Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Why I Write for Teens: a guest post by Rachel Harris


People say high school is the best time of your life. Those same people say the exact same thing when you leave for college. In some ways, I disagree with that generalization. While I met my husband in college, it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I got married and then had my babies. In my early thirties, I became a published author. And I’ve met so many of my literary heroes since then. Those events shaped the woman I am today and are hands down the best moments in my life. 
But in so many other ways, the many small ways that add up to be so important, I totally get what “they” mean.

The high school years are all about firsts. First love, first heartbreak, first taste of freedom. You push the boundaries of your relationships, both with your family and with your friends, and you explore. You make a bazillion mistakes, but while they totally seem monumental at the time, very few of them have permanent consequences. As for college, that’s all about discovery. You build upon what you began in high school, you narrow down your likes and interests, you experiment, and you find out who you truly are. 
For me, high school gave me a safe environment to test the waters, to step outside my box and see what would happen. I had my first real boyfriend and many others to follow. I went to countless school dances, some with boys, some with friends, some that ended well, and one that ended horribly bad. I went to class and even skipped once to go to an Alanis Morissette concert—though I had parental permission, which severely detracts from the cool factor. I had good friendships…and some not so good ones. I learned from it all. 
College was where I finally admitted what I wanted to do with my life, and I shed my shy exterior to join student media. I found myself there, hanging out in the buildings late at night, going over footage for the television shows I hosted and produced, and chatting with the radio DJs on air because it was all one big party. I went to class, narrowed things down, realized what true friendship looked like, and fell in love. 

All of those experiences are still with me today. A decade later, I can close my eyes and remember every detail of my first real heartbreak. The first person my age who had their life taken way too young. Every song that came on the radio, and how I felt when I first heard it. The songs are different today—unless you listen to the oldies channels, which, by the way, when did I get so old that my music was oldies??—but the heart of the lyrics, the experiences they speak to, are the same.

Perhaps the better question would be: Why not write about this time? 

The young adult market is flooded with amazing, talented authors. Readers are enthusiastic and plugged into social media so they can let you know how much they loved—or perhaps hated—your book. They interact with their favorite authors on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Goodreads, and that enthusiasm is crazy contagious. It wraps me up and makes me feel young again, too. School visits are a blast (although it still freaks me out being allowed in teacher only areas *grin*), and conferences take on a new energy. 

Even though so much has changed since I was a teenager (technology anyone?), when I go to events and when I speak with readers, I realize it really hasn’t. The feelings remain the same. The questioning, the newness, the devastation…it’s an emotional roller coaster, but one that you spend your adult years reliving over and over again. The joy and the misery. I get to re-read my diary, pull out my memories, and rehash them all, and I get to call it research 😉 

You can meet Rachel Harris Sunday, November 17th at 3:30 PM at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas.

About Rachel Harris
Rachel Harris grew up in New Orleans, watching soap operas with her grandmother, and staying up  late sneak-reading her mama’s romance novels. Today, she still stays up late reading romances, only now she does so openly. Rachel is the author of two novels for Young Adults from Entangled Publishing, My Super Sweet Sixteen and A Tale of Two Centuries.
Rachel online and on Twitter