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YA Literature Symposium: Keeping it REALLY weird

yalit14I feel very lucky to have been able to attend YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium in Austin this weekend. It was a great weekend full of thought-provoking panels, amazing author interactions, and just a lovely time talking about YA literature!

One of my favorite panels that I got to attend – and sometimes you had to make some hard choices! – was Sunday morning’s “Keeping it REALLY weird (books for the fringe & reluctant readers).” This had a great lineup hosted by Kelly Milner Halls it also included Chris Barton, Andrew Smith, Lisa Yee, Jonathan Auxier, Bruce Coville, and Laurie Ann Thompson. These authors have a reputation for writing about subjects sort of on the fringe compared to other YA books. Their books involve cryptids, unstoppable giant insects, Star Trek geeks, gamers, oddballs who make change, aliens for teachers, and ghost gardeners among other things. But many readers connect strongly to these stories of outsiders and happenings on the edge of what may be normal or accepted. Not only was this a really informative panel but it was also so much fun. Why? Take a look…

photoSee Lisa Yee in the middle? Jonathan Auxier bet her that she wouldn’t come to the panel dressed like Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and said if she did, he would  sing all of his answers to the questions to the tune of “Moon River.” So Lisa dressed up and Jonathan had to sing until he brokered a deal with the audience to do yo-yo tricks for a singing reprieve.

That’s the fun stuff, but what did we talk about? The panelists talked about the weird things they did as a child – Lisa Yee used to pretend she had headgear to fit in with her friends; Chris Barton jumped off a second story roof; Jonathan Auxier, after an obsession with Teen Wolf, tried to convince his mother he was a werewolf – and then moved onto to more serious fair.

Asked whether the publishing industry made it harder or easier for so called “weird” books currently Bruce Coville and others noted that publishers often just want to clone hits like the Hunger Games or Harry Potter. They often are trying to catch up to trends instead of create them. Andrew Smith noted that it was really the author’s fear of ‘going there’ that kept the strangeness out of books.

On Walter Dean Myers

Walter-Dean-Myers-photo-for-Obituary2On July 2, the world lost a visionary, revolutionary, and influential member of the YA community: Walter Dean Myers (1994 Edwards Award). His death at 76 has affected the whole field, but more importantly, his body of work impacted all who read his books.

Some Hub bloggers have fond memories of reading or teaching his books:

Becky O’Neil
I really liked Lockdown (2011 YALSA Quick Pick) by Walter Dean Myers. It’s a good book for a guy reluctant reader (the language and tone are simple and straightforward), especially one who romanticizes a life of crime. The book’s greatest strength is its unblinking look at how hard it can be to get back on the right track once you have a record and not much hope of a better life on the outside…even if you’re only in juvie. I really liked this quote: “Every time [the other inmates] see somebody who looks like he might break the cycle and do something with his life, they want to pull him back in. Especially if you look like them, if you come from the same environment they come from. If you turn your life around, you’re putting the blame on them for not turning theirs around.”

Genre Guide: Co-Authored Books

from writania.comDefinition
I know this is not really a “genre.” But I think it’s a type of book that is different from other types, so I hope it might be useful to have a guide to what’s out there. For the purposes of this post, I am talking specifically about books written by two different authors, not books told in multiple voices by one writer. I am also not talking about books written in a traditionally single-perspective style, just by two people. This is for a few reasons: first, it narrows the playing field when it comes to putting these lists together. Second: These books just have a different feel to them. And third: co-authored books allow for a variety of interesting conversations about metafiction, authors as people (SHE is friends with HIM? Astonishing!), and what voice is.

Authors to Know

The Hub: Tweets of the Week – January 11, 2013

Here is a list of fun and informative tweets from some of your favorite people in YA Lit:

The Hub: Tweets of the Week – January 4, 2013

Here is a list of fun and informative tweets from some of your favorite people in YA Lit:

The Hub: Tweets of the Week – December 28, 2012

Here is a list of fun and informative tweets from some of your favorite people in YA Lit:

The Hub: Tweets of the Week – December 21, 2012

Here is a list of fun and informative tweets from some of your favorite people in YA Lit:

The Hub: Tweets of the Week – December 7, 2012

Here is a list of fun and informative tweets from some of your favorite people in YA Lit:

The Hub: Tweets of the Week – November 30, 2012

 

Here is a list of fun and informative tweets from some of your favorite people in YA Lit: