Oh, man, is it ONLY Tuesday!? I need a vacation already. Actually, I’ve just read that the U. of Hawai’i at Manoa is having their Thirteenth Biennial Conference on Literature: Imagining Other Lives, Other Times, Other Places, and I’m wishing I was going. Put on by Children’s Literature Hawai’i, the conference features one of my favorite middle grade writers, Karen Hesse, and I just realized that if the PhD plans I had only a few years ago had panned out, I’d already be there. Sigh.
(Actually, I’m not sure what the sigh was for… I have enough to do this week without homework!)
Well, I feel slightly vindicated for my little grip last week on how so much of YA fiction is turning into a long commercial to a particular brand of something or other, since Monday’s New York Times carried a piece on the same thing. Though there is still no money changing hands (and that’s really intriguing to me – would you, as a writer, do free advertising?) CoverGirl cosmetics is well mentioned in Cathy’s Book, and the company is launching a website in August to help tie the two.
Despite the buzz, this pat-my-back, I’ll-pat-yours routine isn’t anything new, really. I guess it’s simply the first time there’s been a formalized arrangement of you change that eyeliner to a color we make, we list your novel on our website, but there are some issues that bear deeper thought. How long is your publisher going to be your publisher if they’re taking funds from someone else to create your book? How long until that touches you as the writer?, On one hand, it’s a nifty idea to have websites and addresses where readers can get more information on the book, and from what I hear of the novel, it’s kind of an updated, choose-your-own-adventure which uses technology to go even further with the storyline. That’s excellent! On the other hand… further ad space for makeup products? Even a tiny bit of marketing to teen readers seems in bad taste. Mmm, gonna have to think about that one…
The Chron did a great piece this morning on Frank Portman and his new novel that’s already generated so much excitement (in its FIFTH printing after only two months on the shelves – wow!) King Dork. I had to laugh at Portman’s assumption that someday he’d be a literati, smoking a pipe and teaching school somewhere like Maine. Yeah, that’s how all humanities majors start out, isn’t it? And then you interact with both academia and reality for a bit, and realize you might need to think again. This novel wasn’t necessarily on top of my must-read list (okay, I admit it – I’ve grown out of my punk band phase), but the enthused folks at ‘not your mother’s bookclub’ have talked it up so much that it’s rapidly moving to the top of my pile.