By Caitlin Kittredge, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 29, 2011
I knew when I set out to write The Iron Thorn that it was an alternate history novel (albeit one set in the 1950s) and that I’d run into language barriers. Not the type you’re thinking of—but slang, etymology and yes, even swearing.
Somebody asked me recently what I thought of swearing in YA, and my answer was the same as it is for adult fiction—don’t be gratuitous, but when it’s situationally appropriate, then hell yes. Swear. Sidestepping so-called “bad words” lessens the impact. You run into a roadblock though, writing about teenagers in the 1950s. Pop culture at the time liked to pretend that teenagers didn’t swear (or, except in a few rare cases, smoke, drink or even let the possibility of sex cross their minds.) I turned to my mother, who was a teenager in the late 1960s, as a primary source, and from there I extrapolated some real language, supplemented by books on 50’s pop culture for slang and references. That was the easy part.