“Parents beware!” One of my critics on Amazon warns parents of the intensity of my Green Ember kids stories. She’s not altogether wrong, and I am kind of sympathetic. My stories are dangerous. But I think she mistakes me for an enemy, when I’m an ally—an ardent one.
I think writing violent and foul stories for edginess—to push boundaries for the sake of rebellious relish—is not only morally bad, it’s also super lame. The modern transgressive fad in art is revealed to be not very modern at all, but old as the serpent’s lies in the garden. It’s also boring. Rebellion is so tediously establishment now, and I believe the true dissidents today are bravely creating in orthodox enclaves.
I don’t set out to shock or cross useful lines set up to protect innocent kids. I have a far more subversive aim. I want to invite kids into a vicarious encounter with Reality—monsters and all—that will serve them as they grow in virtue and wisdom. That, today, is radical.
My books are not overly grotesque and very tastefully deal with battle scenes and the sad deaths that sometimes occur. The adventures are full of humor, love, and an inspirational hope for a Mending. They are, I have been told by tens of thousands of parents, beautiful and good. They are also very dangerous.
I’m always keen to take my young readers seriously and to honor them by not patting them on the head and telling them nothing can ever hurt them. That’s a lie. And they know it’s a lie and stories that lie to them about reality are, in my view, far more dangerous than old fashioned good-vs-evil adventures where the stakes are high and the villains are monsters.
I write stories for courageous kids who know that dragons are real, that they are evil, and that they must be defeated.
I don’t do that because I want to hurt children, but because children do and will face hurts every day. I don’t want to expose them to evil, I want to help them become people for whom evil is an enemy to exposed. I want to tell them dangerous stories so that they themselves will become dangerous—dangerous to the darkness.
That’s why my stories are full of light and life and hope. They are about keeping faith in the midst of chaos. They are not safe, but they are good. Good and dangerous.
I hope you like sword fights.