Underage Drinking: Fantastic Fiction or
When it comes to writing about anything, you’re making a statement about yourself and your beliefs. Whether it’s a simple, ‘Mom’s potato salad is the best’ line on Facebook (accompanied by a picture of said delicious dish), or something slightly more controversial, it really doesn’t matter. By putting your name next to something in a public forum, you’re forming an opinion—one that could affect the views of other people. And I’m not just talking about the salad they bring to the next family BBQ.
I released my debut novel two weeks ago, and I knew that, when I did, I was treading on dangerous ground. Finding Home is a Young Adult book, and the major subject matter in this novel is underage drinking.
I have to come clean with you here; I deliberately chose to write about it. This isn’t one of those, ‘Oh, my characters, they made me’ moments. If anything, I opened a bottle of bourbon and I emptied it down my poor heroine’s throat.
The reason I wanted to write about underage drinking is simple; in Australia, the legal drinking age is eighteen. Personally, I had my first drink at around thirteen.
Did I like it?
Did I do it again?
Four years later, sure I did.
Were all my friends like me?
Hell, no! I was very straight, being a book-loving, writing-obsessed nerd. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t go out on the weekends to various parties and get “on the piss” (is that Aussie enough for you?) from the age of around fifteen. And I went to a selective school for apparently “smart” children—you’d think we’d be too busy working out the chemical compound in a glass of beer than drinking it.
And so, when I decided to write YA, I wanted to write something that was real. I didn’t want a book about someone who was innocent and shiny and perfect; I wanted my lead character, Amy, to be broken and to have some very real flaws. Because I met a few Amy’s as a teen. And I lost a few Amy’s, too.
Yes, my book deals with alcohol abuse. It’s a sensitive topic, and not one that everyone wants to read about. I’ve had a few people say it’s even unrealistic, that the parents of these teenagers don’t notice or curb their kid’s booze intake.
I don’t like to get involved in the real vs. unreal debates, no matter which fictional book I’m talking about (because it’s fiction…). What I don’t mind taking a stand on is underage drinking.
People do it.
I don’t know that it will ever change.
But, with awareness and education, hopefully they won’t take it to extremes.
Finding Home has a very clear message on the perils of underage drinking, and one that I hope isn’t too preachy. It’s extremely difficult to walk the line between “moral to the story” and “thou shalt not drink”; and I hope that, by incorporating the voice of reason as another young person and not showing a complete 360 character turnaround, I’ve managed to strike a balance between the two.
For me, if one teenager reads Finding Home, gets into a tough situation, looks at a drink as a solution and thinks “Eh. Not tonight.” Then that’s my mission accomplished. Because that’s the message I’m trying to send, and one I’m happy to put my name to in a public forum.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I must ask my mother for this potato salad recipe…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lauren McKellar is a writer and reader of Young and New Adult books. Her debut novel Finding Home is out now, and can be bought from all your usual eBook sites (links available here). She also works as a freelance editor for novels for all age groups and you can chat to her on twitter or facebook any time you’d like.a Rafflecopter giveaway
ABOUT FINDING HOME:
ABOUT FINDING HOME:
Moody, atmospheric, and just a little bit punk, Finding Home takes contemporary YA to a new level of grit...
When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.
The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.