For Readers Who Cut Their Teeth on Vampires
Maturing Kids Need Something More To Chew On
Good parents try to stay plugged into their kids’ lives, and nowadays – for parents of teen girls, anyway – that’s likely to mean reading the Twilight vampire series by Stephenie Meyer and tuning into the hit teen TV drama, The Vampire Diaries, on The CW.
With the fourth in the series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, enjoying box office success after a record opening in November, there’s plenty of bloodlust building, but how to keep whetting that appetite for books? As teens outgrow the high school drama and simple romance of adolescent fantasy fiction, they need something with the same allure – and a little more substance – to keep them reading.
Bravo to those 30-, 40- and 50-something parents who want to continue hanging with their kids, even if it’s only in the pages of books. Many of these adults have become vampire literates, though by now they’re hankering for something a little more substantive than Type 0 fantasy.
Paul Dorset, a father of five girls and boys ages 13 to 27 years old, says it’s important to keep kids reading – even if they’re 20-something “kids” – and when parents and children can talk about the books they’re sharing, that’s better yet.
“Kids have a short attention span these days,” he says. “It takes a really good book to get them focused. You really have to encourage kids to read.”
Dorset is the author of seven books, including fantasies for younger children and how-tos for adults. However, he says it’s that middle ground of readers – ages 16 to 30 – that need special attention. In their world, the written word is all texts and Tweets, which can contribute to a short attention span and inability to absorb more complex written material. Young people trying to get jobs need to be able to do the short and sweet – and the longer and more complex, he says.
As a pioneer in the computing world (he was writing classified code for the British government in the late 1970s and early ‘80s), Dorset has an unusual insight into what clicks, literally, for young readers – and their parents.
His newest book, New Blood: Melrose Part 1 (http://pauldorset.blogspot.com), draws from his 30-plus years in Information Technology. Toss in a little paranormal activity (a graduation from vampires) and Da Vinci Code-style intrigue and you’ve got something older teens, young adults and their parents can sink their teeth into.
“I wouldn’t recommend it for my 13-year-old, but it’s perfect for my 16-year-old,” he says. “Even my 22-year-old loves it, and the guys like it as much as the girls.”
Dorset, a British native who lives near Seattle, Wash., says it’s important to give young adults books that offer readers something to chew on intellectually without being overly graphic, something that both parents and their young adult kids can have fun with and talk about – without blushing.
How does one do that? Hit on the themes affecting all of us today: layoffs and corporate reorganization; technology and the looming shadow of “big brother;” ambition and its costs.
“Add to that mystery, the paranormal culture and two people who must never get together and you’ve got lots of layers for any adult, or young adult, to peel back,” he says. “The more things that happen, the more you uncover.”
That should keep young people perpetuating a declining skill: reading.
About Paul Dorset
Paul Dorset is a 51-year-old father of five who has worked as a computer consultant for more than 30 years. His previous publications include fantasy novels for ages 12-plus and how-to books for adults. He incorporates his extensive experience in computers – and his insightful perspective on the possibilities therein – in novels that include layers of contemporary intrigue, romance and mystery.