Nick Hornby has to chuckle a bit when people question his motives for writing his latest work, Slam, a novel meant to be young adult-friendly. People keep asking me if this was a commercially motivated decision in any way, and I say, Youve got to be kidding. Why would you write for an audience that doesnt read? he says. Hornby is the British novelist and essayist behind popular works like High Fidelity, Fever Pitch and About a Boy, which were all made into feature films. He says his decision to tackle a new group of readers wasnt exactly intentional. When I thought of the idea, it was just a regular novel, as far as I was concerned, but the protagonist happened to be 16 years old, Hornby says. Slam is about Sam, a teenager who gets his first girlfriend pregnant. This, not surprisingly, turns his life upside down as he assumes the role of an adult sooner than he expected.
As he got close to finishing the novel, Hornby says, he made the decision to take it to an editor who worked with teen audiences in hopes of making it equally accessible to young and old. I wanted to write about this kid and what he was going through, and it seems to me as senseless to say, This is only for a young audience as it would be to say This is only for an old audience, if youre writing about a 75-year-old man, Hornby says.
The novel discusses not only how young Sam feels about becoming a father, but Britains high rate of teen pregnancy. You can see the evidence in London. There are lots of kids pushing buggies around, Hornby says, adding that birth control information is readily available in Britain. As discussed in the novel, parenthood seems to be popular among young girls. Slam, however, is not intended to make up anyones mind about the matter. I think its pretty clear from the narrative that its not the best idea, but I wanted to do that in a kind of truthful way rather than a preachy way. 2 p.m. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit www.inprint-houston.org. Free.
Sun., Oct. 28, 2 p.m., 2007