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Shadow in the Sea

Readers will return to Windwaithe Island once again. When sixteen-year-old Sadelyn Hanson washes up on the shores of Windwaithe Island, her beauty and the strange marks on her wrist make superstitious locals suspect she is a mermaid. Feigning amnesia, Sade hides a far worse secret: she was sailing to her own murder trial when she was thrown overboard by the real killer, the cunning and cruel Captain Westwood.

Sade's quiet effort to rebuild her life on the island is threatened when she meets an actual young merman. Unable to speak his language, Sade still longs for the warm companionship he offers, despite the locals' dire legends about merfolk and their dark magic. But her confused feelings for the impossible boy become the least of her problems when Captain Westwood's ship docks at Windwaithe. With nowhere to escape, Sade must trust in the one person who doesn't fear the merfolk. A woman who had dealings with them herself—years ago

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Do Readers Want?

I presented at a science-fiction and fantasy writer's conference last weekend. I had such a great experience talking to all the up and coming authors. One of the presentations I gave covered some of the subjects in fiction that I see more of a need for. I wrote Forbidden Sea about a mermaid because several years ago there were very few mermaid books and lots of little girls asking for them at their local library. Since most of you who follow this blog are avid readers--I thought I would extend these questions to you.

What kinds of middle grade and young adult books do you wish there were more of? (example: mysteries, adventure stories, contemporary fiction, historical, etc.)

Are there any certain subjects (example: unicorns, giant evil robots, superheroes, pigs with wings, etc.) that you wish more children's authors would write books about?

This is your chance to speak to the authors of the world. What would you like to see more of? If you leave suggestions in comments, I might just pass them along in my next presentation to authors. Feel free to leave as many suggestions as you want!


Rebecca Herman said...

I would love to see more historical fiction and more high fantasy. I'm tired of 99% of fantasy novels having a modern setting.

Anonymous said...

This might sound cliché, but if you really stop and investigate, you might see what I mean:

I wish there were more fantasy books like The Hobbit (by J. R. R. Tolkien): i.e. a collection of adventures (with the start of it all not having a huge basis) that all lead up to something more, where each adventure seems complete somehow without melding into the others. I mean, you have the thing with the trolls. There's the goblins underground. There's the spiders. There's Gollum and the riddles. They're each a chapter, aptly named, and each chapter in and of itself is satisfying. It's not like you have to read five chapters before something happens (and keep track of what happened in the last chapter/s to appreciate the current one). I mean, the chapters actually mean something (rather than being arbitrary segmentation unless you take an abstract view of things).

I think books like that are really fun for kids. I don't know of too many of them these days.

I think for a lot of people it's annoying when characters focus on the plot and nothing else. Sure, they miss the comforts of home and all, but they seem far too distracted by their mini adventures to turn the book into a drama with all their personal issues about the big picture.

Some kids don't care too much about the big picture. They care about what's happening right now (or what happens on the journey), and if nothing that fun is happening until the climax of the book, then, that's a shame. They might never get to it. Not everyone cares if there's a climax, either, by the way. Not everyone knows what one is to look for it. I don't remember one in The Hobbit, except within each mini adventure (and that is important).

Sure, there are lots of books with adventures along some journey. Most of them that I've seen really are not using the same techniques, though. Usually, you'll see some of the aspects of what I mean in books for really young kids and some in books for adults—but The Hobbit mixes these (the happy medium for kids who aren't super young), while most of these other juvenile fiction adventures try to give adult drama and focus to children while simplifying the stuff kids like to be complex (i.e. the books have less things happening per page instead of more). I say, let the drama be stuff kids can and want to appreciate (dumb down the drama so even though the characters are in peril, and want to eat five more breakfasts than they're allowed, it still seems light-hearted; but, spruce up the intricacies, the new fantasy elements; keep making things happen, and keep making things new).

If you feel like you're reading something new every single page, then that's what I mean. The Hobbit is precisely like that. The Lord of the Rings is another story, however (but still good in its own right; not quite a children's fantasy, though).

Kids who are already avid readers might not need stuff like this, but I figure more of the sort will draw the interest of those who think reading is tedious or boring, and those with short attention spans. There's not much out there for them (let alone at their own reading level), and they're an enormous audience.

True, though, even The Hobbit isn't quite perfect at what I mean, but it's closer than just about everything else.

Anonymous said...

There's magic in the mystery.

There have been several times where I've been reading a book and loving it. There's some mysterious magical thing going on, and suddenly, the author reveals everything on a silver platter. There's no more mystery. There's no more magic. It's suddenly a different book with a completely different focus. It makes me sad, and like I want the book to end right before that point. I'd like to see more books that don't do this.

I'm fine with the sequels doing it (so long as they do it first thing like The Lord of the Rings did with the invisibility ring in The Hobbit). Mysteries are kind of like the hidden climax, after all, as they unfold (only they shouldn't fall halfway, or even at all). I don't think finding out the mystery should be the plot (but rather, experiencing it).

I hope this is somehow useful.

Wendi said...

After talking to my kids about what is available in the school library. They like action packed books such as Percy Jackson,and Fablehaven. They would like to suggest more Dragons and Unicorn books.
I love the ones with mythology and real historical information written way where young kids can understand what has gone on in history. After reading books with history or mythology my kids have wanted to learn more about these subjects. But for fun they would love to see more Dragons and Unicorns showing up in fantasy books.

Rain Coyote said...

What I like in a story, adult or children's, is good character development. I like an element of mystery, of humour, and I like scary too. Animals are always a plus. Adventure is also a plus.

I think we need some more good animal adventures, like Redwall and the Mistmantle Chronicles, where anthropomorphic animals are the main characters. And not just mice and squirrels as the heroes, we need bigger animals too, methinks.

Anastasia B. said...

i think we need a new kind of magical book that takes you to new worlds and has new magical animals and pepole that are different from the norm that change are thinking and concept of magic and its properties

Kayla said...

Personally, I would love to see something done with Tall Tales. Our country has some rich stories and fables that I want to see done in a more fleshed-out retelling.

I am also a huge fan of mysteries that leave you guessing right up to the last second.

I've noticed that there isn't a lot of middle grade sci-fi either.

But really what we need is more books with your name on them! I can't wait for your next books!

Tonya C. said...

Hannah B. said...

I agree with Rebecca, modern fairy tales are not my thing. Although, I did enjoy the book 'Once Upon A Marigold' and it's sequel 'Twice Upon A Marigold' because those stories were set in castle times but had funny modern puns/jokes throughout, like the sayings, and such. It reminded me of the movie Ella Enchanted.

I never like those stories that don't have an ending, what I mean authors who KNOW they will be publishing a few other books and leave you hanging at the end of the first one! My favorite kind of series is the ones that have endings, you could read one book and not know that there would be a second, or third, like Sheila's book! I'm sure I could think of more to say here... maybe I can post it later. Thank you for letting us express our opinions here! -Hannah

Amber Argyle said...

Hey Sheila,
Would you mind sending me your list of books for young readers. I gave it to my son and he promptly lost it.

Becky B. said...

I would love to see more easy readers that are age appropriate. Why are we forcing 6 year old boys who are into transformers and spiderman read books about clowns and kittens? I'd also love to see more easy reading non-fiction.

As far as for my teens, they really enjoy science fiction and fantasy. It seems there are always plenty of choices and new ones coming all the time. What I'd love to see is more fantasy books with truly unique ideas. Enough with the wizards and dragons. Enough with the normal boy who discovers he has a magic power/special calling and is sucked into secret world against his will to battle evil with two sidekicks (one funny one, one smart one).

Anonymous said...

I was probably one of those little girls!!!!
Love the book

(c) 2010 Sheila A. Nielson

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