I wrote THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING UP because I wanted to write a book that young boy readers would love. And, as I well know, there is nothing that young boys love to do more than laugh. Therefore, first and foremost, I really wanted to dig my writing heels in and go for, as the say nowadays, an LOL reading experience.
Of course personally, I love to laugh. However, I also feel that a lot of what people peddle as “comedy” in young adult books today is lukewarm at best. Me, I wanted to go for “spitting milk out of your nose funny”. So far, the reaction has been pretty good and while I can’t promise that everyone is going to find the book riotous, I can tell you that I laughed my rear-end off while writing it. Truly, I never laughed so hard in my professional writing life. To me this is significant because as author, I always believe I am the first audience. To paraphrase something Robert Frost once said, “I am the first crier and if my work doesn’t bring my own eyes to tears, why in the world should I expect it to have any sort of impact of the such on others?” This is true of me as well. If milk isn’t spitting out of my own nose then why would it ever spray through the nostrils of anyone else?
The teacher side of me, though, also knows a heck of lot about the critical relationship between literacy skills and academic achievement and life success. Especially, for young boys in this day and age. It can be argued – and it has – that we are raising a generation of non-readers, the implications of which are already proving to be calamitous for today’s young men. Well, the only way to elevate a young person’s reading skills is by getting them to read. And kids today, boys, will read if they are provided reading material which “speaks” to them in some meaningful way.
A comedy which sympathizes with a universal tragedy through which we all suffer, has always felt to me like a solid project on which I ought to hang my hat. THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING UP is a book that can hopefully be used as a tool to not only convert young male readers from skeptics who “don’t like to read” into “fans of reading as long as they are given a ‘good’ book”. As the old saying goes, if you build it they will come. This I believe to be true… but somebody’s gotta build it. And so I’ve tried in my own small way.
FYI, it’s a champagne day. A novel I started almost 3 years ago is officially out today.