I read an article once on the TV sitcom Friends as a family comedy. The argument went that most sitcoms are about a family unit. It’s just that in some examples, the main characters are surrounded by a surrogate family--friends or co-workers--that fulfills the function of a family. I think that’s the way I write a lot of my YA books. When you’re a teen, your friends aren’t more important than your family, but that’s often what it feels like, and you’re almost certainly spending more time with your friends than with your family. If friends are so important in a novel, parents fade into the background because there’s not enough room for them. If absolutely everyone is an important character, “important” doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Endless Summer was different. It’s actually two books in one volume--The Boys Next Door and the sequel, Endless Summer--so I had more room and more plot to play with. In the books, Lori and her brother have lived next door to brothers Adam, Sean, and Cameron for as long as they can remember. Lori has a crush on Sean. Adam has a crush on Lori. As the love triangle turns ugly, the other brothers get involved. And then the parents get involved, because that’s what would happen if you’d lived next door to each other for that long.
Even though I’ve written a lot of novels that focused on teens as characters with parents in the background, I found it easy to write fully formed parent characters for once--and the reason, I think, is that I am a parent now. I remember what it was like to be a teenager, and I empathize with everything Lori and the other teens do. But I also empathize with Lori's dad and Adam’s mom, and though I might not parent this way myself, I understand the draconian-seeming punishments they hand down to keep their children out of (more) trouble.
|My lake this weekend!|