One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with David Levithan

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I’m pretty sure the first book I read that was written by David Levithan was Boy Meets Boy, though it might have been The Realm of Possibility since I was, as is often the case, late to the party.  I say “written by” because of course I’d been reading books published and edited by him for years.  (He’s the founding editor of Scholastic’s PUSH imprint, and edits and publishes authors like Suzanne Collins, Maggie Stiefvater, Garth Nix, Alice Hoffman, M. T. Anderson, and Cecil Castellucci.)  I know I quickly rounded up at least four or five “written by” novels as soon as I finished Boy Meets Boy and spent a wonderful couple of weeks catching up, and and afterwards I made sure that I kept up with each new book that came out, which, honestly, is no small feat when you’re talking about David Levithan.  I mean, in the last year (almost to the day) he’s given us Every Day, which comes out in paperback on September 10th, and its digital-only companion, Six Earlier Days; Invisibility, a collaboration with Andrea Cremer; and Two Boys Kissing (out this very week) about which David says, “In honor of its release, and tying very much to its themes, I will be giving two dollars for each copy sold in the first three weeks to The Trevor Project, an amazing organization that supports queer youth. So buy early and buy often and help me support an amazing cause.”

Thank you, David, for taking the time to talk with me about your teen years, your work as an editor, and your fantastic books.

Always Something There to Remind Me

Photo by Jake Hamilton
Photo by Jake Hamilton

Please describe your teenage self.

Bookish, happy, well adjusted.  Not a large leap from my current self.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  Why?

I knew words would be involved in some way, but had to figure out which way.  (In the end, I feel like I chose them all, or at least a few variations.)  If you’d asked me in high school, I probably would have guessed I would have become a journalist or an editor.  I wouldn’t have been surprised at being a novelist, but I definitely would have been impressed that I’d managed to finish something.

What were your high school years like?

I was at Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ, and I liked it.  There was a lot of pressure to get into a good college, but at some point I came to peace with the fact that I was never going to be in the top ten in my class (amusingly, I ended up at #11), so I didn’t devote my life to my homework.  I did, however, devote much of my life to my friends; for most of high school, it was a core group of about seven girls and me, and then senior year it was my two closest best friends (who were sophomores)–we called ourselves Siberia, which is really all you need to know.  Only in this case, Siberia was located very close to the mall, and everyone else.  Oh, and I was reading all the time.  I wrote authors’ names on my jeans.  I was that cool.

Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with David Levithan

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Elizabeth Knox

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I should mention right up front that I was a member of the 2008 Michael L. Printz Award committee that selected Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamquake as an Honor Book. And while committee deliberations are always confidential, I think it’s okay for me to say that Dreamquake was one of my bleed on the table, do-or-die books that year, a book that, for me, came out of nowhere, a book I ended up loving So Much that my amazing committee let me keep the “official” copy with the shiny sticker on it.

When I started Dreamquake I was unfamiliar with its author, and I didn’t realize it was actually a sequel until I was almost done, so I was beyond thrilled to find not only an additional Southland tale, Dreamhunter, but a number of other (adult) titles to savor. Her third young adult novel, Mortal Fire, was published just last month to widespread critical acclaim and is absolutely one of my favorite books of the year. If you haven’t had the pleasure, read it immediately, and then check out the short story “A Visit to the House on Terminal Hill” and the various blog posts Elizabeth wrote to accompany publication. Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to talk with me, for your thoughtful answers, and for sending such excellent photographs to accompany this interview.

Always Something There to Remind Me

elizabeth knoxPlease describe your teenage self.

I was small, flat-chested, fiery, forceful, and exacting. Depending on how I dressed I could pass as a 13-year-old boy or 20-year-old ballerina (which was useful for getting into R-rated films). I was a burdened teenager. I had to look after too many people.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I decided at 16 that I wanted to be a novelist. It wasn’t so much wanting to “be a writer” as to spend my life telling stories and walking around hand-in-hand with some narrative. Why I knew that’s what I wanted had more to do with the long and involved narrative game I played with my sisters and a friend than with any relationship I had with books. The game was a detailed, immersive, adventurous other life we had. I spent as much time as I possibly could being other people — people with more control over their very exciting lives.

Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Elizabeth Knox

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Malinda Lo

This is the third interview in a series; check out the previous interviews with Melina Marchetta and David Maciniss Gill.

I love unique riffs on fairy tales, and when I heard about Ash I was totally excited. This is partly because Cinderella is one of my least favorite fairy tales and I’m always hoping for a retelling that transforms the story elements I dislike, that redeems the too-familiar plot points and often-stagnant setting, and that offers a new twist or memorable characters. Malinda Lo’s Ash and its companion novel Huntress certainly didn’t disappoint. And then came Adaptation, a contemporary science fiction novel (the first in a series) that hits all my freaky conspiracy theories and aliens buttons perfectly.

While waiting for the sequel, Inheritance to be released this September, I’ve spent a lot of time over at Diversity in YA, the site Lo and author Cindy Pon created to explore and “celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability.” If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. (And if you’re going to be at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago this weekend, make sure you add the APALA President’s Program, “Pushing the Boundaries: Presentation and Representation of LGBTQ Members of/by Asian/Pacific American Writers” to your schedule!)

Thank you so much, Malinda, for talking with me!

Always Something There to Remind Me

mlo2_bypattynason_hiPlease describe your teenage self.

Exploding with feelings. Suffocated.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer because I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s the one thing that has been a constant my entire life, so there is no why; it simply is.

What were your high school years like?

I went to high school in Lafayette, Colorado. I did not enjoy myself there, and while I somehow have become an author of young adult novels, it’s certainly not because I loved being a teenager. I remember yearning impatiently for adulthood. I could not wait to get out of high school and start my life as an adult.

What were some of your passions during that time?

Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Malinda Lo

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with David Macinnis Gill

This is the second interview in a series; check out the first interview with Melina Marchetta.

I was on my way to the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, and everyone seemed to be buzzing about this book called Soul Enchilada, which had been nominated for YALSA’s 2010 Best Books for Young Adults list. I bumped it to the top of the to-read pile, devoured it in huge chunks over a long weekend, and then spent a lot of time talking about why there should be a sequel (which — despite a lot of good textual reasons — basically boiled down to “because I want one!”). I loved the multicultural setting and characters, the witty dialogue, the over-the-top plot machinations, and the sly Biblical references and Faustian deal-with-the-devil twists. So when Black Hole Sun appeared a year later, I was thrilled.

There’s not nearly enough straight-up science fiction for teens (yes, there’s some — I wrote about it earlier, and other Hub bloggers wrote about it here, here, and here.), but the Sun books (Black Hole Sun, Invisible Sun, and the recently-released Shadow on the Sun) are an awesome addition. I mean, supercharged old-school Mars setting? Inventive technology and killer wildlife? Messy planetary politics? Messier interpersonal dynamics? Yes, please! Thank you David, for agreeing to talk with me about your teen years and about your books.

Always Something There to Remind Me

GillDavidMacinnis ap1 cPlease describe your teenage self.

Comic book nerd. Movie buff. TV sitcom aficionado. Avid reader. Closet novelist. Quiet. Completely without fashion sense. Wickedly funny if you were close enough to hear me.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

Since I was six, I dreamed of being one thing: a professional baseball player. Sadly, a profound lack of talent and athleticism led me to fall back on the one gift I do have, the ability to tell lies freely and with great abandon, also known as writing fiction.

What were your high school years like?

Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with David Macinnis Gill

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Melina Marchetta

Authors are often asked where they get their ideas from, and most have a ready answer to that ubiquitous question. I’ve always wondered, though, not where their ideas come from, but how they became the people who had them. It seems like the teen years are almost universally formative, whether they’re dismal, euphoric, or something in between, which is what brings me to this interview, the first in a series where we get to find out a little bit about the teenage experiences of YA writers. Each interview will follow the same basic pattern: a set list of teen-centric questions, a handful of questions specific to the author, and finally an author-to-author question where the current author asks a question of the next author in the series. Because I am a true child of the 80’s, because my teen years were definitely formative, and because I don’t think you ever really get over the music of your youth, I’ve given each section of these interviews an awesome 80’s song title to differentiate between the types of questions.

To paraphrase Love & Rockets, I think you have to believe in where you’re going, but not lose your yesterdays, and I’m supremely grateful that so many extraordinary authors have agreed to share their experiences with us.

MelinaMarchetta_photoby_JamesBrickwoodThe first Melina Marchetta book I read was Saving Francesca, just after it was published in the U.S. I remember liking it very, very much and mentally adding her to the list of authors to watch. Years later I picked up Jellicoe Road, a book I might have missed due solely to my own fickle reading habits, but which I grabbed after it received the 2009 Printz Award. (As a member of the 2008 Printz committee I was super curious about their choices, and boy did they make some brilliant ones!) I tore through Jellicoe Road, mad to learn its secrets and put all the pieces together, then immediately started over so I could really appreciate how masterfully it was crafted. And then came Finnikin of the Rock and I was basically head over heels in love, not to mention in awe of her ability to move so seamlessly from contemporary fiction to epic fantasy. A lifelong, dedicated fantasy reader, I inhaled the Lumatere Chronicles, including the companion story, “Ferragost,” and have been talking about them incessantly ever since. So you can imagine my excitement and gratitude when Melina graciously agreed to open this interview series for the Hub. Thank you so much, Melina!

Always Something There to Remind Me

Please describe your teenage self.

A good observer of the world, but definitely a wallflower.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Melina Marchetta

Welcome to The Hub

Welcome to The Hub, YALSA’s new blog specifically dedicated to young adult literature!  For over 50 years YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association) has been supporting and connecting librarians who work with teens.  Over the years being a librarian and being a library user has changed in ways people could never have imagined.  Reading itself has changed!

We embrace the fact that reading can mean reading a traditional book in a new format (iPad, Kindle, etc.) or reading a story written in an untraditional way (for example, entirely in text messages).  And we especially embrace that the internet connects millions of readers every day and provides thousands of ways for people to share their thoughts about what they’re reading, log what they read, connect with authors, become an author, and more.

We hope you’ll visit The Hub daily for a peek into what the online world is saying about YA books.  You’ll find fresh original writing about what teens are reading, book reviews, introductions to other YA lit blogs, podcasts, videos, and more.

Thanks for stopping by and connecting with us!

Sarah Debraski
Blog Manager