Should we scare them? Yes, yes, and yes again!

I’m a bit of a come-late-to-the-party sort of guy when it comes to hot internet topics, even when they concern yours truly.  A week or so ago, there was some chatter on KT Literary regarding how bad to make the bad guys in children’s fiction.  Apparently this was sparked by a very friendly review of POWERLESS that nevertheless asked the question whether or not the antagonist of that book was a bit too evil.  I assume the reviewer shares the same concern that parents have everywhere (myself included) about scaring the little ones.  It was an interesting discussion that happened over there, and if you have the time I suggest you go take a look.

As for the question at the heart of the debate – I say scare them.  Scare them good.

YA literature is allowed to be scary (or not – golden sparkly vampires?) but folks seem to want to soften the rough edges off of children’s literature and to that cry foul!  When you read a scary book that is in fact not scary, that is called BORING.  It doesn’t matter your age.  Going all the way back to Grim’s Fairy Tales, there has been an element of, yes, horror in children’s stories because children love it.  Underestimate the discriminating taste of a ten year-old at your own peril, my friends!

Now horror isn’t gore, though the two have gotten blurry now and again. I’m not calling for drippingly descriptive decapitations (though there’s a ten year-old boy somewhere who just perked up at that bit of alliteration I can promise you). I’m also not asking anyone to write GOOD NIGHT MOON AND THE BLOODY WEREWOLF for my two year-old.  I am however saying that this writer likes his villains evil and his scares scary.

And while  it’s technically more adventure than horror, THE DEAD GENTLEMAN delivers on the promise of its title. There’s a very bad fellow at the center of that plot and the things he does . . . . well, you’ll just have to read to find out (with all the lights on, I find it’s easier that way.)

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4 Responses to “Should we scare them? Yes, yes, and yes again!”

  1. jennifer thomas Says:

    why hello there matthew cody!
    and
    you won’t think it
    CREEPY of me
    i was reading your Blog-Thingy
    trying to get myself
    Up To SNuff
    on all thinkgs Matt COdy (and yes! i simply adore the way you write…your writer’s Voice, and ALi, her’s too…!)
    anyway
    tell me when time allows
    how did The Dead Gentleman come about?
    was Powerless II already in the writing works
    when
    someone suggested something new and exciting to you…
    or
    was it something you have been itching to do for quite some time
    and
    now
    in more ways than one
    you have this AMAZING following…(how i would love love love for you to come speak at Phoebe’s School…!!!)
    and people are desirous of more works from you…?

    again, i can only imagine how busy you must be so only when time allows…
    fill me in….
    i never tire of hearing about your Amazing Happenings…
    giant love to you, ali and The Boy

    jt

  2. Well, lovely to hear from you jt in this or any other forum (though someday I must teach you about paragraphs . . .)

    That being said, I began The Dead Gentleman not long after the final edits on Powerless were done, but long before there was any talk about a Powerless sequel. It’s very different from Powerless and the bigger canvas allowed me to do some stuff I’d been wanting to do for a long time.

    It’s a lot weirder than Powerless, but I hope in a good way!

  3. I am the fan that blogged that nonsense about your antagonist being too scary. Of course, I loved it. And will love PowerlessII (title? coming out date?)

    Since all of 9 people follow my blog–and not closely–I was honored to be linked here. But mostly I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your first book! And eagerly await your new stuff.

    And how your twisty mystery made me realize my writing is lacking. It is exactly my fear of conflict and misery that makes my villains not-so-evil. And you’re right: that is boring.

    *sigh* I return to my copy of Chronicles of Narnia to study Jade, the White Queen, for wickedness pointers. But I will always be haunted by the Shroud when trying to write a truly scary villain. Thank you for your example.

  4. Hi Katrina!

    First off, your blog post was certainly not nonsense – it was a thoughtful and honest question that spurred a great deal of healthy discussion. I think that there are definitely stories where the antagonist can use a little softening, if you will. Each story is different and the needs of each vary greatly, I suspect.

    I’m also a huge Narnia fan and love returning to that world! The White Queen is a great role model for would-be miscreants everywhere.

    So glad you liked Powerless, and thanks for the lovely review. Looking forward to reading your work!

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