Bringing a Teenage Voice and Experiences to a YA Novel

Author and film post-production supervisor Sheryl Benko says the summer before turning sixteen is a vivid time in her memory, partly because of the freedom associated with getting her driver's license, and partly because she had a sick uncle at that time. Benko remembers this being her first experience of grappling with mortality. This was challenging to wrap her head around as a teen, but also necessary to go through in order to understand life. Benko thinks media involving teens going through hard times and personal growth can help everyone better understand life. She used these experiences and memories to inform the teen narrator in her young adult novel The Last of Will. Benko also gets creative inspiration from the work of John Hughes. The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and other films were about teens on the surface, but really, they were for all generations.

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