Writing the “Rural” YA Novel, a guest post by Gary Eldon Peter

Many years ago, when I started writing my recently published young adult novel, The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen, I had something very different in mind. Think a Micheneresque multi-generational saga of the great rural Midwest, intricately plotted featuring a vast array of characters, alternating points of view, and ready-made for a miniseries (preferably prestigious HBO, but I’d settle for Netflix too).

So what did I end up with?

A novel, but one that was much more “compact” (as one reviewer described it) than what I envisioned. How that happened would take another book to explain, including how it eventually became a story for young adults, but one key element remained constant: the setting, a small and economically challenged dairy farm in southern Minnesota, not very far from where I grew up , with a fifteen-year-old gay boy in the middle of it all.