Sunday 8 February 2015

Why I Write Middle Grade by Jason Rohan

Because I have kids. There. Done. Finished.

Okay, it’s not that simple. It never is. When I first sat down to write a book, six years ago, I had a story in my head that I’d first plotted back in 1989, whilst I was in university. I figured that if the story was still with me after 20 years, then it needed to be written down, if only to exorcise that particular shade.

Eighteen months and 144,000 words later, lo and behold, my epic fantasy novel was born. It had been a mammoth undertaking, what with a full time job and family commitments, but I’d learned so much in the process and, more importantly, had taken my writing skills from the equivalent of a flabby, pallid slob passed out on the sofa clutching an empty Pringles can to a well-oiled, lean, mean fighting machine. No joke, I could feel the rust falling off my creative cogs as I worked.

My first imaginary world looked a bit like this
Then reality stopped by and bludgeoned me with my own opus. No-one is going to buy a doorstep novel from a first time writer. Shelf space is valuable real estate and you haven’t earned the right to sully those shelves. Those were the messages I received as I looked into publishing and I was pretty drained after writing that book, so I benched it. I locked it away like a Tudor prisoner and left it to languish.

But, having gone to all that trouble to reclaim my writing skills, I was reluctant to let them slide again so I started a new story. All along, my children had been watching me chip away at the big ‘un and they knew that Dad was writing a book so they kept asking when I would write them a story, one they could read, since the first one, they knew, was for older readers. Well, now was the time.

I wanted a complete break from horses and armour and bone-crunching battles so I went with a contemporary thriller, sort of Thunderbirds meets Die Hard with kids thrown in. Having eager readers waiting for each instalment meant I had to write quickly, leanly and in concentrated doses. Needless to say, I loved it. Where before I felt compelled to describe the world I was creating in detail, now I could literally cut to the chase.

Inspiration for my second book!
Writing for my kids and, by extension, for children everywhere gives me so much freedom in which to play. You tell a child there’s a talking dog, they might ask you which breed it is. An adult, however, is likely to ridicule the premise.

The application of imagination is such an undervalued exercise these days, yet it is the paucity of creativity that leads to so many problems; we see the same old faces applying the same failed remedies. In writing for Middle Grade I am free to let my own fancies fly but also to inspire the next generation of thinkers and problem-solvers. Why would I want to write for anyone else?


  1. Great post, Jason. I should be freaked out by how much of this I agree with, but then I shouldn't be surprised, should I? Bro.

  2. Only our mother can tell us apart!