When I started writing my newest middle grade, “Will, Middle Name Trouble,” I had already spent lots of time with my character. He had been in my head for awhile, keeping me awake at night or tagging along when I went for my daily run.
I knew that Will was naughty but that he was also good. He acted out a lot in school because it made kids laugh and he got some attention, something he didn’t get at home. At home, he had to watch his 4-year-old twin sisters at night while his mom cleaned office buildings to pay the bills. His dad had fallen in love with the bottle and took off when Will was 6 and the twins were newborns.
So it was Will who had to make his sisters dinner every night and read “Cinderella” to them over and over (it was their favorite book) and tuck them in bed. Will had the kind of responsibility that no 10-year-old should have. And yet Will survived and grew.
I didn’t realize all of the twists and turns Will would take me on during our journey together. And, I admit that he surprised me a couple of times. And when I wrote the last line, I blinked to keep tears at bay. I realized just how far Will, and the others, had come. And that it wasn't really the ending but the beginning for Will.
The beginning of my newest middle grade:
“Betcha a buck you won’t say it to Mr. Mock,” said Fuzz, wiping his snotty nose on his red baseball shirt.
“You’re gross, dude. Ever hear of tissues? They’re those white things sticking out of that blue box on Mock’s desk. You oughta try using one sometime. Your shirt looks like it’s been slimed by a slug.”
I licked my lips. “You’re right. We all have choices. And I’ve finally learned that it’s the choices we make that determine what kind of person we become. Me? I don’t want to be like my dad. I want to be better than that.”
“You already are,” Bo said.