Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 23, 2015

Writing for Children/Writing for Adults

Some people have asked how I went from writing for children to writing for adults. As with most conversations about the creative process, the answer is winding, but here’s my short answer. Really, it began the other way around. I was writing for adults in my twenties, and published some short stories but not the two novels I then wrote. Marrying and having a child made me less interested in angst and more in hope.

Becoming a mom also got me reading and thinking about books I’d loved as a girl. Little Women was uppermost in my mind, and driving on Rt. 2 toward Boston, passing the exit sign for Fruitlands, where the Alcott family lived when Louisa was ten, I wanted to know more about Louisa May Alcott’s life as a child. I wrote about that time in my first novel for young readers, Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands.


The research pulled me into the whole family. Seeing artwork done by May Alcott hung in Orchard House made me curious about a nineteenth century painter who didn’t get the credit she deserved. Writing is writing, but with May I was more interested in her life as an adult than her life as a child: she wasn’t the spoiled girl that Louisa depicted in Little Women, but she was more intriguing as an adult who tried to balance work and romance. I felt the breadth of her experience more suitable for a thick book. I wanted conversations between sisters and sweethearts, and more room for description, though I did try to keep it under rein, or at least wedged between action, which can be conversation.

I wrote more about moving from writing for children to writing for adults at Nicole Evelina’s blog. Click on the link for all, which includes:“Many years ago, Little Women’s Jo March — huddled in a chilly garret penning plays and stories — gave me my first inkling that a girl could grow up to be a writer. My curiosity about other women writers stuck and carried me through college. I was unsatisfied with most reading lists, but scanned the stacks for books by women who’d been forgotten. I wrote some papers about them, and while I kept a scholarly tone, felt as if I were playing dress-up, again immersed in history.”

I’m not going to say I don’t still set up imaginary tea parties. You never know who might share the shortbread.


Click here on Broken Teepee for a chance to win a copy of LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE. Thank you, Patty. Also many thanks for kind words at The Write Review, Booksie’s Blog, and Thoughts from an Evil Overlord who wrote, “I’ve noticed that the more tabs I’ve added to a book while reading, the more I’ve enjoyed it. … I adored this book!” And I adore those colored tabs!


You can hear me read an excerpt from LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE at The Author’s Corner. It was fun recording, but all I will say is that I admire those audio readers, who make driving so pleasant, more than ever.


  1. Oooh, this post is chock full of goodies! I’m about to head over to The Author’s Corner and listen to your audio. Are your teacups, by the way, from the Eleanor Roosevelt homestead and museum?

    • Thanks, Sarah. I can’t remember where I got them. I have a vague sense that the Vanderbilt ladies used them in Newport, R.I., but really nicer to think of the great Eleanor Roosevelt with them — though she had the vote and more.

  2. I’ll share the shortbread!!

  3. Thanks for the shout-out!

    • Those tags make me curious — I want to read that book (oh yeah, I wrote it.) Thank YOU!

  4. Such an interesting post – especially since my writing has taken a similar path.

    • It is not the canniest marketing move, but I’m so glad you follow your characters and where they take you.

  5. Loved your reading! And so many great links here, along with tea and shortbread. 🙂 May must be very pleased.

  6. […] my last blog, I wrote about my path from writing for children to writing a novel for adults. I also shift […]

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