What Makes A Young Adult Novel a Young Adult Novel?

So, Publisher’s Weekly held a breakfast panel on what makes young adult fiction young adult, and they didn’t invite me. Nice. Way to crush my ego, Publishers Weekly… And just so you know, I’m a big fan of breakfast. I would have been totally into that.

Seriously, I’ve been asked this question before. What makes my books young adult books? The answer is I don’t know. I’ve had plenty of adults tell me they’ve read them and enjoyed them. I didn’t intentionally write to preclude adults from reading it. I wrote a story I would enjoy. I guess I initially considered it a young adult novel because I knew it was going to be a series. I may be wrong about this, but I think kids/teens are more willing to commit to a series than adults. I picked up some current Young Adult books as I was writing the Takers, and I was put off by the attempt of the author to use slang and infuse the text with contemporary “after school special” type morality. Teens don’t want to be preached to, and they certainly don’t want to be preached to by pretentious authors using the street lingo kids use today.

I found this quote by Sherman Alexie to be particularly puzzling:

Writing for teens involves a stripped-down technique, Alexie said. “You tend to write more like Hemingway than Faulkner. More like Emily Dickinson than T.S. Eliot. It’s not a matter of more complex thoughts, but the number of adverbs and adjectives. In the adult world, the number of adverbs and adjectives can be confused with great writing.” Martin put it another way: “Teen books are like adult books, without all the bullshit.”

Obviously, he’s never read a fantasy novel for the young adult market. Those things are jammed with adverbs and adjectives, and they contain a lot of bullshit (sorry, I’m not a fan of hardcore fantasy). On the adult side, you could probably count the number of adjectives on one hand in Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road. There isn’t one ounce of bullshit in that book, and I’d bet not a lot of young adults are running out to read that book.

I’m writing a book right now that I don’t consider being for the young adult market. It’s about a young boy, but the language is rough and he has to contend with some pretty seedy adults. But is that enough to keep it out of the young adult market? There’s no sex. It’s a violent book. I don’t mean there’s a lot of violence in it (there’s some). I mean the tone is very violent and unforgiving. Maybe that’s what separates a young adult novel from an adult novel. A young adult novel often times emerges with a hopeful message while an adult novel can end in a sea of ambiguousness leaving the reader dazed and confused. I don’t know. Just a thought. If you’re interested, you can read the Publishers Weekly Article here: “Think Future” Panel Debates What Makes a YA a YA

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Outline. Done. 38 Special. Done.

Well, I did it.  I finished the outline for the entire Oz Chronicle series.  Outlining the first three books was easy because they’re all ready written.  The last four were tough.  I’m not the type of writer who outlines before I write.  I usually write the first 40-50 pages and then outline the rest of the book.  I guess that’s what I really did here with the series if you think about it.  I’ve always known how the series would end.  I just didn’t know how I was going to get there.  I now know, and I’m really jazzed.  Now, things could change.  I sent a brief synopsis to my agent for her input. 

I’m in the mood to celebrate.  Here’s a little 38 Special to brighten your Tuesday.  Why?  C’mon, do you really have to ask?

Video of Randy Pausch’s Congressional Testimony

Well, the stats show you love stories and news on Professor Randy Pausch, and at least one of the visitors to this blog believes Pausch is lying about having terminal pancreatic cancer. That really blows me away. I know the world was duped by James Frey and there’s a certain sect of our society that has taken the stance that since he so successfully lied, everyone with a tragic story must be lying, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Unfortunately, Professor Pausch is dying. To believe otherwise is to believe in a conspiracy so ridiculously complicated, it makes the Kennedy assissination look like it was drawn up on a cocktail napkin and executed by three blind monkeys with severe learning disabilities.

This is Pausch’s testimony to Congress. If this man’s lying, he’s the greatest actor on the planet.

Cormac McCarthy Interview – Video

I’m a big fan of Cormac McCarthy. I missed his Oprah interview and was surprised to find it on Youtube (I really don’t understand the copyright issue with those video clips). Anyway, I figured some of you may have missed it to. Here’s part one. You can find more over at Youtube. He is just like the characters in his books.

Peter Jackson look-alike Guillermo del Toro to direct ‘Hobbit’

Seriously, do they have a weight and facial hair requirement for directing movies based on Tolkien novels. If so, I should put in my application. This movie will no doubt make half a billion at the box office, and win all sorts of awards for it’s visual effects. Del Toro is a great director. I really enjoyed Pan’s Labyrinth. More so than The Lord of The Ring movies. You can find the article here: Guillermo del Toro to direct ‘Hobbit.’ I found this one excerpt particularly interesting:

With Del Toro blocking out four years for the project, it’s likely that the studios are aiming at starting shooting next year and releasing the films in late 2011 and 2012.

Four years!? Any guesses on how much he’s getting paid and if he’s buying or renting in New Zealand?