Children's Literature

Hello everyone,

I’m a stay-at-home mom wannabe author. Now that my youngest kid is in school, I’ve embarked upon my long-time dream of writing a children’s novel. (Sounds so ridiculous when I admit it publicly.) Anyway, the story I’ve started writing involves modern-day witches and their attempt to ruin the lives several young children. The children are good, churchgoing, polite, well-behaved, etc., and the witches are of the traditionally vile, black-hat-wearing sort who use magic for evil purposes. The children will eventually defeat the witches, of course, using their natural talents and intelligence (and very minimal violence).

So I am wondering – does any of this sound inappropriate from a Catholic perspective (I really hope that’s not a dumb question; I’ve got a long way to go in my Catholic journey). I know that stories about the defeat of dark powers in fantasy settings are acceptable (right?), but is it OK to write about bad scary witches in a contemporary setting?

Thanks for all your help!

I’ve written and published two juvie novels (see my website in my signature), and my third novel is due out soon.

You might do really well with the novel if you get a lot of protests from modern-day witches. Negative publicity has catapulted various books, plays, and movies to the top in recent years! OTOH, I think most witches would probably ignore your novel so as not to give you publicity.

My question is, how authentic will your story be? I personally enjoy reading children’s stories (and adult stories, too) that are well-researched and accurate. One of the reasons why I strongly dislike the Left Behind series is that the first novel, in the first 30 pages, contains TWO glaring errors about computers that could have easily been fixed IF the authors had bothered to ask any knowledgeable high school computer geek!

Do you know a lot about witchcraft? If not, are you willing to learn? THAT would be my biggest problem, as a writer, with such a story. I personally would not want to spend the time and energy delving into the topic of witchcraft, even the fantasy witch world. Perhaps your story wouldn’t need these kinds of details to be a good story, but it seems that the correct facts about witchcraft would need to be there, even if the facts are about the “fantasy” witches, not the real ones. There is a huge history of “fantasy” witches.

I have written a screen play about child sex offenders, and I’ve been considering writing it into a novel. What is holding me back is my unwillingness to do the research and write the gruesome details about such vile acts in a novel.

Have you ever read The Lovely Bones? I’ve read the first chapter, and I wish I hadn’t. I was really upset by reading the details of a child rape/murder, and I would not read the rest of the book, even though I’ve heard that it is a good mystery.

And I fear that my novel about child sex offenders would have to contain multiple accounts like this, but all based on TRUE incidents, to be believable. And I would have to read and study all those true incidents–yecch.

In a screenplay, I was able to write the story by providing a minimum of details. “Hints” in my screenplay are adequate to provoke a visceral reaction from the audience, and there is no need for detailed descriptions of various crimes. But in a novel, you NEED those details or the novel will be banal.

Have you considered writing your story into a screenplay instead of a novel? It sounds like there would be a lot of action in your story, and that’s the prime requirement for a good screenplay. Also, the screenplay format would prevent you from homilizing, which, IMO, would turn your novel into one of the old-fashioned morality stories and therefore render it less effective and unappealing. There are very few chidlren’s authors who can manage to pull off inserting homilies into their stories. Louisa May Alcott comes to mind, but she is obviously in a class of her own! Most children’s stories simply tell the story and let the story get the message across with no homily. (See the books Sylvester and The Magic Pebble, or Frederick.)

Good luck! It really does sound exciting.

If it was ok for Tolkien, it’s ok for the rest of us. :wink:

but is it OK to write about bad scary witches in a contemporary setting?

Thanks for all your help!

One of the things I love most about Catholicism is that it assumes and insists that the faithful use their God-given intellect and powers of properly formed discernment. It’s not a knee-jerk, reactionary religion. A story about bad, scary witches in a contemporary setting doesn’t seem like it would pose any tension with the Faith.

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