This weekend Boston played host to many, many amazing authors for the young at heart and older than their years. On Saturday, Copley Square held the Boston Book Festival. The handsome man who filled in for Lemony Snicket was an uproarious delight. On Sunday, Emerson put on the first ever Boston Teen Author Festival that introduced me to the incredibly delightful, but sadly less publicized Erin Dione, Jack Ferriaolo, and more. We also learned today’s young paranormal/fantasy authors do not actually hate Twilight.
Some gems from YA: Overcoming Adversity.
“You can’t always win, but you can change your perspective.” – Barry Lyga, author of I Hunt Killers, and who once wrote something so horrible, he couldn’t be in the same room with it.
“Teens understand better the truth that love is as necessary as air and food better than adults do.” – Kathryn Burak, author of Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things.
“When we talk about writing what you know…we mean an emotional truth that is both uniquely yours and also universally understood.” – Jo Knowles, author of See You at Harry’s, on writing Your Life: Revised.
When asked “What do you write?” Barry Lyga answers, “Words.”
On overcoming adversity in YA in books and life: “Growing up sucks. But we survived!” – Barry Lyga.
“The sky’s the limit in YA. We can do anything we want!” – Jo Knowles
“It’s almost impossible to write about teens and not include hope.” – Kathryn Burak.
On why YA Lit seems more hopeful than Adult Lit. “Young adults move on to being adults. We adults move on to death.” – Amy Patee, moderator, and awesome Simmons professor.
“Teen books can change a person’s life.” – Barry Lyga
On whether YA authors have some obligation to teen readers: A resounding yes. To “write the truest books I can.” – Jo Knowles. “Kids can tell when you’re being dishonest.” – Kathryn Burak.
On how do we overcome adversity in selecting books for teens: “Scotch.” – Barry Lyga. He also gave us a big tip on how to get away with a bloody murder…
“Censorship doesn’t work very well.” – Jo Knowles.
“When art moves you, it doesn’t matter what the art is.” – Kathryn Burak.
“Let’s play YA bingo! Dead mother, suicide, drugs/alcohol…” – Kathryn Burak.
“Every writer writes a million bad words, and until you write all one million, you’re not ready.” – Barry Lyga.
“If someone tells you something’s wrong [with your manuscript], they’re probably right. But if they tell you how to fix it, they’re probably wrong.” – Barry Lyga. [Britt ducks from her editor, who may disagree.]
And that was just ONE panel. Here’s some more juicy tidbits from the YA: The Future is Now discussion.
“We love rendering your books unreturnable.” Cory Doctorow, author of Pirate Cinema, on signings.
On YA’s inherent hope: “[There’s] a dialectic between pessimism and optimism.” Cory Doctorow, who just inspired a grad school paper thesis. ” We find a way out of despair.” – Rachel Cohn, author of Beta. “[Teens] move from ignorance to knowledge.” – Gabrielle Zevin, author of Because It Is My Blood.
“The fundamental action of a YA novel is to put an arm around the shoulder and say, ‘This is how the world works, kid.'” – Cory Doctorow.
“[Today’s teens] have no desire to learn about this world. But they desire the imaginary world because they can still form it.” – An amazing sounding English teacher.
On why read dystopia: “[Teens] have a suspicion that our lives are not as good as we think confirmed, so we’re not alone in our misery.” – Gabrielle Zevin.
“Adolescence is a series of incredibly brave one-way decisions.” – Cory Doctorow, who planted the seed for an email I need to send to Dear Editor about maybe re-considering the the third act of TCoKGJ.
“What I hope is that [teen readers] leave with a sense of how powerful they actually are.” – Gabrielle Zevin.