YA seems to be provoking a lot of authors and book industry critics these days. Not too long ago the YA community was pissed off at the WSJ's editorial that slammed YA as being too dark, and today I saw this link to a slate.com article by two so-called YA authors commenting on their move from fiction and journalism to YA.
The tone of the article is glib and condescending, especially to those of us who have studied our craft for years (decades) and take our writing for teens SERIOUSLY. Most YA authors (the real ones), agonize over word choice and authentic character development just as much as those who write literary (adult) fiction. But writing for teens also means dealing with delicate issues such as sex or violence, in the most appropriate (to the story and audience) way.
It bothers me that these two writers were given an opportunity to reach out to this emerging genre, and possibly grow their own writing careers, but all they do is dump on it. They (literally) mock YA. They appear to be horrified by writing sex scenes: "When it's completed, the other one innocently asks to make a pass "for editing" and then reads it aloud in a mocking voice and turns the most embarrassing lines into an email signature." Possibly the most offensive comment they make is: "We are being paid good money to be literary predators and come for people's children." I don't even know what to say about that; it speaks for itself.
Other lines of note: "There's no shame in Y.A." and then "It's an opportunity to relive high school in a more perfect manner." What troubles me about these lines is it seems as if the decision to write for teens has been based on very superficial reasons, which really takes from the integrity of the genre.
I'm sure that these two authors did not intend to offend YA writers. Perhaps they were intentionally glib or thought their comments were funny.
But I didn't laugh, not once.
I don't think anyone laughed other than the idiots that wrote the article.
I teach sixth grade, and my students read avidly. It wouldn't surprise me to find that a student or two would come across an article like the one you are citing, drawn there maybe by a Google search on a favorite author's name. Having said that, those comments are just as insulting to those that read YA as they are to those that write it. My students are on the young side of the YA audience, but they know when they are being mocked and they don't like it. The authors you write about are hurting their own fan base as well as their image in the market.
I get why we're upset about the article written by the two YA writing partners, although at times I was willing to cut them slack for trying to take a lighthearted attitude about their jobs and not taking themselves too seriously, but I'm really worried about the WSJ article. That author seems to be advocating cencorship without actually stating it directly. That's some scary stuff; cencorship might be the slipperiest of slippery slopes. The article appears to want to quietly undermine freedom of expression with the intention of building a following who will do the job of finishing it off later. Perhaps, if there's such a groundswell of support, they could all simply boycott the books to which they object. If the books don't sell, publishers won't be so interested in duplicating and triplicating (and so on, ad nauseum)the same drivel. Just sayin' . . .
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