Thursday, 7 October 2010

Interview - Lucy Christopher (Stolen) on Contemporary YA

Last week I posted a series of interviews with contemporary YA authors revolving their thoughts on the current state of young adult literature. Today I am going to add to those opinions by welcoming another author to Persnickety Snark.

Lucy Christopher burst onto the YA scene last year with the fantastically involving and confronting Stolen.  It has continued to win people (and awards) over with its vivid depiction of the Australian desert and the two characters that are linked in a troubling way.

Now onto Lucy's thoughts on the genre...

What contemporary concept have you heard about or read that made you think – I wish that were mine”?
Totally and definitely The Hunger Games trilogy! I really love these books. They are clever, emotional, exciting and important. They give good messages to young people; stuff about being strong in times of adversity, and about valuing and recognising what's important. Plus, they are thrilling and amazing reads. And yes, I completely and utterly wish I'd written them!

As contemporary YA authors, do you find criticism on your work harsher than other YA genres?
Not really. I think the current level of awareness, interest and criticism about contemporary YA fiction is both healthy and incredibly valuable. I love the fact that all these YA blogs that have sprung up around the world. They suggest that the world of YA fiction is alive and thriving. And why shouldn't criticism be hard at times? If
criticism weren't hard as well as glowing, then that would suggest that the world of discussing YA fiction isn't as healthy and as comfortable in itself as I would like it to be! I guess what I'm trying to say is that, yes there is a lot of criticism around YA fiction right now, and perhaps this is harsher than in other genres, but this is a GOOD thing. It means people are passionate about what we do!

Is paranormal and dystopian YA leaving contemporary YA behind?
It does seem like we are going through a bit of a golden age for paranormal and dystopian YA right now, but that's OK. I think there will always be a place for contemporary YA. I think the fact that there is such a lot of paranormal and dystopian YA right now means that the YA market is growing, and hopefully, hopefully this means that there will soon be much bigger sections for YA in all bookshops (paranormal and dystopian YA as well as contemporary). About ten years ago people were probably having this debate about Harry Potter,
wondering if fantasy children's fiction was leaving all other types behind. But now when we go into the kids' section in the books shops we see a lot of fantasy, but also a lot of contemporary kids' fiction too. There is room for all of us I think. The important thing is that this YA world is growing. And the Stephenie Meyers of the world, love them or hate them, has really helped this to happen.

What is the biggest mistake male authors make in writing teen girls?
Ah man, I really don't think I can answer this one! I'm not a male author or a teen girl.

What has been done to death in contemporary YA? 
Gosh, what a question! I for one am very sick of a particular kind of cover that has recently been used a lot in contemporary YA fiction. This kind of cover is this - the cover that shows a teen girl, but not all of a teen girl....the head will likely be chopped off, or a face hidden from the camera, or legs will be chopped off, or the like.

It's very strange, and often quite mournful looking, and does objectify the teen girl image to some degree. Why can't we see their heads and expressions? Or, better still, why do we have to have a teen girl on the cover at all? Can't we just let the books and the stories speak for themselves, rather than try and pigeonhole them as a particular kind of story or for a particular kind of gender, or a particular kind of age?
Best contemporary YA release this year so far?
I really liked Pretty Bad Things by my stablemate and fellow chicken, C.J Skuse. Also really enjoyed Jarvis 24 by David Metzenthen

I am always on the hunt for well written, character rich contemporary. I am going to list a topic and I’d love for you to suggest a title that you responded to involving it.
A big thank you to Lucy for making herself available during a very busy time!


prophecygirl said...

Nice one Adele, as you know I'm a big fan of Lucy.

Lucy - look at you recommending The Hunger Games! Yay! ;)

Michelle said...

Now I've got more to add to the pile of books that I need to read! I enjoyed Stolen (Gail -- @Irisheyz77 -- says it's a contender for her book of the year, in fact) a good deal. It was such a complex character driven read.

shabbygeek said...

As the premise freaks me out I've totally thrown it on my Christmas wishlist. Looking forward to reading it. =)

Cass said...

This is a really nice interview. Plus, Lucy seems so awesome. :) I will always love contemporary YA, and there will always be authors out there (*cough*The Contemps*cough*) who will continue to write Contemporary YA novels, amongst all the dystopia (which I'm digging) and paranormal.