At Continuum X on the June long weekend, I had the privilege of moderating a panel called “YA: all grown up”, which featured Guest of Honour Ambelin Kwaymullina, and other YA writers Amie Kaufman, Leonie Rogers and Sue Bursztynski as panellists. We had a chat by email beforehand, so kind of knew the sort of things we wanted to talk about, but of course, you never know where the conversation will go. With such intelligent and well-read panellists, it went all sorts of great places!
We talked about why YA was both important and popular, with readers of all ages, with the panel suggesting that YA is important because “the young matter more” (Ambelin), and that it’s popular for reasons such as the fact it share qualities with genre fiction, the writing is pared back, and YA stories tend to be more diverse that adult-oriented fiction. The reasons why our panellists wrote YA were discussed, and we challenged the idea that YA was “easier” than adult fiction, to write or read, although it’s often shorter and more to-the-point!
Recommendations from the panel for quality YA:
Tehani said (though it would change on any given day) that top reads for her are: Laini Taylor (the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series), Liar by Justine Larbalestier and recommends Awards lists such as the Aurealis Awards, CBCA Older Readers, Inky Awards and various Premier’s literary awards.
Amie suggests Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Legend by Marie Liu.
Ambelin says to pick what you love and don’t worry about where it comes from in the bookstore. Read something you wouldn’t normally read – diverse and different perspective and challenge you and make you smarter.
Sue recommends anything by Melina Marchetta and Michael Pryor’s Laws of Magic series.
Leonie seconds Ambelin’s words, and adds Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men, Brandon Sanderson’s Rithmatist books, and Bonnie’s story, a blonde’s guide to mathematics by Janis Hill.
I’d like to thank the panellists for being so darn awesome and smart, and for making the hour-long discussion absolutely fly by!
Please note that the notes I took were definitely on the run, and my memory is always suspect. Hopefully I’ve not misrepresented or misremembered anything here – I welcome comments from audience members and the panellists if I’ve got it wrong or missed anything super important!