I spent a good bit of time after my deal with Scholastic obsessively checking Publisher's Marketplace and Publisher's Weekly to see the listing for it. After so much time looking at other folk's deals I couldn't wait to see my own there. When it finally happened it was just as awesome as I expected.
Except for one thing.
I scanned the list of deal that were made around the same time as mine and all I could think was....is everybody in the entire world writing a post-apocalyptic novel?
I swear, nearly every title in the deal report the day I read it contained some formulation of the words post-apocalyptic or dystopia. Now, I knew the whole post-apocalyptic thing has been a bit of a trend for the last year or so but seeing it so starkly was amazing. The thing is I (just like every other writer on that list) started writing my book way before this hit as a trend. I stared mine in 2006!
So if none of us are trend followers then what the heck is going on? Why are so many writers, independent of each other, writing stories like this and why are people so interested in reading them? Specifically why are kids interested in reading them?
Well I can only theorize why kids are reading them (which I'll do in a minute) but here's what led me to write mine....
I was thinking about the Gordian Knot. You know the story. Alexander the Great comes to Gordium and finds a knot so complex he can't untie it. His solution? Chop it in half with his sword. Knot undone. Problem solved. I think our world right now feels alot like that knot--mind bogglingly complex and so tangled with competing ideologies and interests that the whole thing has ground to a halt and become completely useless. Sometimes it feels like the only solution, the only way we'll ever be able to move forward again, is to tear it down and start all over. I mean, who doesn't have a fantasy of a simpler and quieter time? A time when we lived closer to nature, closer to each other, closer to our own necessity. I think that idea, the idea of being able to hit the reset button on a too complicated world, is what drew me to writing a book like this.
Now, why do kids want to read this stuff? Well partially I think for the reasons above. They live in the same world that we do; they're not blind. But I also think that when you're moving through your teens years your life is a constant upending of everything you know. Like many writers, I spent my early teen years as an impenetrably shy loner. I ate alone. I had no friends. I had no direction. But then one day I wandered into my High School's theater when auditions were going on and for some reason I got up on that stage and BAM! For the first time in my life I was good at something! And so much followed that: friends, a workable sense of humor, better grades, girls that were actually willing to talk to me. If this wasn't the end of one world and the beginning of a new one I don't know what was.
And it seems like when you're a teen so many events in your life are like that, right? Relatively small moments that somehow produce huge transformations. You go from Junior High to High School. You fall in love. You get dumped. You get your driver's license. You have sex. You discover The Clash. One little adjustment and everything changes. Over and over you're saying goodbye to one world and hello to another. Didn't it feel like that? So monumental? We laugh at it now, all the drama, but add years of near constant transformative change to a set of raging hormones and a evolving sense of self and no wonder every little thing felt like the end of the world. Of course our teens years felt monumental. They were monumental.
So I think when teens read a story about the end of the world maybe they connect to it because they live their lives on the precipice of one radical transformation or another. They get the grandeur of it, the angst and fear and possibility of it. I think maybe teens read this stuff simply because the end of the world makes sense to them. To them it's something that happens every day. I know it did to me.
So what do you all think? Why is this a trend now and what do you think of it?