Even before I took my first step, maybe even before my first laugh, my parents seasoned me in stories. Stories with whimsy in them, and endless possibilities, and young people who faced grave challenges and found moments of hope. And the minute my parents closed the covers on those books, they took me on walks and bike rides and camping trips where we wove the abandoned shoes and hungry ducks and over-roasted marshmallows into stories of our own. My parents knew the magical questions: "What if..." and "What happens next?"
I have a million things for which to thank my parents. But one of the biggest is that they taught me the importance of story. In all the moments of doubt in my writing career so far––and believe me, there have been many––I've never once doubted that telling stories about young people is important. Of course, young people need excellent books, no one argues this. More importantly, stories about young people are about a time of intense change, of learning and growing up and becoming who we're meant to be. For me, this process of facing challenges, of remaining open to change, of continuing to grow into who I'm becoming hasn't ended at 21 or 30. When I write stories about young people, I write about my own questions. I read an awful lot of books with young protagonists, too. I learn from these young characters, from their willingness to stay open, even when change is difficult, from their ability to step into the "what if..." questions.
So will I grow too old? Not as long as I stay open to change, as long as I'm willing to lay on a grassy hill, stare up at the clouds and see the pictures that drift across the blue canvas of sky, as long as I notice the strange footprint in the sand and ask: "What happened next?"