Please join me in welcoming fellow author Mark Terry to my blog this morning. Mark is busy touring the blogoverse to promote his new adult novel, The Valley of Shadows, but in this guest blog he talks about books for the younger set and why he enjoys reading and writing them. You can find out more about Mark and his books at his website

Since Alissa so graciously agreed to host me during my blog tour, I can return the favor and at least not run my moth overmuch about the book I’m flogging, THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS, which is NOT YA or MG. In fact, I’m inclined to give it an R rating.

But I have written two novels aimed at the Middle Grade market, MONSTER SEEKER and THE BATTLE FOR ATLANTIS. I also have one that veers a little bit older, somewhere from older MG to YA coming out later this year called THE FORTRESS OF DIAMONDS.

Do I like reading and writing MG and YA novels?

As a matter of fact, yes, I do. Partly this is due to having two sons, one who is 13 and the other who is 17. I read them books when they were much younger and during the MG years I read a lot of them together, especially the Harry Potter novels, although as they grew I was introduced to Artemis Fowl and Alex Rider and numerous Star Wars novels. I was lucky enough to be able to introduce them to Percy Jackson because I had been reading Rick Riordan’s PI novels aimed at adults, and when I heard he was coming out with an MG novel called PERCY JACKSON AND THE LIGHTNING THIEF, I got hold of him and wrote a feature article about Rick and his book that ran in The Oakland Press. Man, I was ever so slightly ahead of the curve on that one. (And just so you know, Rick blurbed my first novel, DIRTY DEEDS).

One thing I like better about these books are the readers. Kids, for the most part, still think books are magic. They like them or they don’t. They don’t have all the baggage as readers that adults seem to bring to the reading experience (everyone’s a critic is a truism, and some of the criticism is just plain weird).

Although my novels aimed at adults are pretty much straightforward real-world thrillers, when I turn my attention to writing for kids, I make a shift into fantasy. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps when I was in that age group it was the predominant pleasure reading for me (probably true), and that part of my brain automatically shifts that way.

I know they’re a lot of fun to write. That doesn’t mean you can’t deal with some pretty tough things. In MONSTER SEEKER, the main character is a foster kid who’s been shunted from foster home to foster home, and escapes at night to explore Detroit and stay out of the house, when he is attacked by a Windigo and is rescued (sort of) by a professor at the Monster Seeker Academy, who recognizes Dan O’Malley’s natural talents and takes him to the school to be trained.

In THE BATTLE FOR ATLANTIS the main character is also an orphan being raised by a drunken uncle. He nearly drowns and is rescued by an apparent mermaid and taken to the undersea city of Kam’Loa, where he is tested to see if he is a demigod, son of one of the Hawaiian gods.

And in the upcoming THE FORTRESS OF DIAMONDS, I asked myself, “What if Indiana Jones had a daughter?” And Jericho Miles was born, a teenage girl searching for her missing father, who disappeared somewhere over Utah canyon country while searching for the fabled fortress of diamonds.

Ultimately it comes down to something that sounds like fun to write and read.

How about you? Do you adults have favorite MG and YA authors you read regularly?

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