Tag Archive: Young Adult


This magical image is by mariobraune and I found it on Flickr. Click the photo for more great images by this artist.

GONE by Michael Grant is totally set up to be a book about what kids would do if they had to build a society.  Picture it: all of the adults disappear one day, suddenly, for no apparent reason.  Simultaneously, a barrier made of God-knows-what-but-burns-to-the-touch encloses a large but limited area around the town.  It’s a perfect set up for power struggles and warring factions.  And GONE is that, but somehow it’s also much deeper.

It’s pretty cool how Mr. Grant managed the setting.  There are two maps at the beginning of this book, one of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone, the area inside the barrier) and another of the town of Pardido Beach, California (the one small town within the barrier).  Let me just say, I HATE books that include a map at the beginning.  I usually think that means that the author doesn’t trust his writing enough to believe I can imagine his setting without pictures.  Amusingly enough, after my initial grumble I completely forgot they were there.  I didn’t need them, the setting was so clear.

It was fun to look at them after I finished the book, though, because despite the limit of the setting–it’s about 62 square miles enclosed under the dome–the setting is wildly diverse.  I honestly don’t think that this book could have been set anywhere other than California.  The FAYZ contains a beach (which plays a pivotal role in a chase scene), the desert (which plays a pivotal role in one character’s survival story), hills and forests (which offer a nice variety of wild-life to mutate and become terrifying), a gold mine, and some barrier islands.  As far as structures go, there’s one town, a nuclear power plant, a private school, and a marina.  Everything a pack of unsupervised children need.

However, the real treasures of this book are the characters.  Things don’t break down as utterly black and white.  Sure, we have our “good” characters: Sam, the protagonist; Astrid, his brilliant girlfriend; Edilio, the kid who’s got your back.  On the other side of the equation, we have the “bad” characters: Caine, the leader of the private school kids; Diana, his sort-of love interest; and especially Drake, the private school psychopath that likes to hurt people.

However, the bulk of the characters are the variety that is working each day to do their best.  Some of them are weak and some of them are clueless but all of them are complex.

  • There’s Mary, who later becomes known as “Mother Mary” who takes care of all of the little children.  She’s super-stressed, battling an eating disorder, and experimenting with self-medication.
  • There are the two local bullies: Orc and Howard.  Orc is the brawn and Howard is the brains.  While they’re annoying and potentially dangerous, they’re nothing compared to the evil that is Caine.
  • There’s little Pete, Astrid’s autistic younger brother.  Who knows if he’s good, bad, or neutral?  He joins my ranks of spooky little kids, though.
  • One of the most conflicted characters is Quinn, Sam’s best friend.  He longs to be special and wants to lead but lacks the courage.  He goes with the flow, even if the flow is being directed by some pretty dastardly dudes.
  • Or, my personal favorite, Lana and her dog Patrick, who find themselves stranded out in the desert when Lana’s grandfather blinks out as he’s driving them home.  She is On. Her. Own.  Stuck in a mining shack, surrounded by mutated coyotes.

I could go on and on.  These characters, the ones doing their best, were the best part of this book for me.  The idea that there would be a “good” side and a “bad” side was conventional.  The concept of a power struggle was utterly predictable.  But the idea that there might be kids filling roles with utter reluctance, in over their heads and coping badly was just simply beautiful.

Throw in the super powers and you’ve got one big mess!

So that’s the characters and the setting. On Monday, I’ll tackle the plotting.  This was a pretty long book and Mr. Grant kept the pacing good and fast.  I’ll see if I can’t figure out how this author does it!

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This picture actually does go with the book! This great photo is by mariobraune and I found it on flickr. Click the picture for more images by this artst.

It was bound to happen.  I hit a writing slump.  I’m questioning my premise, my characters, and my pacing.  There’s only one thing to do when that happens: read some other author’s fantastic writing so I can get horribly intimidated.  The least I could do I share my experience with you!

The book up for deconstruction is GONE by Michael Grant.  Like so many of the other books I read, this is the first in a series.  As of October 2010, three of the books have been published (Gone, Hunger, and Lies).  There are rumored to be six books in the completed series. GONE, the first book, was published in 2008 which means Mr. Grant is putting out one pretty sizable book a year.  Seriously impressive!

Mr. Grant has a small promotional website through HarperTeen with a short bio and a little bit on each of the books in this series.  There’s a perplexing little website called “the fayz“.  It’s a reference to The Fallout Alley Youth Zone–the nickname given by the children to the 100 or so square miles enclosed by a barrier where the adults are missing. The website looks like a journal kept by a character named “Sinder” who, as far as I know, doesn’t appear in the book.  The cool thing (besides the journal, which was cool and does contain spoilers) is that the site contains a link to an on-line version of the book.  So, if you’re curious and don’t want to add to the stacks of books in your living room (come on, fess up.  I know I’m not the only one with book towers.) you can read GONE from here.

GONE is the story of what happens in one small California town when every human being over the age of fifteen blinks out of existence.  Very much like LORD OF THE FLIES bullies vie for power in this new adult-less world.  Unlike LORD OF THE FLIES, we have a supernatural element in this book.  Some of the children left behind develop abilities, like super strength or super speed.  Of course this just lends a sharper edge to the power struggles.  And, not even get me started on the freaky animal mutations….

The main character of the story is Sam, a reluctant hero-type.  He’s a leader.  He’s a good guy.  And he knows that power is a corrupting force.  He doesn’t want any part of it.  Still, when a scary group of bullies from the private school on the hill come to town, Sam has to decide if he’s going to lead or if he’s going to submit.

One of several antagonists in the story is Caine, the leader of the private school crowd.  He’s charismatic and smart.  He’s also brutal and selfish but in the absence of leadership, the kids follow anyone willing to tell them what to do.  Immediately he and Sam have serious problems with one another.

There’s a pretty big cast.  There’s also a fairly big scope in the story-telling arena.  I thought I was going to read a book about society building.  What I got was much, much more.

On Friday, I’m going to take a look at the characters and setting in GONE. Then, next week, I’ll tackle plotting and writing style in separate posts.  I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts about this book with you!

Racism in Young Adult Fiction

 

This beautiful image is by jamieskinner00 and I found it on Flickr. For more photos by this artist, click the image.

 

Today, I’d like to look at racism in young adult fiction.  At least one or two books make the American Library Association’s most challenged list because they contain racial discrimination.  Personally, I think that this stand is counterproductive.  Often young adult fiction contains racism to illustrate the lesson that bigotry is ugly, as in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN.  Sometimes, like Laura Ingalls’ LITTLE TOWN ON THE PRARIE, it’s represented in a historical way.  Whether it’s included to teach a lesson or just to keep a historical era authentic, I believe it’s a mistake to shield the young from images of racism.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a coming of age story about a girl named Scout and her brother Jem as they grow up in Alabama in the 1960’s.  The climax of this book is a trial in which their father, Atticus, defends a black man against accusations that he raped a white woman.  THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN is the story of a boy who runs away from his abusive father.  As he flees, he meets up with a runaway slave named Jim who is trying to get to Ohio to buy his freedom. As Jim looks after Huck, Huck realizes that the black man isn’t property, despite what society tells him.  When Huck must make the choice between revealing Jim as a runaway slave, or helping him continue to Ohio and face the threat of hell for stealing another person’s property, he says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”

One of the leading objections to both of these books is the liberal use of the word “nigger”.  I hate this word.  In my opinion, there are only a couple of others that rank as hateful.  However, I believe that we, adults and young adults alike, need to have open, adult discussions about when using the word “nigger” is and isn’t appropriate.  When it’s used in a historical context to demonstrate how it was used to hurt and belittle, I believe it serves a worthy purpose.  If it’s used to shock and make writing edgy, it becomes the same as swearing in young adult.  Maybe even worse.

LITTLE TOWN ON THE PRAIRIE gets the racism nod, and has been challenged and banned in a few places because Pa Ingalls takes part in a black face minstrel show.  It’s presented as entertainment, the same as a spelling bee and a musical concert.  It’s worth mentioning that an earlier book in the series, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE has one black character who is a doctor.  This doctor saves the family from malaria.  So, in this context, I believe the minstrel show just illustrates the culture at the time (in the 1880’s in the Midwest).  While, yes, it is racist, it’s also an opportunity for how cultural awareness has changed in the last 130 years.

Here’s something that I found interesting:  all of the book challenges from racism that I found were racism around African-American culture.   It’s not like racism against other groups doesn’t exist in young adult literature.  There’s a nice little collection of Holocaust literature for young adults, including ANNE FRANK: DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL.  Holocaust literature is, by it’s very nature, about racism.  And while ANNE FRANK had been challenged, it was for sexual content and homosexual reference.  Also, while the LITTLE HOUSE series has the one example of racism against blacks, there are multiple examples of racism against Native Americans.  Ma Ingalls even says, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” during their stay in Indian Territory.

So, I want to leave this discussion with the question: why wouldn’t we want to expose young adults to examples of racism?  Why does it seem that only representation of racism against African Americans is challenged?  I personally would have no trouble including racism in a book I wrote.  How about you?

Drug Use in Young Adult Fiction

This great photo from Vancouver, Washington was taken by Curtis Gregory Perry. For more photos by this artist, click on the photo!

Alright, this one is tough for me.  As an adult, I’m not interested in books about addition and drug abuse–not in young adult fiction and not in adult fiction.  I know that there is a whole plethora of teen-themed books that take on the question of drug abuse.  GO ASK ALICE by (intriguingly enough) Anonymous is a cautionary tale about drug addiction published in 1971.  More recently, Ellen Hopkins wrote CRANK (2004), an odd little book of poetry about one girl’s addiction to crystal meth.

Because drug addiction and the culture around dealing and taking drugs is so bleak, these stories are usually more than just drug addiction stories.  ALICE and CRANK each contain sex and rape, ALICE contains homosexuality, and CRANK takes on the topic of teen pregnancy.  Clearly, these authors were choosing to tell stories, which, in their opinion needed to descend into the dark places of human emotion.  I’m sure they’re powerful.

Here’s what’s interesting to me: as a teen I would have eaten these books up.  I was raised in a happy home with pretty mainstream friends and fairly wholesome interests, so reading about darkness and pain was the only way I got a look at that side of life.  In that sense, I’m grateful there were these dark books about gritty, hopeless lives.  When I grew up and actually saw real people in this kind of pain,  I wasn’t so shocked.  On the other hand, now that I am an adult, I fully understand a parent’s desire to shield their child from this tone and these topics.

However, drug addiction doesn’t have to be the topic of a young adult book for it to be controversial.  THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky was challenged because the book doesn’t always present drug use in a negative light.  Charlie, the protagonist, smokes marijuana and takes LSD.  Marijuana he likes, but LSD he doesn’t.  There isn’t ever any threat of addiction and there aren’t any real negative repercussions to the drug use.  It’s a realistic look at drug experimentation.

Or what about THE HUNGER GAMES series? The brilliant thing about this series is that the characters have emotional fallout for having killed other characters.  The adult champions of The Hunger Games drink or take drugs or abuse themselves in some way.  Even Katniss becomes addicted to morphling, a fictional drug with very realistic addiction and withdrawal.  I loved the drug use in this book.  People who have gone through such a traumatic experience would be at high risk to self-medicate.  It’s painfully realistic to the characters.

Since I don’t, and I’m guessing that most of us don’t, intend to write a book about drug addiction or drug experimentation, maybe we should look at drug use in more practical terms.  Would you write a young adult character that smokes?  I did and then I thought the better of it.  What if it got published and some kid admired her enough to try cigarettes?  So, even though the swearing and some mild violence stayed in, the smoking came out.

What about teen drinking?  It’s true that many teens drink before they reach a legal age to do it.  There’s drinking in GOSSIP GIRLS, EVERMORE, and SPEAK (probably among a million others).  I had an easy out with my last book: the characters were vampires and, therefore, couldn’t drink alcohol.  My main character, a girl who lived with them didn’t have any access to alcohol.  Easy.  Problem solved.  But even if it was possible, I would have a very, very (very, very) hard time including teen drinking in a book I wrote.

So, there you have it.  I would be willing to put a sex scene in a young adult book; I commonly have swearing; violence and even death may find its way into a book I write.  But I’d have to dig pretty deep before I included a scene with drug use.  I’d think about it a long time before I ever even had a character that smoked.

What about you?  Would you be interested in writing a book about drug addiction?  Would you let a major character experiment with drugs?  How about the lesser drugs?  Smoking?  Drinking?  Would you draw any lines for a book you wrote?  And how do you feel about the topic if you’re a parent?

Sex and Teens

 

This romantic scene is complements of pedrosimoes7 and I found it on flickr. Click the picture for more of his inspired art!

 

The next topic that I wanted to tackle in my blog is sex in young adult fiction.  This is a tough one.  Personally, I think I would rather see a teen read realistic depictions of sex than realistic depictions of violence.  However, I am quite clearly in the minority.  The number one reason books are challenged?  You got it.  Sexual content.

As a writer, it grows even more complicated.  Sure, we want to be responsible.  But we also want to be honest.  Sex is a big part of every teen’s life, whether they’re chaste or not.  That’s why kids wear purity rings and take purity vows…because they’re thinking about sex.  Attraction from the opposite sex is also where far too many teens find their self-worth.  It would be unrealistic to never create a character who is motivated by these same things.

The big taboo young adult book when I was growing up was FOREVER by Judy Blume. It’s been a heavy target for book challenges, landing at number eight of the most challenged books of all time.  Ms. Blume said that she wrote this book in 1975 because her daughter asked her to write a book where two nice kids have responsible sex without any terrible, ruinous consequences.  FOREVER was the result.

In more modern young an adult, sex is a bigger player.  TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer, HOUSE OF NIGHT by P.C. Cast, and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER are all books where sex, implicit or explicit plays a significant role in the plot.  Not coincidentally, they are all challenged books as well.  On the other hand books like WINGS by Aprilynne pike, NEED by Carrie Jones, and EVERMORE by Alyson Noel are young adult books with strong romantic elements but with a very innocent main female character.  And while this does solve the problem sex being part of the plot, something about the asexual quality of the female characters was troublesome.

So, here’s what an amateur writer thinks about sex in young adult books.  Take it for what it’s worth and remember it’s free. 🙂

I think that the most important thing to do when writing young adult is to be honest.  I know….big, fat cliché, right?  Wrong!  Every character, like every person, has motivation: lack of support at home, an overpowering older sibling, abuse, religion, crippling shyness, etc.  Each and every one of these life-shaping circumstances is going to alter the way a character looks at sex.  They will be looking to get different things out of a sexual encounter.  If sex is represented honestly as part of a character arc, it won’t be gratuitous.  I keep working hard to not sanitize or simplify my writing.  Kids are smart and as a rule, I don’t think they like to be BSed.

Alternately, you can always make your character too busy to think about sex.  That’s what I did in my last book.  Of course, it didn’t get published, so that might be some advice to ignore.

So, what do you think?  Do you include sex scenes in your young adult books?  Do you imply that sex has happened?  Or do you try to avoid the whole issue by making your character above all that mushy stuff?

P.S. (12:00 PM)There must be something in the air!  One of my favorite agent-type blogs features a post on sex in YA today!  So, for a professional take on the topic check out Mary Kole’s blog.

 

This gorgeous photo is by LaurenV and I found it on Flickr. I wonder what they're saying! For more photos by this artist, click on the picture.

 

 

I’m sorry.  I know I promised my next installment in adult themes in young adult literature today.  It was going to be about sex in kid’s literature but I was out late last night and didn’t get to the promised essay.  I will resume this series on Wednesday.

Instead of writing on my blog (bad Kate!) I was at an amusement park enjoying an after hours Halloween Scare night!  It just happened to be a buy-one-get-one-free night for the local college kids, so I spent last night surrounded by the 18-22 year old crowd.  Needless to say, I was listening in on many conversations while I waited in line.

The phrase du jour?  Epic Fail.  When the girl in front of me at the ticket line realized that she had forgotten her cell phone her response was, “I know.  I’m an epic fail.”  When a guy leaped off of a bench, he noted, “Awww, Dude.  That was an epic fail.”  Two notes on that one: “dude” is still being used (????) and I’m not sure what would have constituted an epic success in that situation.

Also, there is a certain subgroup of young adult that speaks every sentence like it’s a question.  I’m going to approximate a conversation I listened in on.

Do you know Ella?  She that girl with the long blond hair that looks kind of funny but she’s super nice?  She one of my suite mates?  We went to Satan House?  She.  Totally.  Freaked.  Out.  Like, not just scared but crying.  We tried to get her out but there wasn’t any way to get out?  I felt really bad.

I immediately liked the girl who was telling the story.  She was very sympathetic, talked super fast, and so earnest it made me want to smile.  Of course all proper names have been changed to protect the innocent.  So, the fast-talking, earnest questioner may have to find a place in one of my manuscripts.

So, what young adult slang have you noticed lately?  Do you have a child that uses some phrase that catches your ear?  Or do you like to make up young adult phrases in your writing hoping one will catch on?

 

 

 

 

 

How Adult Are They Really?

This is photoshop magic created by SashaW and dispplayed on Flickr. For more powerful, beautiful images by this artist, click the photograph.

In my last blog, I wondered how people felt about swearing in Young Adult books.  I was thinking this might be the start of an interesting discussion.  Language isn’t the only “adult” behavior that makes its way into adolescent literature.  Death and violence, sex, drug use, racism, and homosexuality are some of the most common themes in books that are challenged and banned.

I thought this might make an interesting series.  Today, I would like to cover the theme of death and violence in young adult literature.

When I construct a plot, one of the first things I try to consider is the stakes.  What will happen if my protagonist fails at whatever she is trying to do?  Will she end orphaned?  Alone?  At military school?  Injured?  Dead?  It has to be something significant, otherwise why would the reader care?  And death certainly is significant.  In fact, so many great stories have a climactic battle scene (HARRY POTTER, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, STAR WARS, for example) which is really just opportunity for mass death and violence.

Death is a fairly common theme.  I’m not just talking about older Young Adult, either.  Consider CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E.B. White.  Like I mention on my “Favorite Young Adult Books” page, CHARLOTTE’S WEB is one of my favorite books.  By the time I was six, I had already worn out a copy.  This is a book crammed with death.  Wilber the pig is about to be killed on the first page.  Through the whole book the sword of Damocles hangs over his head.  Probably the two saving graces of this book are there actually isn’t any violence at all and that the creature facing death is an animal.

On the other hand, violence, with or without death, is a fairly common reason for book challenges.  HARRY POTTER is one book series challenged for the violence.  While the violence is often cartoonish and healing magically achieved, death is very serious and never reversible.  And in the case of these books, a brilliant marketing ploy.  Who will live?  Who will die?  Once Ms. Rowling killed Cedric Diggory, nobody was safe.  The last book was a veritable bloodbath.  There is one saving grace to the deaths in these books: death is almost never accompanied by violence.  It was a magical spell, the killing curse, which did most of the damage.  The killing curse appeared painless and didn’t leave a mark.

Contrast that with THE HUNGER GAMES, a new favorite of mine.  There’s violence and there’s death.  There’s death by violence.  The main thread of the book is children killing children.  It’s not just minor characters, either.  They are shot with arrows, impaled with lances, poisoned, infected, beaten to death, and eaten by genetically mutated animals.  Theoretically, this book would be for the mid-teen and up crowd but I’m sure younger readers have given this a try, too.  Personally, as much as I enjoyed this series, I might be a little leery to try this book out on a twelve year old.

And then, finally, there’s THE BOOK THIEF.  I’m not entirely sure that this book really belongs on the Young Adult shelf at all.  The New York Times calls it a book “perched on the cusp between grown-up and young-adult fiction”.  This where I make the argument that a teen protagonist doesn’t necessarily make a young adult book.  This is a book about racism and war and literature.  There is explicit, realistic violence.  Death narrates the tale, if that tells you anything about the death toll.  These are adult themes told in an adult way and for the average reader, I think it may be more college level.

But, then again, I’m not a parent.  What do YOU think?  Where do you draw the line with violence in young adult literature?  Is it different from where you draw the line in movies or books?  Let me know what you think.

Isn't this a beautiful photograph? It's by D Sharon Pruitt at Pink Sherbet Photography. Click the photo for more of her work.

OK, before I even get started, I’m sorry Mom.

This post is inspired by two fantastic posts and an even better discussion on literary agent Mary Kole’s blog (here and here).  On the blog, Mary made the argument that, like all other words in a manuscript, swearing is a choice.  If it fits the character and the situation, she won’t bat an eye at a few four-letter choices.

The flip side of this argument was the teachers/librarians/parents who are trying to protect the children they care for.  They argued that every time a swear word is chosen, there is another word, just as appropriate, that could have been used.  Children should be filling their heads with good, constructive stories, which necessarily does not include swearing.

I understand both sides of this argument. Honestly, I do.  I happen to fall on the pro-swearing side of this argument.  In my last manuscript, my main character was a tough little thing whose parents kept her on a short leash.  The only defiance that she could indulge in was bad language.  She didn’t drip the F-bomb but a very frustrated adult character did.

I stand by this choice.  I think that self-censorship is really distracting in a book or on television.  When a writer makes up a swear word, I think it puts the emphasis on the word, rather than the situation. (I’m looking at you, Battlestar Galactica.  Neither Frack nor Frak are real swears, no matter how much feeling you put behind it.)  Only slightly better is when the characters swear in another language.  In Firefly (also television) Joss Whedon made the decision to have the characters swear in Chinese.  I understand that these are television shows and subject to different standards.  However, even in the HOUSE OF NIGHT series, the main character makes a little speech about how much she dislikes swearing, limiting her four-letter vocabulary to “hell”.  This, from a book where the sexual overtones are so blatant, even I gave up the series after book three!

The only option that remains is to create characters that would not swear.  My main character in my next book is one such character.  Don’t breathe easy, though.  Her friend is a malcontent with a number of “colorful metaphors” in her repertoire.  I just can’t seem to leave it out.  When I was a teen, I swore (Sorry again Mom).  Almost all of my friends did too.  The ones that didn’t were hardly shocked at our language.

The reason I’m writing this blog is because I never realized that there was a whole segment of the population who might not let their kids read my book (should it ever get published) based on the language alone. It makes me question each swear word I use now.  My target audience is the fifteen years up crowd.  Kids of that age (and their parents) should be able to handle a little adult language, right?

So, I’ll pass this one on to you.  What do you think?  Would you allow your child to read a book with a moderate amount of swearing?  Is it harder for you to swallow than a moderate amount of sex or a moderate amount of violence?  What if you’re a writer?  Do you avoid swearing in our books because of potential audience objection?

To deconstruct TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN by John Marsden, I moved outside of my comfort zone in a couple of different ways.  First, the author of this book is Australian. The main character’s voice definitely reflected that.  Since this is my first Australian author (I usually favor American and British authors) the glossary of Australian slang terms at the beginning of the book came in awfully handy.  Second, as the title suggests, this is a book about war.  I’m not usually a big fan of war stories but I didn’t think THE HUNGER GAMES was going to be my cup of tea either, and I devoured the whole darn series.  So, on the recommendation of a co-worker, I decided to give the TOMORROW series a try.

Mr. Marsden runs a pretty awesome website.  Aside from being a national and international bestselling author, he is also a teacher.  He started and runs a school called Candlebark in Australia on 850 acres of natural bush.  In addition to that, he also seems to be an all around good fellow.  He made passionate pleas for compassion for refugees during 2010 Refugee Week.

John Marsden is best known for the TOMORROW series and the companion books, THE ELLIE CHRONICLES.  However, he is the author of other young adult fiction such as the award winning SO MUCH TO TELL YOU and non-fiction like THE HEAD BOOK.  Furthermore, TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN is about to come out as a movie.  You can watch a trailer here.

TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN is a story told from the point of view of Ellie Linton, an outdoorsy, capable teen living in rural Australia.  She and six of her friends decide to go camping for a week in the Australian bush.  Their destination is a secluded, overgrown crater in the Earth called “Hell”.  It’s so secluded, that the seven teens are completely unaware that their country, starting with their hometown, is being invaded and taken over by a foreign power.  When they do return to civilization, their town is bombed, the townspeople are prisoners, and the war has begun.

OK…so I have a confession.  I swore I wasn’t going to blog about a book I didn’t love.  So far I’ve managed that, even if I had to quick-read something new because my intended blog topic didn’t turn out to be stellar.  However, I wasn’t wild about TOMORROW.  It could just be me…I know someone who is finishing book 10 and couldn’t be more thrilled.  So don’t let my lukewarm reception turn you off if it sounds interesting.

It does have an appealing voice and an intriguing premise.  I’m going to look forward to talking about some of the aspects of the book that didn’t work for me.  I hope you get something out of the deconstruction of a book I wasn’t in love with.

Until Friday.

That gorgeous (and in this context, terrifying) photo was taken by tathamoddie and I found it on Flickr.

Pick a Genre..Any Genre

I’ve mentioned in here more than once (and you would have probably guessed anyway from my book selection) that I write young adult manuscripts.  Most of the time, they’re young adult fantasy, though my work-in-progress is very light on the fantasy.   I didn’t really think about it much when I started writing.  Young adulthood is such a pivotal time of life.  In your late teens, you’re still trying to figure out who you are and at the same time, you’re making decisions that will affect the rest of your life.  College or military or career?  Stay in your home town or move away?  Celibacy or sex?  Having a young adult protagonist gives a writer endless options.

But, what about the rest of the shelves in the bookstore?  Mystery?  Romance? Sci-Fi?  Mainstream fiction?  Historical romance?  There are a whole library of ideas out there.  What makes a writer pick and stick with a genre?

Personally, I think it has a lot to do with what you like to read.  And that’s a good thing.  You need an idea of what’s out there before you can contribute to the literary pool (at least that’s my theory). It was one of the reasons that I started this blog.  I wanted to make sure I was staying up-to-date with young adult publications.

I also think the  plot that serves as your inspiration also limits you.  HARRY POTTER couldn’t have been anything else but a young adult book.  The protagonist needed to be a young person for the plot to work.  MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA and THE DA VINCI CODE have to be mainstream adult books.  They needed to include older characters and mature themes.  I also think this is why so many authors have trouble defining their genre.  They started with an idea and didn’t worry about fitting it into a genre until they started the query process.

Finally, I think that the genre we choose is based on the authors that have inspired us.  My favorite book of all time is CHARLOTTE’S WEB and I think E.B. White is amazing.  My other favorites?  Roald Dahl, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and J.K. Rowling.  Of course, there are other authors from other genres.  Oscar Wilde, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jane Austen have given me hours of delight.  But the vast majority of the authors I admire are young adult authors.  In some small way, my writing is a tribute to them.

So what about you?  How did you pick your genre?  Do you ever try other genres?

That great pile o’ books is by felixco.inc and I found it on freedigitalphotos.net.