One of the reactions I get from my books is something like: 'Yes, but your character is awfully young to do what you've got them doing.' That reaction is usually muted and subtle, as in: 'Well, I like the story, but...'
So, I tell those adults who have read my stories that I've based my youthful characters on real kids. Maybe kids I know today, or kids I grew up with, or, just perhaps, a tiny bit out of my own past. I also find, much more frequently than I expect, news stories about youthful characters, real ones, who are doing amazing things at young ages.
I have started to Tweet about those young people, when I spot a story that supports my point of view.
A 10-year-old who wrote a book to help other kids deal with their feelings when dealing with a personal tragedy. A 12-year-old running his own company (okay... I posted about him). A 13-year-old baseball player in the Baseball Hall of Fame (yes, I posted about her, too). The 13-year-old who climbed Mount Everest. 14, 15, and 16-year-olds sailing around the world. 14 and 15-year-olds who survive 50 days lost at sea drifting in an open 12-foot boat. A 16-year-old hero who risks his life to save a 10-year-old boy from a partially frozen, rapidly flowing river. The list goes on.
Ask any young person, and many of them will tell you what they could do, if only given a chance, if only the adults in their lives would let them and support them. The next question is: Do the adults support them? Or, perhaps, do the adults say something like, 'Oh, you'll have to wait to do that' or 'You really think you're ready for that?'
So, what's your point of view on this? Do you think I'm exaggerating? Do you think my youthful characters are doing too much, or am I feeding back what is really happening?
I absolutely and firmly believe my youthful characters are fully capable of the feats, successes and actions that I've put into my stories. I believe it because I know it. I hope you agree. If you don't, then I welcome the challenge. Do you agree?