The Travelers, my first published novel, falls into the young adult (YA) genre of fantasy/paranormal/sword and sorcery. (I never realized so many genres and sub-genres of YA existed!) People often ask me what inspired me to write for young adults. I had several reasons. For one, young adults seem to actually read books. More importantly, they are more open to ideas and exploration of truths. I wanted to write a book that was fun and exciting. But, I also wanted it to be more than just a book about two teens who fall in love and overcome obstacles. I wanted it to say something, maybe even teach something.
“When you teach hate from the bottle, it’s hard to make change.”
When I wrote The Travelers, I took inspiration from places like Northern Virginia, my family, my travels (pun intended) and also from my experiences. However, inspiration for the overarching theme of the book came from one singular place. A close friend of mine once said to me something along these lines, “When you teach hate from the bottle, it’s hard to make change.”
It may be hard, but it’s not impossible. So, I decided to write a book about two people taught to hate each other. Then, I made those characters question that hatred. And then, I had them fight back against it.
“Let me make sure I have this right. You want to kill people just because some dream and an old book say so?” I said. “That is nuts.” – Marc, The Travelers
Inspiration from Inspiration
I hoped this theme would, in turn, help inspire the next generation to rethink negative ideas and learn the truth for themselves. As I tell my own daughter, here is the information I have. Here is what I think. Now, go out, question, learn, understand, sympathize, empathize. Read books that show you the life and trials of others. Then decide for yourself. She’s only 11-years-old and this is a hard concept. She’s not allowed to wander around the internet in search of information or read any book she wants. But, I already see the seeds of questioning. I see her gaining the skill of thoughtfulness. She is why I wanted to write a story for young adults. She is my inspiration every day in life.
In The Travelers, I wanted to show that people can question and fight against the hatred taught to them, no matter the source. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I definitely tried. And, I will keep trying. Today, it feels more important than ever for that message to be heard. You don’t have to hate because your parents or friends hate. You don’t have to believe in something because everyone else around you seems to believe it. You don’t have to be quiet about it either. Young adults are the future. You can make real change now. Don’t believe me? Check out these books for some inspiration.
- I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines – by Paul Fleischman
Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters – by Laurie Ann Thompson