aka YA Literature
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
1) What was your dissertation about?
Late 19th century and early 20th century British illustrated novels -- their publishing histories and their reception. Sherlock Holmes. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Trilby by George duMaurier.
2) Can you describe the process of making a novel into an audiobook? How is it decided whether or not a book will be made into an audiobook? How involved, if at all, are you in the decision process and then the production? How happy have you been with the audio versions of your books so far? [You know how I love audiobooks!]
It's pretty minimal, in terms of what an author does. The Boyfriend List and Fly on the Wall were audiobooks, but my other books have not been. Basically, the publishing house reps your audio rights -- and if they sell them, they inform you. You get some money, but not oceans of it.
I had a chat with the producer, but they hired actors without my input. I was invited to come and see the process -- which is pretty interesting. I mean, it's a woman reading your MS in a soundproof room, with a director and a technician telling her when to stop and start -- but it was interesting to me, to see how the director coached the actor, and to hear the actor reading my words. They had slightly early version of the MS for Boyfriend List, so people who listen to the audiobook are subjected to a few awkward phrases and irrelevant sentences that I axed from the final version!
In the end, I can't listen to the audios. I think the actors were probably great, but the text sounds so different inside my head, I couldn't deal with hearing it interpreted another way. It's a good thing I'm not a playwright!
3) What person(s) who has not yet contributed a boyfriend/girlfriend list to your site would you most like to see do one?
I love having YA authors I admire. I guess if I could pick just one it would be Louise Rennison, author of Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, etc. I think she must have a doozy of a boyfriend list, and all her writing cracks me up.
The next questions were inspired by my recent reading of "Bake Sale: A Ruby Oliver Story," which is part of the short story compilation Not Like I'm Jealous or Anything.
4) What are you good at cooking?
I am a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself. I have people over for dinner every week. My mom taught me the basics, and I learned the rest from cookbooks. This week I am making a celariac salad from Julia Child, and a feta/watermelon/cilantro salad, among other things. I am not a sophisticated baker, but I do love to make cakes. Here is the most insane cake I ever made. It is a taj-mahal ice palace, with rock candy and gummy penguins.
5) What's something you've done that you otherwise wouldn't -- just to impress a guy?
I took scuba-diving lessons.
6) Fill in the blanks to these cliches:
The way to a guy's heart is through . . . well -- in The Boy Book, Cricket says "the nether regions!" But I think she is wrong.
The way to a girl's heart is through . . . Hm. I once fell for a guy because he sang songs outside my window in the middle of the night. He really did. It was very very silly. BUt it wouldn't have worked if I hadn't already liked him. THe singing just made me FALL.
7) I liked what Ruby has to say about the importance of thoughtful gifts. What is the best gift you've ever received? Given? (or at least one of the best)
Honestly, I like a love letter. I don't remember the presents. I remember the notes that went with them.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Although it is no longer active, Gary Paulson wrote a wonderful letter on the Jackson County Library blog about the impact of libraries on his life. His open letter can be found here.
I feel for all the library staff members who lost jobs they loved dearly. I feel even more for those communities who lost such an invaluable resource.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Title: Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
The Bad: I didn't really care for the unrealistic setting of Mr. Levithan's novel. I mean, a high school with a quarterback who's a drag queen....
Title: Rainbow Boys
Author: Alex Sanchez
The Good: Rainbow Boys is perhaps the most realistic portrayal of gay life (at least gay life as I've known it.) It has a rawness that most YA books seem afraid to touch...I mean, the teens in this book actually have sex (of course, all graphic details are left out.) The book breeches several of the key issues gay teens face - bullying, safe sex, HIV/AIDS, and the struggle of finding one's self.
The Bad: I have found that there is a standard format for most gay teen literature. Usually there are 3 character types: 1) the average boy that floats the middle range of the high school social ladder; 2) the openly gay character that is extremely flamboyant and hated by most of the student body; and 3) the closeted super jock (quarterback, captain of the basketball team). I found that Rainbow Boys falls too heavily into this overly-used format.
Title: Geography Club
Author: Brent Hartinger
The Good: I really liked how prominently the Internet played in the teens meeting other gays. I also liked the underground nature of the student's gay organization....both very realistic aspects.
The Bad: As with Rainbow Boys, I felt that this book relied too heavily on the 3 archetype characters. This was by far the weakest of the three novels I've reviewed.
When I was at TLA, I signed up to receive some ARCs of various YA books. I was so excited to get a box of books in the mail last week, one of which was Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass. Heaven is unusual because it is written in verse. Normally that would be a turn off for me, but this is written and a very simple, easy to follow way. Here is the opening paragraph to the novel:
For fifty cents and a Gobstopper
I lifted my shirt for the neighborhood boys.
My oldest brother Matt caught us
and chased the boys with a
Word got around, and at nine years old
I became the girl
other girls' moms
didn't want them to play with.
I read this book in under an hour (with interruptions). I wouldn't be surprised if ALA chose this as one of their Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. The main character, Tessa, sometimes does mean things and she is not always likable, but that is what makes her so real.
Oh, one other thing that I love is the book cover uses fonts from actual mall store name fonts (did that make any sense?).
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Monday, May 21, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
"Gilmore Girls" is being cancelled and "Gossip Girls" is starting? Uggh, I sure hope the series is better than the books, but even if it is, do we really need another show like that? Although, I guess every generation usually has one (whether or not they need it . . . ); example: "Beverly Hills 90210." I have an idea for my women's studies thesis or maybe just a journal or MLA conference paper where I write about the messages in Gossip Girls. (I also have this idea for an academic LFA paper, but I haven't had any incentive to flesh it out at all.)
BTW, although I used to really like "Gilmore Girls," I never liked Alexis Bledel as Rory. Sorry. Oh, and Jared Padalecki used to do interp in high school in San Antonio.
Continuing the Bayern Saga from her previous two novels (Goose Girl and Enna Burning), River Secrets picks up at the war's end with the main characters headed on a mission to ensure that peace is maintained. As with her past novels, old characters wrestle to control their powers (Wind Speech and Fire Speech), while new characters emerged with new and equally impressive powers.
Although the superhuman powers remain a key focus in this novel as in her past works, River Secrets follows Razo, whose lack of superhuman powers, make for a more believable and realistic tale which still manages to weave elements of the outrageous into an extraordinary adventure story.
Although Ms. Shannon's fantasy world is highly different from that of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, I find that many teens who enjoyed Twilight also love Hale's tales from Bayern! All I can say is write quickly, Ms. Hale...I expect a fourth installment soon!
I’m not going to do a full “review” on this since I read it instead of listening to it, but let me say this. I read it in less than 24 hours, and I loved it. Loved. It.
Some random thoughts:
- I love how, unlike many other YA books I’ve been reading lately, they didn’t bother to explain all the bands, movies, and other allusions, even when teens are likely not to know who/what they’re talking about. Excellent. That’s how books should be.
- Of course every girl wants a guy to write a song for/about her (especially if he’s cool and cute)! Poetry is a little more iffy since there’s a greater chance for badness and cheese.
- Norah likes Lucinda Williams. I totally saw her in concert like three weeks ago (LW, not Norah, as Norah is a fictional character).
- Do you hold hands by intertwining your fingers or do web-to-web? Discuss.
- Norah said she can pass the Pepsi Challenge just by smelling. I totally said the exact same thing when I took it in 7th grade at Splashtown! And let me just say how bogus it is that they use that to say that people “prefer” Pepsi in taste tests. People are not identifying which drink they like better. They’re trying to identify Pepsi because if they do, they get a (stupid little) prize like a Pepsi koozie (which then serves as more advertising for Pepsi, if people actually use it and not throw it into a junk drawer).
- The RWA needs to nominate this for their best YA book because if this doesn’t “guide” teens towards adult romances, I don’t know what will. The almost-sex scene is so totally like (but yet better written and hotter and more explicit than many of) the ones I read in romance novels.
- When Norah was describing how Tal wanted her to be more political, more Jewish, more vegan, more kosher, etc., I kept thinking of “Whatever” by Guy Forsyth. This should have been in the playlist, as this is an excellent and utterly perfect song. (Admittedly, it's probably not Nick and Norah's style, though.)
- Despite the fact that I liked the characters a lot, I don’t know if I’d like them as much in real life. Or at least, I think they (especially Norah) might get on my nerves because they are music snobs. I really don’t like people who get all snobby about music and, like, only like “underground” music. I don’t like all music or all kinds of music, but I’m not a snob about it. However, I know we’re all snobs about something (at least one thing, if not more). One of my ex-boyfriend’s friends is a total restaurant snob. We couldn’t go eat somewhere one time because it wasn’t “unique.” Other people are snobby about movies. If I’m being honest, I think I’m probably snobby about fashion sense. I mean, people should have some.*
* Kind of fun story: I was at the mall in San Antonio and I was walking behind this girl and guy. The girl was wearing jeans tucked into these suede boots that had fur on top of them and a stringy cut up tank top and a beret. I was thinking, “Uggh, that looks so stupid and I bet she thinks she looks really great.” Then a little later, my brother says, “Hey, Paris Hilton is in Hot Topic.” I go over to look because I don’t believe him, and guess what she’s wearing.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
a. He is much too famous now.
b. We have gushed over him way too much on this blog. It would be embarrassing if he ever read it. And my constant references to him as my boyfriend don't help.
c. Cody has written two very unflattering entries about him which I would also not want John to see. I feel that Cody is a bit jealous of John Green because John Green rivals Cody in geeky hotness.
I know that everyone (all three of us) here at A True Reality would love to interview Stephenie Meyer. Interviewing her would be like someone from my high school newspaper interviewing (insert famous movie star name here).
Maybe there won't be interviews with Stephenie Meyer or John Green on this blog. BUT, we will be doing some more author interviews (via email, of course). And we promise not to ask lame questions like "Who is your favorite character and why?".
Of course, not everyone looks back fondly on their first loves, as some of the artwork on Patricia Waller's website can attest.
Whether they ended amicably or not, it is undeniable that adolescent romances are powerful and shouldn't be shrugged off as puppy love. Some YA books that do a great job depicting the intensity of first love are:
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Looking for Alaska by
Monday, May 14, 2007
Devilish by Maureen Johnson
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Midnighters #2: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld (wonder what it's like to compete against your spouse for an award)
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Scott has a fun blog entry about Justine's win and his Paris tour here.
Friday, May 11, 2007
You said in an earlier interview with Jeffrey Yamaguchi that you wanted to create a scratch-and-sniff book for grown-ups. Were adults your intended audience when you wrote this? Do you think adults would experience the book differently from teens?
Yes, I set out to create a cool book for adults—as opposed to children. It struck me as unfair that little kids have all the fun--like scratch-and-sniff books and stickers and glitter! So I started with the format, then; came up with the characters: two cool chicks whose quest would lead them backstage at a rock-and-roll show; and the story, which had to be funny.
If you’re an adult and you pick up Backstage with Beth and Trina, I’d hope that you’d have the same reaction as a young adult: “This book is really cool, but it is fiction--and I probably should not try that at home.” Some may look back a decade or more into their own pasts to see a bit of Beth and Trina in themselves--and some might look as far back as last weekend to see how much fun the culture (I think we can call it culture) of live rock shows can be.
How did you pick the names Beth and Trina?
Beth is named after a song by Kiss. Though I was never a huge Kiss fan, this particular ballad, “Beth,” is one that every classic rock aficionado just knows. If you haven't heard it--it's on their Destroyer album (and while you're there, check out "Detroit Rock City" and "Shout It Out Loud," too). With all due respect to all of the charming and lovely Trinas out there (and I know that there are some out there!), that name came to me when I pictured the semi-trashy girls from my high school days who wore lots of makeup and were a little loud and fast in everything they did. "Trina" struck me as a great groupie name.
Is Beth and Trina's experience really your idea of the "best night ever," or is it more tongue-in-cheek?
For me personally, yeah, it would be super-cool to hit a club with my bestest friend and, uh, "get to know" the hot, hot, hot lead signer of my favorite band. (But I wouldn’t want my night to include burning hair and alleyway vomit.)
What is your most memorable backstage experience?
Sharing drinks and stories backstage with INXS (many, many moons ago) and seeing a pair of tight black jeans with white skulls all over them approaching slowly from a distance. Before I saw his face, I knew that it had to be Michael Hutchence. He was so incredibly beautiful, I couldn’t breathe. Or standing 8 feet away from David Bowie. OMG! But then again maybe the most memorable time was at the 2000 Millennium party at MTV where I did kiss a very handsome (and very wasted) lead singer of a very great band (who probably does not remember). Let’s not tell the guy who brought me to the show, OK?
Have you experienced any backlash or objections to your book?
None at all. Even my mom thought it was pretty funny. And I was thrilled beyond when I learned that it was an ALA Quick Pick. But then I read your A True Reality post about your library system and was a little heartbroken. Books serve many functions in our world. Of course there’s education and inspiration, and literacy and fantasy, but entertainment is important, too, and getting a person to pick up a book, despite the all of the other distractions out there… Some folks might find the content “racy,” but Beth and Trina practice safe sex and they don’t drink and drive. What more can I say?
Do you plan on writing more books? Will they be similar to Backstage or do you want to explore other types of writing?
Absolutely! I've got a few book ideas percolating right now—fiction and nonfiction. Topics include: nerds, Shakespeare, rock icons, photography, and ghosts. They won’t all be scratch-and-sniff books, but they are all a little visual and a lot of fun. Some are for teens, some are for adults, and some are for kiddies.
And, of course, I’d like to publish more adventures with Beth and Trina! Oh, the places they’ll go…
Thursday, May 10, 2007
The novel begins with the main character, Colin, being dumped by his latest Katherine...the 19th Katherine in a long list of ex-girlfriends all baring the same name. Crushed over this and the fear that his past as a child prodigy won't translate into adulthood genius, Colin and his best friend solve all their problems in the only way possible...a road trip to Tennessee!
Although I'll praise Mr. Green for a few humorous scenes and some nice turn-of-phrase, overall this work lacked anything worth discussing. I found the novel to be dull and highly predictable (even by YA standards). It almost seemed as though Mr. Green wrote this novel while watching late, late movies and incorporating trite movie plots into his work. My recommendation is to just read the interesting footnotes and forget the rest!
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
The Book: So Yesterday
The Author: Scott Westerfeld
The Narrator: Scott Brick
Book Rating: B/B+
Audio Rating: C+
I didn't totally get the project that the Jammers were working on. While I'm a nerd and like historical allusions and such, I thought Hunter/Westerfeld spent a little too much time explaining historical events. Maybe it's because he's writing for a teen audience and feels the need to be explanatory, but it sometimes feels didactic. If he took the historical allusions and condensed them way down and had more confidence in his readers, I think this would move the plot along faster and address some of the things I mentioned in my Westerfeld into. Readers, even teen readers, are smart! They can get it. And if they miss some stuff here and there, that's okay. We don't have to be told everything. In fact, I kind of like it better that way. I love when I can go back and "get" more from books I read before, either because I know more, am older and wiser, or I just notice things I didn't the first time. That's one reason I love The Handmaid's Tale so much. I know I didn't get all the allusions and symbolism in it, but its complexity is what made it so great. I find the historical explanations interesting, but it gets in the way of my enjoyment of the fiction. I really did like Hunter's parents--very realistic reactions.
Let me preface this by saying that if you like straight-up narration without voices for each character, then you'll probably like this performance a lot better than I did. Brick's interview with Audiofile said that he "understands the author's intent," and I would certainly agree. I can't think of any places in the book where I thought he wasn't capturing Westerfeld just as I interpreted him.
Like I said, one of my main drawbacks was the lack of character voices and differentiation. Also, I thought his voice was just way too old for Hunter and didn't fit. Brick sounded like the guy who narrated this video on advertising that I used to show my students (ironic, eh?).
P.S. I LOVE the cover of this book! Westerfeld's website for this book is also pretty cool.
Monday, May 7, 2007
So here are two questions for you: (1) Do you think there are certain YA books that would "guide" teens towards adult romances? (2) What books that you've read would be worthy of a YA Romance of the Year award?
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Upcoming Frenemies of the Library events at my library:
Skating @ the Library
Ok, now I know there are those that will say the library installed those kickass ramps because of some ADA law....WRONG! What better way to pass the afternoon than to host an extreme sports competition. I mean, what's the worst that could happen, a free trip in an abulance? And, as an added bonus, it will also give you a change to distribute all your lastest skating and car periodicals. Save your library the time of cataloging and processing of these items and merely give them away so that your teens don't have to go to the trouble of stealing them all! I see nothing but a win-win situation here.
Kickin', Screamin', and Gamin'
Host a special evening of online gaming for your teens. Now, unlike most computer program your library hosts, this should NOT take place in a special computer lab. Instead, scatter your teens on random computers throughout your quietest areas of your reference section. Now, have the teens compete...whichever can make the most noise while doing the most pointless computer activity will win. I recommend hosting this program in the early evenings...right when the majority of your adult population is trying to actually use the computers for meaningful reasons - it will be fun all around.
According to a study by Harvard University in 1995, at least 2.5% of teens identify themselves as homsexual. I don't know if that number has changed since then, but I do know that this is too many students to marginalize and ignore. Many studies have shown that homosexual teens are among the most at risk for using drugs, depression, homelessness, and suicide. Indeed, suicide is the leading cause of death among homosexual teens. I'm not saying that having YA literature in your high school library will prevent this, but a study by George Washington University did find that "gay sensitive" schools do improve the lives of the gay students who attend. I think having appropriate and relevant materials in the library is part of this (not to mention I believe it probably has benefits to non-gay teens as well). What is more important, that gay teens have access to materials and an environment that makes them feel healthy and safe, or someone's desire not to have such materials available (although they never have to use them personally)?
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Author: Melissa de la Cruz