Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Knowing your audience by Author Andrea Murray

When Michelle sent an email telling me I could guest post on whatever topic I wanted, I was baffled.  On this blog tour, I’ve answered a number of great questions that have really made me think about my views on writing and literature, my favorite genres, my inspiration.  However, one thing I haven’t discussed that has been a huge issue is audience, specifically knowing your audience.
                I am a teacher, have been for fifteen years.  I’ve taught just about every ‘English’ related class available in public school from remedial to AP.  One year, I began my day with second grade reading groups, and by lunch, I had advanced juniors and seniors.  I’ve even taught some concurrent credit classes for Freshmen Composition and Sophomore Literature.  You get the point.  I’ve been ‘around the block’ so to speak.
                In the last five years, I’ve worked exclusively with eighth and ninth graders, my favorite ages to teach.  At that age, they aren’t quite as rambunctious and touchy-feely as elementary students (except during a full moon!), but they aren’t so jaded that they don’t want to have a little fun.  I have about 140 students in a day, not including those who still come down the hall to say hi even though I no longer have them in class. I’ve listened to their complaints about boys (or girls as the case may be), seen their excitement when they get their licenses, shown tough love when needed, and tried to reason with them that their parents aren’t total idiots. I think, as far as teenagers go, I know my audience.
                My gripe is with writers who have NO experience with teenagers.  It amazes me how many published authors don’t mention any connection to their audience (a.k.a. teens) in their bios or in interviews.  There are days when I come home from school frustrated and exhausted, but I cannot image my life without my students.  I don’t understand how writers write YA fiction without any young adults in their lives.  I’ve heard from some adult readers that they wished my book hadn’t involved so much teenage angst.  For those critics, I have one question, “How many teenagers do YOU know?”

Author Bio:
Andrea Murray has been teaching English for longer than most of her students have been alive.  She has taught everything from junior high language arts to concurrent credit freshman composition. She lives in a very small town in Arkansas with her precocious daughter, energetic son, and racecar-driving husband.  When she isn't writing or reading novels for her students, she's probably watching reality television or cheesy science fiction movies.  In addition to Vivid, Andrea has also written Vicious, the sequel to her first novel.   
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Thank you for stopping by, Andrea!  The funny thing was the two topics that I had considered asking for you to post on were your inspiration and your favorite genre. :) 


  1. Thank you for the post, Michelle, and thank you, Samantha!