If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch Roger Sutton, of the Horn Book Reader, as he interviews reknowned children’s novelist Richard Peck than you need to check it out (see below).
It is a fairly lengthy interview but Peck has a lot of worthwhile things to say to those who write for children.
As an adult writing about a newsworthy topic (such as gay marriage), you need to be careful not to preach. Peck deals with this by always employing a youthful narrator. This keeps the adult author from stealing the show.
That said, Peck also warns us not to write with complete sympathy. Parents are for sympathy. Young readers need writers who are willing to tell them hard truths including the fact that not everyone is gifted.
Writers can make even tough truths palatable by delivering them with a big spoonful of humor. This is how Peck created The Best Man, a book about being gay and gay marriage that is synicle and funny and true, but without the tragedy of the earlier gay novels.
There is so much more than this in the interview including tips on how to keep modern technology from destroying the tension you need to build a story. I’ve always loved Peck’s books, but after this interview I may have a fangirl thing going on.