Monday 27 September 2010

5 Contemporary YA Authors on Envy and Criticism

Being a huge contemporay YA fan I took it upon myself to interview some authors who write within this genre.  You see...I had some questions that need answering.  And boy did they deliver.  Throughout the week I will be posing a series of questions to this talented group and I hope it promotes some discussion.

A big thank you to all authors involved, you can find out more about them and their work below.

What contemporary concept have you heard about or read that made you think – “I wish that were mine”?

Courtney Summers - The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier for sure. It's just so dark and gritty and possible. Stolen by Lucy Christopher, for the same reasons. I think Jenny Han's Summer trilogy seems like such a fresh, thoughtful and romantic concept. I haven't read them yet as I'm waiting for the third to be released before I do, but I'm looking forward to it.

Lili Wilkinson - Gosh, lots of them. I'd love to write an all-in-one-night book with as much energy as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Also, there was this one time when I came up with this GREAT idea for a book called Immaculate, about a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant but she hasn't had sex, and then lots of Christians start to flock to her and she has to explain that she doesn't believe in God. I told my agent, and she said a book called Immaculate about a 16 year old virgin who gets pregnant had just been sold to a publisher. There are no new ideas.

William Kostakis - Dreamrider [Barry Jonsberg], masterful combination of lucid dreaming and contemporary YA.

Melissa Walker - THE DUFF. The idea of the "designated ugly fat friend"--and the concept that we've ALL felt like this at one point, like we were the least attractive among our friends, is one that is highly intriguing and has such great possibilities to explore. It's very cool that Kody Keplinger did that.

Siobhan Vivian - Hands down, Gayle Forman's If I Stay.

As contemporary YA authors, do you find criticism on your work harsher than other YA genres?

Courtney Summers - I don't mind it when people question the choices I make in my own work. That's fair and I expect it. But I think contemporary fiction is sometimes scrutinized to the point that I wonder if it's literally being read under a microscope. When your fiction is a mirror, when people see themselves in it--and I'm not saying they can't see themselves in other genres because they absolutely can--they can find that very confronting and challenging, especially if you write about issues they don't want to look directly at. And when you do write about those issues, people will have very firm ideas and beliefs about how they need to be resolved, whether or not it actually fits the story. I don't know if I can say the criticism I get is harsher than an author writing in any other genre. I've seen some heavy scrutiny and intense criticism leveled at paranormal romance writers lately, for example.

Lili Wilkinson - It's certainly different. There's a lot more attention on whether something is worthy or appropriate for young minds, and how educational it is. But on the other hand feedback from young readers is about a million times more effusive than from adult readers, so that's a big plus.

William Kostakis - No. Crap YA will be torn apart with ferocity, regardless of genre, just as remarkable YA book will be celebrated regardless of genre. That said, expectations for some genres are far lower than they are for others.

Melissa Walker - No, I think good writing and a good story has to be present in any genre. The only thing I think is a little harder with contemporary fiction is that sometimes I want to get a character out of a mood or situation, and if it were a paranormal or a book that includes any kind of magic, I could use that to instantly change the character's state. It still has to be done skillfully, but it doesn't have to be done "realistically." That said, I think world-building in non-contemps is AMAZING and really hard to do, so I'm super impressed when it's done well.

Siobhan Vivian - Wow. This is such an interesting question. I can't say whether or not this is true, but I guess there is something to be said for the emotional accuracy that is essential to realistic fiction. I would say genre fiction doesn't necessarily need to nail all the emotional details the way that realistic fiction does to be successful.

Participating authors:
Courtney Summers is the Canadian CYBIL award winning author of Cracked Up To Be, Some Girls Are and forthcoming title Fall for Anything. Website.
Lili Wilkinson is an award winning Australian young adult author who has written both contemporary and historical YA. Her most recent release in Australia and in the US is the fantastic title, Pink. Website.
William Kostakis is another young Australian YA whose debut title, Loathing Lola was released in 2008.  Currently he is touring across Australia visiting schools and bookstores sharing his naughty wit.  Website.
Melissa Walker is a journalist, author, readergirl and all round YA cheerleader - there is nothing this lady can't accomplish.  Her most recent release Lovestruck Summer was a blogdom favourite.  Website.
Siobhan Vivian is an author that I am currently fangirling over.  Seriously, read her back catalogue.  Her newest title has just release, Not That Kind of Girl and you will love it. Website.

Tomorrow - Is contemporary YA getting left behind AND what is a big mistake an author can make in writing the opposite gender.


Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

What a fantastic idea! I really enjoyed reading all the answers, and am looking forward to seeing what else comes up this week :)

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...
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Katy said...

Loved this so interesting!