Monday, September 28, 2020

Is Wholesome a Dirty Word?

Years ago, I was on an author panel at a writing festival. Someone posed a question for all the writers, and I was up first. The question was, "What do you want readers to take away from your books?" I thought for a moment and answered that I hoped my books would cause readers to consider the value of kindness. 

I had no idea my answer would be so boring.

The next author said she hoped her readers would pass her books around at school so they could learn something from the sex scenes. Her answer got a big laugh from the audience--and some cheers. 

One of us has had a novel made into a major motion picture, and the other one is me.

 It wasn't the first time I'd been made aware of the lack of marketability of "wholesome" books for young readers. A publishing industry professional once encouraged me to write an explicit scene in one of my books, assuring me that if I would just make the book "edgy" in this way, it would really sell.

I didn't, and the book didn't sell.

But I'm OK with that. Edgy isn't me. 

I taught school for many years, and parents entrusted their children to me. Maybe that's why I feel protective of readers. I don't want them to grow up too soon. Childhood is fleeting at best, and today's culture doesn't seem interested in putting a hedge around that magic and innocence. But once it's gone, it's gone forever. 

School Library Journal said my Tig Ripley books are good "for fans who are ready to graduate from Megan McDonald's Judy Moody and Charise Mericle Harper's Just Grace but aren't quite ready for YA fiction." 

 OK, I'll take it. 

Ginger Rue is the author of the Aleca Zamm series from Aladdin and the Tig Ripley series from Sleeping Bear.  Her next book, Wonder Women of Science, is now available for pre-order.



  1. Ginger, I agree with you on this point on so many levels.

  2. I, for one, very much appreciate these thoughts! Plus, it would totally have ruined Forever if I had checked it out of the library instead of getting a friend's sister's copy with no cover and having to sneak to read it!

  3. Hi Ginger! This is exactly why Chicken Scratch Books has been born. We only publish new 'traditional' middle grade novels, where wholesome is expected. It's so nice to find like minded authors!