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August 12, 2011

Does Your Muse Have a Stud in Her Tongue?

Posted by jordana

rsz_ron_koertge_photo_credit_sonya_sones.jpgSTONER.jpgRon Koertge may be much older than your average teen, but that doesn't mean he can't write authentic YA books that really speak to teens of today. Ron talks about his latest book, NOW PLAYING: STONER & SPAZ II, and the teenage boy still very much inside him! 

 That was the first question a high school sophomore asked during an online Q&A. I replied that it sure looked like it sometimes. 

I was chatting with kids in a creative writing class about my new novel NOW PLAYING: STONER AND SPAZ II and how I was able to write about a sixteen-year-old stoner (Colleen) when I was seventy-one years old. That’s right. Seventy-one. Geezerville. Expando-pants and a white belt. A fuel-efficient car.

Well, it’s not that bad. I drive a big, expensive Toyota and wear jeans. I like to bet on Thoroughbred horses and behave badly. But I’m still eligible for Medicare. How do I know anything about people fifty-five years younger than I am? 

Here’s one reason: I grew up, got a job, got a divorce, made investments that were sometimes smart and sometimes dumb, and generally did what most adults do. But I never completely matured if that means being earnest, solemn or serious.  

When I was forty or so, I published a novel for grown-ups (THE BOOGEYMAN). I was really happy. I’d always wanted to be a novelist. So I wrote another book for adults and when that didn’t sell, I wrote a third. No luck there, either. I’d been a poet all my life, but that didn’t count then. (I’ve sure changed my mind about that and not just because of my three novels-in-verse, either!)  

So I was a little depressed and bitching about the way things were going when this friend of mine said, “Ronnie, you’re chronically immature. You should write about sixteen-year-old boys because that’s basically what you are.” 

Stoner&Spaz-C3.jpgMaybe it hurt my feelings for a minute, but I also saw the wisdom in it. And if I was going to be sixteen forever, why not decide that’s a good thing?

I didn’t know anything about YA, so I went to my local library, got a couple of books from the tiny YA shelf, read them fast and said to myself, “Oh, man. I can do better than that.” Turns out I could. WHERE THE KISSING NEVER STOPS went to one publisher and was snatched up. An editor there liked its irreverence and sass. 

Isn’t that what a lot of kids are --- irreverent and mouthy? I’m sure there’s a book of mine somewhere (I’ve written over a dozen) without a smarty pants, but I can’t think of one at the moment. I took Polonius’ advice --- even if Shakespeare thought he was kind of a tool --- and was to mine own self true.   

I’m still grateful to my friend for nudging me into writing for young readers. I’ve found a real home in YA and middle-grade fiction. I stopped trying to be somebody I’m not --- a grown-up with an ulcer and no sense of humor --- and started to use the gift God gave me: I’m able, don’t ask me how, to be seriously funny.

Give away!
Five lucky winners will receive Ron Koertge's NOW PLAYING: STONER & SPAZ II. To enter, send an email to NowPlayingGiveaway@gmail.com. In the body of the email, include your name, mailing address, and email address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and email address). One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/25/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/26/11 and notified via email.

With this blog tour, Ron is launching his website: http://ronkoertge.com

And the next stop on Ron's tour is The Hate-Mongering Tart at http://www.ekristinanderson.com