Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Writer Lauren Myracle speaks about "Peace, Love & Freedom"

Writer Lauren Myracle spoke about "Peace, Love & Freedom" tonight at LCCC's Bill and Marietta Dineen Writers Series.

Lauren is a best-selling author of books for tween and teen girls. A few years back, when my daughter was somewhere between tween and teen, I bought her a copy of "ttyl." It's a novel told in IM text, a foreign language to some of us Boomers but perfectly comprehensible to 12-year-olds.

Annie said she liked it. That was the last time she said anything positive about anything, as she then was sucked into the vortex of angst-ridden teenhood.

She's still there. But I went to Lauren's presentation and bought her a book, "How to be Bad," co-written by Lauren and two of her teen-writer pals. I liked the book immediately because it had a gator on the cover. A plastic one, but still a gator. Not sure about the plastic reptile's significance. Maybe Annie will fill me in later. She may text me her opinions.

Lauren Myracle has appeared high up on the American Library Association's banned books list. Major target is books in her Internet Girls series, which includes "ttyl," "ttfn" and "l8r g8r." The girl characters in the books talk about teen things. Lauren and her friend Kimberly read an excerpt. Seemed very funny and creative to me. Boys are mentioned a lot. Parties too. A tiny bit of loose language. Nothing even close to the epithets unleashed by the 11-year-old girl character in the new movie, "Kick-Ass." But alarming just the same to some parents.

"People are freaked out by female sexuality," said Lauren.

She read some letters from parents. One father named Chuck used the following words to describe Lauren and her work: "loose morals," "pedophile," crap," "no conscience," and "misguiding youth."

A woman named Leslie from Idaho wrote a letter blasting Lauren, saying she was going to complain to the school library and get the book taken off the shelves. But Lauren says that she always replied -- and tries to "kill them with kindness."

In this case, it worked. Leslie had a sense of humor and by the end of a series of letters, began to come around. She still wasn't going to let her 12-year-old daughter read Lauren's books.

Not sure I would have the patience or kindness to respond to these kind of letters. Kurt Vonnegut used to say that he welcomed book-banning, book-burning and all kinds of censorship because it boosted sales. I'm sure he also got a vicarious thrill out of laughing in the faces of the troglodytes.

Lauren drew a line in the sand over one challenge. Scholastic Book Fairs told Lauren that her book "Luv Ya Bunches" would be accepted if she removed all the references to the "two moms" of one of her characters. Lauren said no -- and her editor backed her up.

She tells stories of parents challenging her books at school and public libraries. Library copies of her books have been found in dumpsters. There have been cases of people stealing all her books from the library and disappearing.

These aren't kids doing this.

The author is a Christian and sings in her church choir. She made a point in saying that there are many types of Christians. In her church, she noted, Jesus wouldn't hate a girl that had two moms.

Lauren Myracle lives in Fort Collins with her kids and husband, poet and high school teacher Jack Martin. Her web site is

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