O Solid, Solid wherefore art thou Solid?
Or, more accurately, where were you when I was in the ninth grade?
In all seriousness, the only thing I remember reading in ninth grade was Romeo & Juliet (and getting in trouble for passing a note during the class movie viewing), and I just didn’t get it. I had such a hard time following the Old English that I never even got to see if I could relate to the situation or any of the characters. Then, seeing nothing more accessible coming down the pipeline (Beowulf, anyone?) of my high school years, I basically gave up on reading entirely.
Crazy, right? But sadly not unusual; if someone like me, who read voraciously (and learned from my mother to stash paperbacks in my purse, pockets, wherever) could be frustrated enough to stop reading, then it’s not hard to see how any kid who’s completely overwhelmed by required reading could give up on leisure reading, too.
That’s why I knew when the idea of Solid came to me that I had to flesh it out into a YA novel (and eventually a series, but that came later :). I had to write it for the me of back then that so many girls are now.
Clearly, my first goal was to make Solid fun and fast – a complete escape from the school books that had been such work for me to slog through. I also didn’t want to pass on the chance to send a good message to teens and tweens, but didn’t want to undo all my good work by burying readers under heavy life lessons! So I worked in just a couple must-haves: Clio (the teen heroine) had to have real, open communication with her mom, and she also had to eat. Real food. Without obsessing over it.
Beyond making the story easily readable, I also wanted to ensure that every reader would be able to see her/himself in the story, so I created a cast of hugely diverse personalities (and abilities). Still, I made sure the kids had some core commonalities: they’re all open-minded, independent thinkers. In the end, even though the *stars* of Solid are “different,” both from “normal” kids and even each other, each discovers his or her own “super ability” – finds his or her self – and that’s the main message I hope readers walk away with…along with: Reading is fun, of course!