Tuesday 28 September 2010

5 Contemporary YA Authors on Tired Concepts & Great Reads

Throw five contemporary YA authors the same question and you will receive five vastly different answers.  Today I asked them that tired question about tired concepts in contemporary (realistic) YA.  You might be surprised by some of the answers.

Also - what have they read this year (within this genre) that they think you should read.  A hearty welcome again to Courtney Summers, William Kostakis, Lili Wilkinson, Melissa Walker and Siobhan Vivian.

What has been done to death in contemporary YA?

Courtney Summers - As an author who writes about girls with secrets, mean girls hating each other, and girls with dead fathers, I think I'll plead the fifth on this one. ;) But seriously, I think anyone is capable of taking a concept that has been done to death and finding a new and exciting angle for it. It's not what you write, it's how you write it, in my opinion..

Lili Wilkinson - Any kind of Twilight clone, obviously. "Issues" books where characters are defined by a disability or sexuality or disorder, and where that issue is the central theme of the book, instead of just one element in a broader canvas. Oh, and my biggest bugbear: DEAD GIRLS IN COUNTRY TOWNS. Enough, people. Can we stop killing girls in order to get boys to explore their feelings?

William Kostakis - The kid 'dealing' with things. There seems to be less a focus on plot and more on characters wading through a shitstorm of problems. I'm all for characters having issues to deal with, everyone has issues at some point in their life, but why does everyone in contemporary conveniently have to work through them at the same time?

Melissa Walker - I don't like to say that anything's been done to death, because if you do something very well, it always works. It feels new! That goes for stories and covers and marketing too.

Siobhan Vivian - I would love to see more multi-protagonist, third person narratives.

Best contemporary YA release this year so far?

Courtney Summers - The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin. Wonderful.

Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world.

Released May 2010 via Random House Books for Young Readers.

Lili Wilkinson - Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon. I absolutely adored it.

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Released August 2010 via PanMacmillan Australia

William Kostakis - I've read Six Impossible Things [Fiona Wood] the most, so I think that's my fav by default.

Fourteen year old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to just six impossible things...

Released August 2010 via PanMacmillan Australia.

Melissa Walker - I just read and fell in love with HUSH by Eishes Chayil (a pseudonym). It's incredibly powerful and it goes into a world (the Chassidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn) that I found both beautiful and strange.

Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe.

Released September 2010 via Walker Books for Younger Readers.

Siobhan Vivian - I'm a bit behind in my reading this year. But I will say that my favorite contemporary of last year was Natalie Standiford's HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT.

New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It's not romance, exactly - but it's definitely love. Still, Bea can't quite dispel Jonah's gloom and doom - and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?

Released October 2009 via Scholastic Press.

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 - What books these five authors recommend on specific 'issues'.


Anonymous said...

Great interviews! Yes the themes of abuse are very very overdone, sometimes to the point of ennui

Edna said...

It's not what you write, it's how you write it
if you do something very well, it always works
EXACTLY. There have been plenty of times where I didn't care for a certain concept but then the author writes it in a well-written unique way and amazes the hell out of me.

I haven't read any of those YA releases yet but most of them are on my TBR pile. I need to get on that.

Thao said...

Love the interview and the recommendation as well. Can't wait for tomorrow : )

Lisa_Gibson said...

Great interview and some awesome book recommendations! Thanks. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Anna Ryan-Punch said...

I thought Graffiti Moon was top stuff too.

Anonymous said...

"Any kind of Twilight clone, obviously"
God bless you, Ms. Wilkinson!