The latest article on YA fiction.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Attacks on YA literature don't generally faze me. I can take it. The recent kerfuffle, for example, about how dark the literature is and presumably how damaging, while slightly irritating, is a normal reaction to teen culture. Similar diatribes have been spewed from similarly puritan mouths for decades. (See "hips, Elvis," "haircuts, Beatles," and "Manson, Marilyn.") The teens think it's hilarious, I assure you, and as the creators and reviewers of YA literature, we should take it in stride. No one of worth is taking such ideas seriously, and it probably helps sell books.

But an article from Slate and making the Twitter rounds right now is pissing me off.

That's because this article doesn't just attack the literature and the authors thereof. (The article's authors are new authors of YA literature themselves, and are probably leaning on the old "Jewish Joke" law: humor that deprecates an entire group is okay as long as the tellers are members of that group.) If it did, I'd roll my eyes, and then roll over and go back to sleep.

But this article implies quite a little bit about the readers of young adult fiction, giving them perhaps even less credit than Cox Gurdon even did. While her article suggested that teens are impressionable (I suppose they are) and should be protected from art (go eat a bag of dicks), this article suggests that teens are something worse than impressionable and weak children: they are vapid.

But readers in Y.A. don't care about rumination. They don't want you to pore over your sentences trying to find the perfect turn of phrase that evokes the exact color of the shag carpeting in your living room when your dad walked out on your mom one autumn afternoon in 1973.

Clearly I have been wasting my time, torturing myself over tiny portions of prose. Perhaps I do struggle a little too valiantly when I describe the tone of a guitar, or the grittiness in a singer's voice, or how good the Coke is at a bar in Greenpoint. But I don't think so. And many teen readers hopefully won't think so either.

And here's another hot tip: YA fiction includes literary fiction, despite what the authors might have you believe. YA fiction includes work-for-hire series (like yours, authors of that article), and it includes mysteries and romances and paranormal and novels that have been the blood and soul and very breath of the author for a decade or more, just like real grown-up books.

And you know what else? Adult fiction includes a tremendous amount of crap, the authors of which very definitely did not struggle to create, and did not spend hours on a single paragraph, and did not write draft upon draft of each chapter. They wrote it "fast and loose," to use the article authors' expression, and this reader, for one, can tell.

So please. In the future remember that if you write fast and loose, and if you have no respect for your audience, it doesn't mean everyone writing in your genre, in your demographic, in your coffee shop, is harboring the same nasty ideas about fiction.

Now if, on the other hand, you wrote that article trying to sell your book and knowing that the YA blogosphere and Twittersphere likes to rail against stuff like this, and so will probably link your article all over the place, well . . . kudos. Good thinking. But your series sounds terrible.

Voices wanted.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

There's a certain aspect of Brooklyn, Burning that I don't often talk about--at least not in public circles--because I'd rather readers not know about it when they pick up the book. I'm not going to talk about it now, but I will talk around it a little.

It boils down to this: I have a big box of Brooklyn, Burning finals at my feet right now, and I have an almost-finished trailer on my hard drive. What I'd very much like is to give away some of those finals, and finish the trailer.

The trailer needs voice-overs. Most of you reading this have voices. If you give them to me, I will give you a final. It's as simple as that: I have seven lines, and they need seven voices.

To get a final of Brooklyn, Burning, all you have to do is record one of those lines in your voice (on something like Audacity, which is free), and get the file to me. BAM! Free signed book.

Plus, you know . . . you'll be part of the voice-over for the Brooklyn, Burning trailer.

I'm going to take the first seven people I get, with one caveat: I need at least three boy voices, and at least three girl voices. The seventh . . . that can be a wild card. If it comes down to a tie, I suppose I'll have to make a judgment call based on your acting skills! Pray it doesn't come to that. Oh, and please be thirteen or older.

So, to volunteer, please comment on this post, or @ me on Twitter, or drop a comment on the Brooklyn, Burning Facebook page. Then I'll contact you with the line I'd like you to record.

I hope this works, because I really want to finish this trailer, and I really want to give you a book!

ETA: Only three lines remain, and I'm looking for only BOY voices now, as of 8 pm on June 2.

ETA 2: ALL DONE. We have all seven lines and all seven voices, as of 8:53 on June 2. It worked! Thanks, everyone.

More BEA stuff.

I told you I was a total zombie mess the other day. It stands to reason I would have forgotten some BEA-related things I meant to mention. Here they are, in no particular order.

I got this sweet watch. It's a G train watch, so it represents my time in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, but more importantly it represents Brooklyn, Burning, in which Greenpoint is essentially a freaking character. Here's the designer site, and if you like it and want one, you can totally get one too!

Also, I met Jamie, who came in second in the recent Twitter/blog/Facebook three-words hometown contest. She won a signed copy of The Absolute Value of -1, and through hell and highwater (and my own forgetfulness), I eventually managed to get it to her! Here's a photo of us, after she had forgiven me for forgetting the book a couple of times.

Also, I met David, the Largehearted Boy, which was excellent for a couple of reasons. First, heck of a guy, with a great blog--music and books, people. What else is there? Nothing, that's what. Second, he told me an event he planned for September in Brooklyn for myself and another author is confirmed! I'll have the details for you soon. Here's a hint: it's in Greenpoint. Also, since this is a Largehearted Boy event, there will be live music.

Finally, Beth and I had lunch with the inimitable ENIV, and he let me pitch all four of my WIPs at him in rapid succession, and one of them got him all excited, so I know where to direct my energies now! It's a good feeling. Over the next couple of months, I have my work cut out for me, but I know it will be worth it, and that's nice.