Detritus from the Brainbox

Bon jour, good people,

I have the dubious privilege of going to guest lecture at my alma mater on the state of publishing. The lecture is not for a Children’s Lit. Course (those are on even years), but a regular Creative Writing class. It’s amusing for me, because for the most part these allegedly “Easy A,” basic undergrad courses are not filled with English majors, but with …PreMed students. Which should be an education in itself. Anyway. In researching what I’m going to say to these august persons, I always find myself having to further clarify what I do, who I want to write for, and why it should interest my listeners.

I ran across a good bit of information on trends in YA publishing on YA librarian Kelly Milner Hallswebsite. As both a writer on YA writing and a YA librarian, Halls does a lot of key research that we as writers would do well to appreciate. Halls suggests checking out “Connecting Young Adults and Libraries”, a book by Patrick Jones, another librarian. Jones identifies seven developmental needs of young adults in order to help YA librarians understand and so better serve their target audience. Because YA writers should be striving to meet that same goal, the list is invaluable to them too.

Probably the most important thing Halls mentions in conjunction with her reading of Jones’ book is that YA readers want a chance to read the truth — your version. As YA novels become more inclusive, the stories that are told are no longer solely stories about Anglo-Saxon characters, upwardly mobile or upper middle class characters, or characters with single gender identities or only subtly dysfunctional families. The thing that keeps me excited about writing, and talking about writing, (even to pre-Med students) is that the truth of one of my stories that might someday resonate with a young adult — my truth. I’m not sure there’s any other line of work where my truth has that kind of value.

Back to the keyboard.

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