From Street Breeze to Street Girl – A Novelist’s Unexpected Journey

March 4, 2013

Sometimes people ask me why I write young adult novels. My answer is always, “I don’t know. It’s just the genre that comes to me.”

Jo Chandler Writes Young Adult Fiction

But it’s more than that.

Several years ago, I took on the role of newspaper advisor for a teen published newspaper, Street Breeze. The young people who put the paper together were amazing kids, and I totally fell in love with each and every one of them—no exaggeration.

They were awesome. Thing is, these were homeless kids and kids who had aged out of foster care, kids who were escaping violent environments, kids who have been through things most of us can’t even imagine. I was both haunted by their experiences and awed by their resilience and fortitude.

During my eight years with this program, a story started to form in my mind, and my first novel Street Girl was born. It took me ten years to write Street Girl. I learned my craft as I wrote and revised.


Street Girl is the story of 13-year-old Zoe Stanton, who lives in a small encampment of homeless people with her mother. One day Zoe’s mom vanishes, and Zoe is left to fend for herself. Her tale is harrowing, but Zoe is strong—until it comes to David, the mysterious new guy in her life.


By the time I finished Street Girl, I was hooked on writing for young adults. Next, I wrote This Side of Forever, about sixteen-year-old Annie Bloom, strong willed, smart, talented and addicted to alcohol.


Both of these books deal with complex issues, but so does life. It’s important to me that I create characters that others can related to so that they might find hope and inspiration.


This Side of Forever will be released this spring. Street Girl will follow as soon as I’ve had a chance to do some final revisions.

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