What’s the hardest part of writing YA fiction?
For me the hardest thing about writing Young Adult literature is getting the voice right. I’ve taken a fair amount of guff from the adults who’ve read ALL IS SILENCE about the fact that Lizzie, the teen protagonist, is passionate about classic rock. She hardly listens to anything after she was born. Teen readers keep telling me she is so cool and getting her song references.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
As a young person I had written stories, songs, poetry, plays. Then I started having kids of my own and was limited to song lyrics for several years. While a student at Portland State University, pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper, I started writing my first novel. I got a D+ on the research paper, but I started myself along this path. About a year later I read Spider Robinson’s Time Pressure finishing about 2 a.m. The next morning I finished the first short story I thought was any good.
Have you found any clever ways to market your books to YA readers?
Not particularly clever. I’ve set up school readings that seem to lead to great interactions with teen readers and writers. I teach at a high school and many of my students have become my fans. A few students have even chosen to come to my high school because they read my books.
What YA books have had the greatest influence on your writing?
Not many direct YA books were an influence. Z for Zachariah, a post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel by Robert C. O’Brien, was an early favorite, Robert A. Heinlein’s juvenile novels from the 50s and finally, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I loved the Hunger Games and recently found Mindy McGinnis Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust.
Author Bio: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Robert L. Slater wanted to be an astronaut or a rock star. At 42, he gave up those dreams to become a writer of science fiction and fantasy, where he can pretend to be both. Like some of his characters, he has a propensity for speaking in lines from 80s movies, drinking Mountain Dew and eating pizza. He loves music as a listener, a zealous fan, a guitar player, and a singer/songwriter. After nearly 20 years as a schoolteacher, and 35 as a teenager, he is beginning to have a hint of insight into young-adulthood. He has been in that hood a long time!