This, ladies and gentlemen, is Margaret Peterson Haddix. The author of books such as Running Out of Time, Double Identity, the Shadow Children series, and the Missing series, she used to be one of my favourite YA authors.
One of the reasons I enjoyed Haddix’s writing so much was the premises. What other author writes books about children stolen from the past to save them from death; a girl that hears everything everyone says about her, except in one house in one town; or a war that doesn’t really exist? Even better, her writing generally lived up to the premises.
But then something happened. For some reason, Haddix began publishing books at a rapid pace – two a year. I don’t know why – if her popularity caused her editor to push her, or if she just had too many ideas she couldn’t stand it – but she did. She increased her quantity. And lost her quality. Concerned about writing two books in a year, the quality of what she writes has declined.
Back when she wrote one a year, her books were brilliant. Her very first, Running Out of Time, about a girl that thinks she lives in the past, only to discover that she’s part of a historical village, had a gripping premise supported by good writing. My other favourite of hers, Double Identity, about a girl who is the clone of her dead sister, was the same.
I still read her books – or I should say skim. Until her latest, Game Changer, the premises were still excellent, compelling. The writing just doesn’t live up to the plot’s promise, so I skim to find out what happens. But I’m not thrilled when a new book comes out anymore. I don’t call her my favourite author anymore.
This is why quality is more important than quantity. It doesn’t matter if it takes you five years to turn out a book of good quality; it’s better than writing many more that aren’t worth much.
Don’t be a Haddix.