In bringing together a 15-year-old author, a toon production company and the world’s largest SVOD service, new young-adult film The Kissing Booth tells a lot about evolving creative processes in 2016.
Netflix is adapting the novel written and published by rookie teen author Beth Reekles on Wattpad, where it garnered more than 19 million views on the online free publishing site. UK-based film and TV production company Komixx Media Group is producing the feature-length film for the SVOD, with writer/director Vince Marcello (Teen Beach Movie) on-board to direct from his own screenplay.
For Komixx, which produces preschool series Toby’s Travelling Circus and Wanda and the Alien, the Netflix commission represents a milestone in its strategy to acquire and produce more YA drama for tweens and teens.
So what on earth could I have against kids reading YA, which at least generally includes characters of the ‘right’ age?
Partly, it’s because many of them aren’t, in fact, properly adult books. Of course there are great YA writers – Meg Rosoff, Patrick Ness, Mal Peet, Phil Earle, Sarah Crossan, Faye Bird, Jo Nadin and many others, who are among our finest contemporary writers, irrespective of age or genre. But too much of the rest is dross, presenting watered down, bowdlerised versions of life, selling kitsch ideas and witlessly soft-focus romantic reflections of reality – and yes, I’m looking at you, John Green.
YA genre fiction (SF and fantasy) is particularly anaemic. The endless lazy dystopias, with kick-ass heroines saving the world from some unconvincing mega government, the sexy vampire bullshit, the boringly overdone quirky superhero novel – please, no more. Honestly, the kids would be far better off encountering adult SF and fantasy, where their minds might be stretched, rather than their preconceptions cosily nurtured.
the full piece via YA or Not YA – Barrington Stoke.
To bursts of nervous laughter, YA author Anthony McGowan kicked it off by citing Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of YA was crap, pandered to by an audience that treated the whole thing as a “this kind of amorphous quasi religion”, more of a cult than category. He lamented speaking to “monocultural audiences” of white, older women at YA conferences. Some misogynistic, cause-and-effect musing began: most YA bloggers were women, all his editors were women, “so there is a huge amount of energy directing these kinds of texts, texts that may well appeal to women in their 20s and 30s rather than to teenagers. We’ve got this female-dominated world producing texts that reflect themselves, for other young adult women,” he said, perhaps unaware of the significance of making links between gender and perceived quality.
YA may not be a genre (it is a category, as is so often sighed), but the debate devolved into a value judgment regardless, as debates around genre so often do. “I don’t think adults should read YA stuff,” McGowan argued, as authors such as Elizabeth Wein and Philip Womack disagreed. “I think they should move on and read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky or Dickens and stop reading Twilight and The Hunger Games,” McGowan said. “It is part of being a grown-up, you leave those things behind.”
You should also read McGowan’s more nuanced take on this subject here:
Andersen Press has acquired a YA novel by debut author and bookseller Catherine Barter.
Fiction editor Chloe Sackur acquired world rights from Laura Williams at PFD.
Sackur said: “I believe Catherine is a bright new star in British YA fiction. Troublemakers is an achingly honest coming-of-age novel about family, and the politicised world we live in. It’s got something to say for itself but it still wears its heart on its sleeve.”
The title will be published June 2017.
full piece via Bookseller Barter’s YA debut snapped up | The Bookseller.
Wild Words Children’s Book Festival has rapidly gained its reputation as Ireland’s best Young Adult (YA) writing festival.This is primarily because Wild Words has attracted teenagers back to books and because the festival has picked up on the zeitgeist; a golden age for young adult books. Extraordinarily talented writers like Sarah Crossan, Dave Rudden and Eilís Barrett who are all part of this new wave underpin the reputation of the festival.With masterclasses, workshops, readings and other activities, the festival has plenty for every age group. This year however, with a wealth of new titles hitting the bookshelves, there is a strong emphasis on books for young adults.When Dave Rudden was at Wild Words last year he had just signed a six-figure book deal with Puffin. Those in attendance got a sneak preview of Knights of the Borrowed Dark. It has since been published – and it’s great. Rudden has been noted as “an author to watch” and Knights of the Borrowed Dark described as “a pacy, entertaining read, but with a heart, too.”It’s been a great year for Sarah Crossan too. Her new novel One, which tells the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi, has earned her the Bookseller’s Young Adult Book Prize, the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year and the CILIP Carnegie Medal. For Wild Words Sarah will be giving a masterclass and appearing alongside first time author Eilís Barrett, who at 16 years of age has already published her first novel Oasis, fulfilling one of her life ambitions. Oasis tells the story of Quincy Emerson, a young girl who is on the run because she carries the X gene that causes a virus that nearly wiped out the human race. The book is gripping and all aspiring young authors will want to meet this remarkable young woman.
Not sure I agree with Anthony McGowan when he says, “Some of these books appeal to me, as an adult, because they are not teenage books at all.”
He seems to be discounting the possibility that teenage or YA fiction is capable of also satisfying an adult reader.
Just because I, an adult, enjoy reading a particular YA novel, doesn’t make it any less YA.
I’m currently reading RADIO SILENCE by Alice Oseman, a novel deeply embedded in teen experience and culture. It’s very clearly not a book that would have been suited to a publisher’s adult fiction list, but that doesn’t prevent it being a good adult as well as a good teen read.
So what’s the problem? Well, I’d contend that at least some of these books appeal to me, as an adult, because they are not teenage books at all. They are adult fiction. The themes, the style, often even the characters belong in the world of adult literature. It is just some quirk of publishing that has left them washed up on the YA shore. For example, Mal Peet’s masterpiece, Life: An Exploded Diagram, was simply the best novel I read in 2011. It should have been up for the Booker prize. It was published as YA because Mal had always been published as YA.
Alongside these many fine novels there is plenty of dross. As with most areas of publishing, YA follows the 90% rule. And much YA is a lazy, disheartening mush of false problems, fake solutions, idealised romance, second-rate fantasy, tired dystopias. Easy to read; easy to forget.
But my main concern isn’t with quality. For me, the problem is that a huge amount of theoretically teenage publishing is churning out books that simply aren’t for teenagers at all. And that must mean, given the finite opportunities for new books, that “real” teenage books aren’t getting published.
When it was published 20 years ago, Junk was a long shot. Teenage fiction at the time was really aimed at 11 and 12-year-olds. Maybe the occasional 14-year-old might read down to it, but no one seriously thought that 15 or 16-year-olds would read it. I remember some librarians saying that they thought it was a great book, but that it’s likely fate was to languish on the shelves.
Why a book about drugs? I come from one of the first generations when recreational drugs were widely available, and of course, many of us at school were very curious. There was no useful information about that world – the authorities were all saying how awful and deadly drugs were, but the Beatles and Stones seemed to be having a fairly good time. By the time I was in my 20s, drugs culture was full blown, but ignorance, officially sanctioned in law, was still the order of the day.
I was living in Bristol, in the middle of that heady, inner-city mix of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and politics. Such a seductive, exciting and dangerous world! – just the place for a story to be told. So when my publisher, Klaus Flugge of Andersen Press, suggested a book on drugs, it was to that period that my mind inevitably went.
Far too old for 11-year-olds of course! But… what wouldn’t I have given for a book set in that world when I was 15 or 16? A book not simply about the drugs themselves, but about the culture… the people, the ideas, the relationships, with all its highs and lows, all its excitements, glories and tragedies.
Why not? Fiction for young people had been moving that way for years… getting older, getting more serious, testing the waters. I was already known for hard hitting, honest books. Klaus, bless him, was up for it…
It used to be Alice in Wonderland and Fluffy Bunny – now suddenly it’s junkie whores rolling round in the gutter
That’s what Junk was – the book I wished I’d had when I was 15-years-old.
Bloomsbury is partnering YA authors with booktubers (vloggers who talk about books on YouTube) for a new anthology.
You Love to Hate Me will be a collection of stories, with each one written by one booktuber with one author from the point of view of a famous villain.
The anthology was conceived and will be edited by Ameriie, a YouTuber and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. “Readers today are more interactive with authors and one another than ever,” she said. “The booktube community on YouTube has exploded in the last two years, energising hundreds of thousands of readers around the world, the majority of whom read YA.”
The authors taking part include Marissa Meyer and Andrew Smith, whilst some of the participating booktubers are Samantha Lane and Benjamin Alderson.
Cindy Loh, v.p. and US Publisher of Bloomsbury Children’s Books, acquired the world rights at auction in a deal brokered by Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary & Media.
“Because You Love to Hate Me is one of the most exciting, unique collaborations in the YA market today, and puts a whole new spin on good/evil, nurture/nature, and reviewer/writer,” said Loh. “It makes you question everything you thought you knew before and leaves you seeing the world in an entirely new way. It is far and away a reading experience unlike any other.”
Bloomsbury will publish globally in July 2017.
Authors in the collection:
- Renée Ahdieh
- Soman Chainani
- Susan Dennard
- Sarah Enni
- Marissa Meyer
- Cindy Pon
- Victoria Schwab
- Samantha Shannon
- Adam Silvera
- Andrew Smith
- April Genevieve Tucholke
- Nicola Yoon
Booktubers in the collection:
- Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes)
- Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia)
- Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels)
- Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables)
- Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl)
- Jesse George (JessetheReader)
- Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe)
- Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes)
- Sophia Lee (thebookbasement)
- Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07)
- Regan Perusse (PeruseProject)
- Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS)
- Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel)
Teenage fiction reviewed by Geraldine Brennan
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Andersen Press, £7.99) is a richly textured tale set in small-town Tennessee where the sins of Dill’s father, a disgraced and imprisoned evangelist minister, are visited relentlessly upon his son. Dill and his mother are social pariahs living in poverty, while Dill’s friend Lydia, a fashion blogger heading for New York after high school, considers him a project. The gulf between their likely futures is the pink elephant in the back seat of Lydia’s car, which shelters Dill and the equally unfortunate Travis from the storms brewed by their elders. The universal highs, lows and power shifts in friendship are played out by three compelling characters until tragedy brings loyalty to the fore.
Other titles reviewed in the full piece:
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil
Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan
Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
New Australian website focusing on YA literature…
LoveOzYA is, at its heart, a way to focus the discussions around young adult (YA) fiction in Australia and by doing so, promote local content to local readers. The movement began – as all important conversations do nowadays – online, and rapidly garnered the attention of writers, readers, publishers, booksellers and so many more invested in our national youth literature. We all want the same thing – to draw the attention of Australian teens to Australian books that speak to their experience, and unite the youth-lit community