think it was harder to land your agent or sell your book because it was
I don’t know. I went out on submission with two MG books. One sold and one didn’t.
I’ve never been on submission with a YA book, so I have nothing really to compare it
to. But even if I did, I don’t think it would matter.
Being out on submission with anything is such a subjective thing. You never know
when your manuscript is going to land across someone’s desk who just happens to
have been looking for that very idea to fill out their list.
In my extremely non-expert and clichéd opinion, I don’t think it matters so much
whether its YA or MG or anything else. It’s the story that has to catch the agent and
I will add this: it’s true that I see many less 2012 debut MG writers than YA writers.
But that has both positive and negative aspects to it. Just think of it as, if you
sell your MG book, you’ll probably have less competition for shelf space at the
Any other thoughts on writing MG vs. YA?
The aspect I’m trying to figure out at the moment is marketing MG vs. marketing YA.
With YA, authors can really reach their audience directly. But with MG, authors—
I think—should more likely gear their marketing efforts to the gatekeepers: the
librarians, teachers and parents who are making the book-buying decisions.
I’m sure I’ll figure it out though and continue to learn from this crazy but wonderful
One final thing I can say is that I’m extremely happy that my debut book is MG. That
book was the story I wanted to tell.
I hope this was somewhat useful! If anyone has any other questions I can answer,
please feel free to leave them in the comments section. Thanks so much for having
And thank you, Sarv!