Fiona
Fiona asked John Darryl Winston:

Some reviewers have described IA: Initiate as an "easy read," it sounds to me as though they may have glossed over many contemporary ethical dilemmas for long-term contemplation. Would you say that you have written this book with the intent for it to be read at multiple levels of understanding, up to and including adult reader/thinkers? Looking forward to your reply, Fi (aka @hanahula)

John Darryl Winston Great question, Fiona. Thank you. Almost 9000 members on goodreads liked the quote by C.S. Lewis, "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." For me this says two things: that we all carry a child's spirit inside of us no matter how deep we try to bury it, and that we all, regardless of age, house the same emotions of fear, anger, joy, and the strongest, love. When we don't address them in our writing in an engaging way, we miss the mark. There are exclusively adult stories out there to be sure, but we never forget the cartoons we laughed at (the good ones) growing up, the pranks we played on each other or that were played on us, our first best friends and puppy loves, and our deepest fears even if we have conquered most of them.

"Toy story" is one of my favorite stories because it performs on so many levels (also had to watch it a million times with my 10-year-old son). A writer, especially a writer of children's lit, should take the time to nurture and develop the skills necessary write in that manner. You cannot be all things to all people and that is not the objective, but we do come with the same emotional equipment at any age, and I think the key is to elicit them: all of them. "IA: Initiate" touches on gang violence and bullying at a level appropriate to the middle grade and YA genres as it should, but adults are not immune to those issues and as adults we often remember their effects from long ago either as a victim, bystander, or unfortunately, perpetrator.

The novel also touches on many other issues, or as you say dilemmas, such as the dogma of religion and politics, but you wouldn't recognize it, unless you were in that personal space in your life at the given time of the reading.

One more thing, when I was growing up, we/I had our/my favorite bible stories. When I talk to people, they agree that those favorites still persists as adults. My favorite is Samson and Delilah, which I sort of reference in "IA: Initiate", and as I write this now, it occurs to me because of it's supernatural nature, darkness, and powerful element of love.

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