Thursday, July 06, 2006

Now Look What I've Started

My Anansi Boys post got a discussion going at Read Roger. The discussion is not so much about whether or not Anansi Boys is YA as it is about the function of YA librarians. Be sure to read the comments to Roger's post. One commentor links back to her LiveJournal where she makes the argument that Anansi Boys is, indeed, YA.

Liz. B. continued the discussion at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy. And one of her commentors makes the argument back at his blog that YA fiction is a category that is "primarily the creation of marketers and not readers or many of the books' creators."

I don't have a clear definition of YA, myself, though I'm always looking for one. And I'm always looking for one because I am a writer. I believe writers should always know what they're doing. We should be in control of our material. Yeah, yeah, yeah a piece of fiction changes and evolves while you're working on it. Some things work, some don't, you have to keep throwing things out and starting over. (That's how work has been going for me these last few weeks, by the way.) Writing is chaotic.

But when the dust settles, the writer should have control of her themes and how her storylines and characters express those themes. I can't control what marketers or librarians do with my books. But I really should control what I do with them.

Part of control involves knowing what you're doing. If we're hoping to write YA or children's literature, we really should know what a YA or children's book is. That's why I am always asking questions like "What makes Anansi Boys a YA novel?"

I need definitions people! I have control issues!


Blogger Paul Acampora said...

Esme Raj Codell's longish essay on "What makes a book for children?" is worth a read. Find it here:

A couple years ago, I heard Joyce Carol Oates explain to Adam Rapp that if it was a book for children, it had to have an ending that if not happy should be at least hopeful.

10:51 PM  
Blogger gail said...

Hmmm. I think that's a very traditional, perhaps even old-fashioned, view of children's literature, particularly YA. Though the word "hopeful" does leave a lot of wiggle-room.

8:09 AM  
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11:36 PM  

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