March 12, 2012

Guest Post Author Holly Schindler: Why I Write MG

Today I welcome Holly Schindler to the blog.  Holly is the author of Playing Hurt and A Blue So Dark - both YA novels, but then decided to write for the middle grades.  

Here's why that happened.

Why I Write MG 

Picture this: I’m about—oh—three years into my full-time pursuit of a publishing deal. I’ve drafted a handful of adult novels, and have amassed an enormous collection of rejection slips. While my family is offering incredible—incredible—monetary support as I pursue publication, I still want to contribute in some way to household finances…and am teaching piano and guitar lessons.

It’s Halloween afternoon, cold and threatening to rain (as is always the case in the Ozarks on Halloween), and I’ve agreed to meet a few pressed-for-time students at their homes for their lessons before trick-or-treating festivities begin.

I ring a doorbell, and am greeted by a young boy in a black jumpsuit decorated with white bones, his face painted bright green.

“Cool!” I say. “You’re a skeleton.”

My student rolls his eyes, uses his prop to point at the large hat on his head, and announces, “Nooooo. I’m an undead serial-killing cowboy from Mars. With a hatchet.”

Oh. Right. Clearly. My mistake.

Thing is, though, that’s really how imaginations work when you’re younger. You don’t have to be just a cowboy. Just a Martian. There are no hard-and-fast rules. The world seethes with possibility. I saw that over and over again, as I interacted with young students during music lessons…and as I offered English tutorials…and as I even helped judge the local Reflections writing contest for the Springfield Public Schools (where I was introduced, in one submission, to a super hero named H2O Olivia).

Middle grade readers are apt to tell you some of the wildest stories you’ve ever heard (especially if it gets them out of playing the song you know they didn’t practice a lick the week before)…A recurring tale about an invisible man who kept getting into a student’s backyard during the night instantly springs to mind…

The more I talked to my students, the more I started to feel the itch to open the gate on my own imagination, let it run just as free as my students could.

And that was what led me to writing my very first work for kids…

(Below: Me and my, ah, completely bewildered younger brother…Not exactly serial-killing cowboys, but instead, a couple of snow clowns: Mom’s imaginative solution to getting through a particularly wintry Halloween night…)

In addition to writing MG books (my first MG will be published by Dial in ’12), my love for MG also led me to putting together a blog devoted entirely to the genre.  Smack Dab in the Middle is a blog run by a group of some fabulous MG authors—we blog about a new theme each month, dishing on our latest WIPs and books in development.  We also offer writing tips, as well as interviews with additional authors, editors, publicists, book designers, etc., and often host giveaways of newly released (or even galleys of soon-to-release) middle grade novels.  You can follow us at  If you’re an author who would like to schedule a guest post or interview, please contact me directly at writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com.  

Thank you so much Holly for sharing that! I also like to hear why authors write for this particular age group.  And as a middle school teacher I can tell you, you are very right!  


  1. Holly, I don't think I will ever tire of hearing the story of how your parents supported you as you pursued a writing career. :)

    And, like you, I write MG because I love tapping into that imaginative world where children live.

  2. I loved reading about how you came to be a published author (and a MG one at that!). I'm off to check out the blog. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I also am always entertained by a child's imagination, especially when it comes to Halloween. My 4 yer old last year was not content to be just a zombie or just a pirate, she had to be a zombie pirate :) I love that such an innocent thing inspired this author to write MG. I think that light , more imaginative MG material is often passed over as fluff in favor of more "cutting edge" stuff. I think it is a completely underrated genre.

    -Kate the Book Buff
    Recent Post: Kate's Mailbox Adventure, or, How My Heart Was Stomped on by a Video Game

  4. Whoa - I had no clue that Holly Schindler was writing MG! I hope her first book includes an undead serial-killing cowboy from Mars. With a hatchet :) Now I'm going to check out Smack Dab in the Middle!