Have been thinking about this as I am doing both – sometimes concurrently.
When I started writing The Butterfly Heart I did not have in mind a target audience, it was just a story I wanted to write. It was when I came to my characters that I realised this could be a story that children would read. I am happy however that both children and adults have read it.
I think there are different freedoms in writing for different audiences – I definitely find myself freer in language use when I am writing books specifically geared to an adult audience, I do not check myself as often. The only question I would be asking myself is whether the language I have used is the best it can be.
I would ask myself a similar question when writing for children – but added onto that would be whether it would allow for easy pleasure in its readers. There is a different freedom I find in writing for children – not sure what to call it other than flights of fancy, a freedom of imagination. Maybe I should feel that freedom in writing for adults, and I do to a certain extent, but more so with children.
One of the greatest writers ever (to my mind) is Gabriel Garcia Marquez – and I have only ever read him in translation. He combines everything in one – beautiful use of language, wondrous flights of fancy and great storytelling. There is no one writing now who comes close to him in the way he blends magic and reality, who so seamlessly takes you into a world that is real but which shimmers with a sense of unreality. Can you just imagine what it would be like to read him in Spanish?
For me he has all the freedoms combined in writing for children and adults – a freedom with language and imagination combined with a powerful storytelling ability – that ability which is at the core of any good book.
His titles alone are wondrous – has there ever been a better title than One Hundred Years of Solitude? Love in the time of Cholera? Chronicle of a Death Foretold? Memories of my Melancholy Whores? Strange Pilgrims? I’ll stop now – but can you imagine the fun that illustrators have had with designing those covers?