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Posts Tagged ‘Ripley Patton’

Thanks to author Ripley Patton for stopping by and talking about the dark subjects that are often a part of Young Adult books.

Dabbling in the Dark: Addressing difficult issues in YA literature by Ripley Patton

Ripley's author photo “Even though my first young adult book, Ghost Hand, is a paranormal thriller, it still touches on some of the real issues confronting teens today; loss of a parent, feeling like the outcast, dysfunctional families, body image, cutting, and, in general, the dark hurts that lurk inside of each of us.

I’ve heard people complain that YA literature has become too dark. They ask, ‘Why all this gloom, and death, and monster stuff?’ But the truth is stories for children crossing into adulthood (ie fairy tales) have traditionally had a very dark slant, and this well may have been a way of preparing them for the fearful truths of the adult world. Story is a way of giving us a road map to reality.

What I have found is that most modern teens already know that adult world. They’re dabbling in it, or they’ve been forced to live in it long ago, perhaps long before they should have. They are seeking books that touch on the very things they are struggling with or experiencing. So, it bothers me when people try to censor what constitutes YA, or say kids of a certain age shouldn’t be reading work that is dark. If those dark things are happening to kids in the real world, shouldn’t we be empowering them to process that through the amazing meaning-making tool of literature?

Now, I don’t think that you can just toss harsh, dark stuff into a story along with some teenagers and say ‘Viola! I wrote good YA literature.’ I think there are some guidelines, and there is certainly a responsibility we have to our readers.

For example, I once read a YA book where the main character, a girl, violently beat her boyfriend around the face because he wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to know. These two characters were supposed to be in love, and I think perhaps the author was trying to make a statement about domestic violence, and how it can cut both ways. I’m not sure what the point was because the author just left it at that. The girl beat the boy, and later on they made up, and no one ever said anything about it again. The girl didn’t even apologize. When I finished this book, I found myself very upset at the author. Yes, violence like that happens in the real world without any purpose, and teens are certainly experiencing it, but her job as an author, I think, is to give that occurrence meaning in the book and some resolution in the reader’s heart. At the very least, I would have liked to see a character speak to the injustice and wrongness of beating someone you love around the face in a rage. I would have liked her to show how that breaks trust and damages relationship. Because our books are our voices, and I hope those are the kind of things they’ll say to young people.

Ghost Hand cover But it isn’t always easy to say the right things, or even know what the best things are to say with our writerly voices. For example, in the second book of The PSS Chronicles, the one I’m working on now, there are guns. Under-age teenagers wielding guns. And given the recent violent shootings, and the social outcry both for and against gun control, I found myself very uncomfortable when my characters began to take up arms. I actually stopped writing for a while and tried to figure out something else for them to do. But no, they wanted and needed guns for the plot to move forward. So, I decided to let my characters express the very struggle I was having. I gave them that voice. I let them hash out between themselves the issue, with some adamantly against guns and the escalation of violence and others strongly for that means of self-protection. Perhaps, I even needed to write this into my book because it is so in the forefront at the moment. It is something America is dealing with, and so am I, and so are our teens.

I’m not saying that an author or their characters should be preachy. I’m not saying they should say ‘This is right. And this is wrong,’ because, let’s face it, most issues have multiple sides and are more gray than black and white. But I do think we, as authors, should let our characters ask the hard questions. They should do more than act. They should think. And hope. And feel. They should process the very issues we are facing so we can face them together.

This is the magic of reading, of literature and fiction, and why we should never shrink away from the really hard, dark issues.

Because when we read, we are no longer alone.”

To read more about Ripley visit her website: http://www.ripleypatton.com/  Ghost Hand is available on Amazon.  You can also find Ripley on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerripleypatton  Twitter: @rippatton and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4340243.Ripley_Patton

Thanks again to Ripley Patton for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and my new feature, Readers & Writers Recipes. – Vonnie

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This fancy-looking and delicious bundt cake is easy to make, because it begins with a prepared cake mix. Chocolate-lovers and fans of “black-bottom cupcakes” will especially enjoy it. Like last week’s Over-Night Shrimp Dip, Easy Fudge Ribbon Cake works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together or any other fun gathering.

Easy Fudge Ribbon Cake

1) Preheat oven to 350° F.

2) Grease & flour a 10” bundt cake pan. (Or spray pan generously with a vegetable-based cooking spray)

3) Make cake.

For cake:

1 package chocolate cake mix (2 layer size).

Ingredients listed on back of box for preparation of the cake mix.

Directions: Make cake according to directions on package. Pour into a prepared bundt cake pan.

4) Make filling.

For filling:

1- 8-ounce package of creamed cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons softened margarine (or butter)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1- 14-ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: In a small bowl, beat creamed cheese, margarine, and cornstarch until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour the creamy mixture evenly on top of cake batter.

5) Bake for 50-55 minutes.

6) Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack.

7) Make glaze.

For glaze:

2 Tablespoons softened margarine (or butter)

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Cup confectionery sugar

2 Tablespoons boiling water

Directions: Mix ingredients together, then beat until smooth.

8) Place cake on serving plate and glaze, beginning at the top and letting the chocolate dribble down the sides. Serve.

Notes: Seriously, no one will imagine you used a boxed cake mix. I’ve had more requests for this cake recipe after I’ve served it than any other. – Vonnie

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a “dark” guest post from author Ripley Patton.

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