I’ve heard back from three out of four of my beta readers. I’ve made some suggested revisions. The last reader is my most formidable (plus she’s my mother). I am nervous. I am nervous because the YA I just completed is pretty depressing. Gritty. Realistic. A bunch of those other (stupid) adjectives that people use when talking about teenagers and unsettling subjects. I pulled from a lot of different places to write this book. Some memories, some experiences, mostly made-up stuff. Painful to write. Hard. It might make my mum sad. Actually I hope it does because it is a sad tale about two friends and what happens when it goes wrong. But I also want her to be left with some sense that the friendship was special and magical and important, and that there is hope at the end. I don’t know. When I think about the book, I feel sick. When I think about sending it to my agent at the end of the week, I feel sicker. I want him to love it, like he loved my last book. Because finding a publisher might be harder with this one. A teenage girl was one of my betas. She is almost 17. The characters are 17, almost 18. She was not shocked. She loved the two main girl characters. She accepted their world even though it is different from her own. My husband said “the teenage experience is pretty much the same for everyone, whether they’re a jock or a punk rocker.” I guess only the details change. There are edgy books out there. Great, great books which deal with subjects that adults find uncomfortable, that adults find the thought of their children reading uncomfortable. John Green’s books (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns), Ellen Hopkins (Burned, Crank, Glass-basically everything she writes plus it’s verse!), Laurie Halse Andersen (WinterGirls, Chains, Speak), Cheryl Rainfield’s Scars. When I was 12, I read The Godfather, Henry Miller, and a lot of Pasolini because that’s what was on my father’s bookshelves. I read those books when I was ready to read them, when curiosity led me to open them up, and because YA as a genre didn’t exist then. I read at the level I was emotionally mature enough to handle. Some things I skipped over. Nothing gave me nightmares. I asked some questions. Anyway, I’m hoping that the queasy tummy I feel, is due to digging deep and outside my personal comfort level. And not because I wrote a bad book.