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5.20.2005

in a blind-folded taste test, could you tell adults from children?

Lauren Mechling writes about being the author of books for teens at cbc.ca:

“The thing I don’t understand,” she said instead, her voice more hesitant and quiet than before: “Why don’t you just write novels for adults?” I wanted to remind her that the sum her company paid for my book would have purchased four pages of an average adult novel, but I was too busy feeling dejected to respond. I mumbled some unintelligible half-apology and took the elevator down to the lobby.

It keeps happening. When I tell people I write teen fiction, they tend to chuckle condescendingly, or perhaps even look a little embarrassed for me. Upon learning I had begun a second teen book, an editor at the newspaper where I work made the “cash money” symbol by rubbing his thumb against his index and middle fingers. When I ran into an ex-boyfriend he asked me what “the plan” was, meaning, expressly, when would I get around to writing the Great Grown-Up Novel?

4 Comments:

  • At 8:58 AM , Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

    Thanks so much for the link, Gwenda. Fascinating. I'm happy to report that thus far neither Scott nor me has been getting any of the disrespect Mechling discusses. Quite the opposite--adult writers are starting to ask for advice on how to shift into YA (young adult) land. I always say read a tonne of YA books.

    I'm also seeing more money for YA books than for adult. More Hollywood interest, more foreign rights interest. Yet I keep hearing from other (non-genre) YA writers about getting less than adult writers. I wonder if this is a genre thing? Hmmm.

    One thing is definitely true YA and Middle School books are booming right now. I wonder how long it will last?

     
  • At 9:48 AM , Anonymous scott said...

    I keep hearing from other (non-genre) YA writers about getting less than adult writers. I wonder if this is a genre thing?

    The money part may well be a genre thing. But it's not just the money; everything else about YA is better too. You get a lot more fan mail, with 100% more "!!!!". You get more careful editorial attention. You also stay on the shelves and in print a lot longer, and get hand-sold better in store (and recommended in libraries), giving the books time to find their audience.

    And best of all, you can switch from fantasy to sf to realist without editors or agents bugging you--in much of the adult world, your readers will demand the same book again and again and again.

    And none of the people I know chortle when I say I write teen books. Maybe Mechling is hanging out with too many MFAs.

    After all, the hand that rocks the cradle . . .

     
  • At 12:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    in a blind-folded taste test, could you tell adults from children?

    I think adults would be sort of bitter and kids not so much.

    -mas

     
  • At 4:56 PM , Blogger Janni said...

    You get more careful editorial attention

    I often have trouble reading adult (genre) books these days, precisely because the writing often seems so much weaker ...

     

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