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Re: Young adult writers get serious

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  • Chris Hayden
    (I will admit I am wary of YA fiction. What you might get past an editor might get a bunch of nuts out in PalinLand all excited and you might start getting
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 17, 2008
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      (I will admit I am wary of YA fiction. What you might get past an
      editor might get a bunch of nuts out in PalinLand all excited and you
      might start getting death threats.

      The Judy Blume case for example.

      I guess it is a challenge to do something within the parameters...)

      --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "ravenadal" <ravenadal@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > YA fiction is perplexing because some YA fiction is more adult than
      > so-called adult fiction. I am currently reading a YA novel called
      > "Octavian Nothing" that is more interesting and challenging, in
      both
      > language and subject matter, than anything I have read in adult
      > fiction this year. Further, I don't believe "Nothing," a novel that
      > has won several YA book awards, would have been published as an
      adult
      > novel.
      >
      > I mention, again, my one bite at the golden apple of big house
      > publishing (Knopf) where it was suggested that my (still)
      unpublished
      > manuscript, "The World Ebon," despite the sex, violence and
      language,
      > might work better as a YA novel. In fact, the only suggestion
      Knopf's
      > YA editor made was that the novel was two long and might work
      better
      > as two novels.
      >
      > At the time I considered YA fiction a literary ghetto. Now, I am
      > starting to rethink the entire proposition.
      >
      > ~rave!
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "brent wodehouse"
      > <brent_wodehouse@> wrote:
      > >
      > >
      >
      http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Young+adult+writers+serious/
      > 1031402/story.html
      > >
      > > Young adult writers get serious
      > >
      > > By Eric Volmers
      > >
      > >
      > > As a teacher, outdoor enthusiast and young adult novelist, it's
      > fitting
      > > that James Davidge would dream up a villain whose most dastardly
      > deed is
      > > getting young people hooked on video games.
      > >
      > > In Driftwood Ellesmere, the 2006 debut of Davidge's Driftwood
      > series,
      > > starry-eyed children fall under the spell of a mythical monster
      with
      > > corporate ambitions that uses tiny hand-held video games to
      enslave
      > them.
      > > Driftwood, a young girl who grew up in isolation, but has a knack
      > for
      > > using magical powers to solve the world's woes, must help free the
      > > addicted children while dealing with her own painful past and
      family
      > > history. But the plot line, while perhaps in tune with that
      author's
      > views
      > > on Game Boy addicts, was not simply a jab at the video game
      > industry,
      > > Davidge says. It has deeper symbolism.
      > >
      > > "There is a moment in the book where there is this dialogue about
      > time,"
      > > he says.
      > >
      > > "It's about our consumer culture and how it is motivated by what
      is
      > > supposed to save us time, but ends up costing us time. It's that
      > dual
      > > purpose of materialism and we are drawn to both sides as
      consumers:
      > That
      > > what gives us time, uses up time. These video games kill time for
      > us."
      > >
      > > The Calgary author has since released two more Driftwood books,
      > which has
      > > the teen coming face-to-face with some troubling, topical issues.
      In
      > > Driftwood's Crusade, the young magician attempts to free child
      > workers
      > > enslaved on a cocoa farm. In Driftwood Saves the Whales (Bayeux
      Arts
      > Inc.,
      > > 200 pages, $10.95), she...well, saves the whales. But she also
      > becomes a
      > > celebrity and attempts to block the production of Driftwood
      action
      > figures
      > > that promote "negative self images."
      > >
      > > It all seems somewhat weighty for books that, while originally
      > marketed to
      > > teens, have also found an audience among kids aged eight to 12.
      > While
      > > Driftwood's dalliances into magic and teen romance shows an
      obvious
      > debt
      > > to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the bespectacled boy
      wizard
      > has had
      > > a wider influence than mere plot points on the lucrative young
      > adults
      > > market. Rowling -- whose children's book The Tales of Beedle the
      > Bard
      > > comes out Thursday -- opened up a whole new audience of readers
      > hungry for
      > > complex plots, interesting characters and serious issues. But
      > tackling
      > > tough topics is not new to youth fiction.
      > >
      > > "I think young readers get excited by that," says Davidge. "If
      you
      > look at
      > > the original text of Pinocchio in the 19th century, you'll see
      that
      > it was
      > > very much looking at the social issues at the time. It's not new
      to
      > youth
      > > literature. Look at Grimm Fairy Tales, they are designed to scare
      > but they
      > > also offer social commentary."
      > >
      > > There are other significant challenges to writing for the youth
      > market,
      > > not the least of which is figuring who exactly fits into the loose
      > > definition of "young adult."
      > >
      > > Books written under that banner can appeal to kids as young as
      eight
      > and
      > > as old as 18.
      > >
      > > "This whole genre thing is perhaps more about marketing," says
      > Banff,
      > > Alta., author Lisa Hurst-Archer, whose first novel How to Make a
      > Wave (Red
      > > Deer Press, 223 Pages, $12.95) is being sold as a young adult
      title.
      > "When
      > > I wrote How to Make a Wave, I wasn't really thinking of it as a
      YA
      > book. I
      > > was thinking of it as a story. I was writing a story to myself at
      13
      > years
      > > old. It was something I would have liked to have read at that
      age. A
      > lot
      > > of what is considered YA novels are crossing into adult fiction."
      > >
      > > How to Make a Wave is about a lonely teenager who has been
      > disfigured by a
      > > car accident and is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths
      > about her
      > > family.
      > >
      > > Like the Driftwood series, it deals with difficult topics. Issues
      of
      > > self-image and isolation make the novel a fitting story for young
      > people
      > > who are in that often painful and humiliating process of "finding
      > > themselves" and forging their own identity. Kids are looking for
      > material
      > > that doesn't flinch from the hard questions and choices involved
      in
      > > growing up, says Hurst-Archer, a mother of five whose home often
      > became a
      > > meeting place for teens as her children grew up.
      > >
      > > "Those young people are so hungry for authentic engagement about
      > what it
      > > means to be human," she says. "This isn't Miley Cyrus or Britney
      > Spears."
      > >
      > > Authors have responded by taking stories down some dark and
      > controversial
      > > roads, says Peter Carver, an editor at the now Toronto-based Red
      > Deer
      > > Press, who oversees its growing list of titles for children and
      > young
      > > adults. Topics that may have been taboo even 10 years ago are now
      > bubbling
      > > up in young adult fiction.
      > >
      > > Martine Leavitt's 2004 novel Heck Superhero captured a Governor-
      > General's
      > > award with its tough, gritty tale about a homeless teen.
      > >
      > > Toronto author Kristyn Dunnion's recent novel Mosh Pit deals with
      > street
      > > kids and lesbianism.
      > >
      > > "It's very raw and beautifully written," says Carver. "It's
      > entertaining
      > > but gritty. And I really think kids are ready to deal with that
      > stuff.
      > > Often, adults don't want them to."
      > >
      > > Which, Carver admits, can make marketing these titles difficult
      at
      > times.
      > > School boards may not be ready to embrace books about lesbianism,
      > which
      > > makes getting the more raw titles onto school curricula difficult.
      > >
      > > But savvy kids will track the books down if they have to, Carver
      > says.
      > >
      > > "Mosh Pit found its way, not only in Canada but across the States
      as
      > > well," he says. "There are networks of kids who are looking for
      good
      > > books."
      > >
      > > And those books have to be authentic, he said. Kids can see
      through
      > pat
      > > attempts to imitate how they talk, think and feel.
      > >
      > > "You have to rediscover that voice of when you were 14 years
      old,"
      > says
      > > Carver. "You are trying to remember that age when you were
      confused,
      > > highly opinionated and everything is fresh and raw. And writers
      who
      > can do
      > > that are truly talented."
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
      > >
      >
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