Local author takes a break from the supernatural to help teens with dating
by Spencer Crawford/The Villa Rican 10.15.11 - 11:59 pm
Local author T.L. Gray has taken a brief respite from the world of the supernatural to begin a book series aimed at helping guide teenagers through the world of young adulthood.
“Keezy’s 10 Awesome Rules for Teenaged Dating” made its debut at last weekend’s MeccaFest event and Gray reports she nearly sold out the first printing. Based on her 17-year-old daughter, the new book attempts to teach pre-teens, tweens and young teens how to traverse through a dating world that has changed drastically with the emergence of social media.
“In this book, I’m talking about issues that are relative today,” Gray said. “For instance, dating doesn’t really exist anymore. Kids go out in groups of 10 or 20 and if you happen to sit next to a guy now you’re going steady. Their relationships are now basically on the Internet and through social media. That interpersonal relationship is kind of disappearing because they don’t go out to dinner and sit and talk to learn to get to know each other. There’s no such thing as courting anymore.”
While some nuances traditionally related to dating are disappearing, Gray explained that new pitfalls are popping up due to interaction through social media.
“Every little thing they do and say is out there for everybody to judge and it’s out there as a permanent record,” she said. “It used to be that when we would do something stupid, like all teenagers do, it would be a rumor for a month or two until the next stupid thing is done and then it would be forgotten. Nowadays with everything out there on tweets and posts and on Facebook and Myspace everything is now out there as a permanent record and somebody has a copy of it. They’re basically living in a fish bowl.”
Gray also discusses respecting one another, self-esteem issues, cyber-bullying, clinginess and other issues teens face in relationships today.
“It’s just getting hard for kids in relationships today,” Gray said. “The book is just about how dating has changed.”
Though Gray holds no doctorate in child psychology or relationship, she does have the experience of raising three teenagers — Megan, 22, Johnathan, 21, and Kelly. She researched the book by talking with her daughter and dozens of her friends about the dating world today.
“This book is really for the pre-teens, or the tweens, before they start dating so they know what to expect,” Gray said.
The book could also be a benefit to parents of teenagers so they understand that the dating world is not the same as it was when they were growing up so unfair expectations shouldn’t be put on your kids.
“As parents, we can’t be blinded to it and think it will all work out like it did for us because it’s not the same world as when we were dating and that was just 20 years ago,” she said. “What I find most is that we parents are expecting our children to respond the same way we did, but we don’t live in the same world so they can’t respond in the same way. If we don’t educate ourselves to find out what’s going on, we’re going to be lost and we’re going to give the wrong advice.”
Next year, Gray plans to release two additional books in the “Keezy” series, one that will provide rules for teenage drivers and another that will offer inventive ways to make money in a poor job market. She plans to release two “Keezy” books per year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
Grays first book, “The Blood of Cain,” tied religion and the supernatural together in a story of vampires. It, too, will eventually be a series and she’s already completed the second book. However, her next offering, “Milledgeville Misfit,” due to be released in December, is a return to the supernatural before the release of another “Keezy” book in the spring.
“Milledgeville Misfit” involves a young girl who was in a car accident that kills her parents and now mute she is sent to live with an aunt and uncle at a plantation home called Deerborn in Milledgeville. She discovers there are five other kids living in the house who teach her how to cope and deal with the loss of her parents, but she later discovers they are all ghosts. Later the young ghosts cross over from the supernatural world to become real again.
“Milledgeville Misfits” ends with a cliffhanger similar to the popular movie “Sixth Sense” in that the main character is left wondering whether she has been dead all along or she imagined everything that’s happened or whether the children she thinks are ghosts are actually real. Gray never answers the question, leaving it up to the reader to decide.
“I take what appeals to kids, what appeals to the young adults and I remember when I was a teenager what I wanted to read about,” she said. “I was fascinated with the supernatural. I loved stories about vampires, witches and ghosts. I think
there’s a reason why you are attracted to those kind of things and, in my case, I come from a very abusive background and to me that was my escape.”
Gray also explained that she was a fan of superheroes growing up and a series of books she’s already completed, but hasn’t yet published, called “The Necromancers” is her tribute to superheroes. She says she’s waiting on the right book deal before publishing the series.
“I like so many different things, so it’s easy for me to move from one genre to the next,” Gray said. “I don’t really get stuck on any one thing. To me a book is just a story, regardless of the genre that it’s in. I’m able to jump on an idea and from there just go forward and write in that genre. Every book has a message, it’s just put into a story form that they think readers will understand what they’re trying to say.”
Gray’s books can be found locally at Horton’s Books and Gifts on Adamson Square in Carrollton. They can also be found on most major Internet bookstores.