WHO ARE THE RENEGADES OF MIDDLE GRADE?
by James Ponti
Writing is a solitary exercise during which you spend countless hours by yourself at a computer figuring out what's going to happen to your main character or how you're going to describe the setting in a way that brings it to life or what's the perfect name for the character in chapter three who seems unimportant but is actually going to come back in chapter seventeen and really flip the plot of the book.
But, while writing is a solo and sometimes lonely experience, being a writer doesn't have to be. This is especially true if you're a middle grade author. The community of MG authors is sprawling, but also fairly interconnected. Between conferences, book festivals, and other publishing events you quickly get to know many members of the kid lit community. And they are almost universally some of the nicest, funniest, most enjoyable people you'll ever meet.
At one of my first conferences, I got to hang out with the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson who pulled me aside and told me something another author had once told her: "We're not competitors, we're coconspirators." And she was right. Authors in the kid lit community want to see each other succeed and do well because we love books and we love getting kids to fall in love with books. That's why we have so much fun on panels or getting together when we're in the same town. We can commiserate about the difficulties of the job and celebrate the triumphs. Which brings us to the Renegades of Middle Grade.
On the pages of this website and through our interactions on social media we are trying to establish a new version of our community that allows educators and readers alike to be part of it too. There are eighteen of us and we're all friends who admire each other as authors and as people. More importantly, we all believe passionately in the value of books. Some people like to say they get lost in a book, but we believe that actually a book is where you get found. You find yourself on the pages and when you do, you find others with whom you can build a community. You see, we don't just want you to be readers. We want you to become coconspirators. And we also want you to see that we don't take ourselves too seriously and were pretty goofy and awkward when we were the ages of the characters who populate our books.