Patrick Jones to visit Morenci 04.13.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

How did author Patrick Jones ever come up with the idea of a vampire who needs tears to survive?

What will his next story be about?

How did he get into writing novels for young teens in the first place?

Those questions and any others that fans come up with will be answered Saturday morning at Morenci’s Stair Public Library when the popular young adult author visits at 11 a.m.

The event is sponsored by the library’s Teen Book Club.

The Morenci visit will mark the second for Jones, thanks to the efforts of middle school teacher Sally Kruger.

Mrs. Kruger began corresponding with Jones years ago on MySpace after she read one of his books and published an on-line review.

The Flint, Mich., native told her he would like to visit Morenci some time when he was back in the state and the arrangements were finally made in 2008.

Many of those who spoke with him then are now seniors in high school, Mrs. Kruger said, and a new group of fans will have their chance to meet him Saturday.

It’s the sort of experience Jones appreciates because he enjoys connecting with his audience to find out how his writing is being received.

Jones believes he knows the young adult genre well after reading those books by the dozens for more than two decades. He’s served on the committee that awards the “best books for reluctant readers” designation and he thinks he knows what it takes now that he’s writing his own novels.

“I think I have an understanding of what makes a book appealing to reluctant readers,” he said in an interview in 2008.

It starts with an intriguing opening. It’s written at a seventh grade reading level. It has short paragraphs. It needs to be relevant to the readers’ lives.

“There’s a stereotype that says a young adult book is simple,” Jones said. “In some ways, it is. But why are these teen characters behaving the way they do?”

That’s where some complexity arises.

When Jones visits schools, it’s mostly 10th and 11th grade students that he connects with. Seventh and eighth grade students tend to be the chief readers of his stories, but it’s the older kids who discuss the issues.

School visits are much more common than library talks, and libraries produce more unpredictable audiences that often include younger students as well as adults. His presentation is recommended for students in the eighth grade and older.

Jones’s novels are sometimes criticized for the language used, but he says it’s actually tame.

“If the dialogue was really like teens speak, no school would buy it,” he said. “There’s a vision of how parents want kids to be and there’s the actuality of how they are.”

He aims to use that reality to help teens work through their journey of growing up.

“How do you get through it? That’s the real journey,” he said.

He knows the trip isn’t always pleasant, but he knows that growth will occur.

• Drawings are planned for two autographed copies of Patrick Jones books. Borders will have books on sale Jones will sign autographs,

The event is recommended for students in grade eight and older, and adults are encouraged to join in.

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