Young Adult, all grown up

Image from http://jinleephd.com/2013/06/29/23-why-should-you-write-young-adult-literature/
Image from http://jinleephd.com/2013/06/29/23-why-should-you-write-young-adult-literature/

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 MenBrandon 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!

Supporting diversity in Young Adult fiction

newtppkaleidoscope-300x196As a secondary school teacher librarian by trade, and a passionate lover of YA fiction by heart, I am frequently asked by other library staff and readers for recommendations of young adult fiction that features protagonists who are not necessarily white, straight or able-bodied. So many of our students and reading clientele experience life through a lens that is different to what the majority of YA fiction presents as “normal”, and it’s just heartbreaking to have so little to offer with a protagonist outside of this range.

I read extensively. I have judged for several Australian awards, both within the speculative fiction field and the general Young Adult and Children’s area. It’s far too rarely I come across a protagonist who is disabled, or queer, or mentally ill, or simply not from a white European background, and I even more impressed when the aspect of “difference” (such as it may be) is not THE plot of the book, but rather is simply an aspect of the character.

It’s possible publishing is improving in this area. We do see more lesbian and gay and other non-straight, non-cis gendered characters in our YA fiction, though more frequently as the “best friend” or other secondary role than the protagonist. We are coming across more inclusion of disability (physical and intellectual) or mental illness in stories, though again, less frequently as the main character. Love it or hate it, television shows such as Glee demonstrate to market forces that non-straight, non-white, non-able bodied characters don’t negatively impact on the popularity of a franchise. And the more books like Eon (Alison Goodman), Pantomime (Laura Lam), Guardian of the Dead and The Shattering (Karen Healey), Nightsiders (Sue Isle),  Hunger (Jackie Morse Kessler), The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (Ambelin Kwaymullina), Ash (and others, Malindo Lo), Liar (Justine Larbalestier), and Akata Witch (Nnedi Okorafor) that are published and sell well, the more chance there is of more books featuring protagonists other than those who are straight, white able-bodied and mentally well.

And here is a project that aims to do just that. Kaleidoscope is an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy stories. Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios are co-editing the anthology, which has a planned release date of August, 2014. Right now, Alisa and Julia are running a Pozible fundraising campaign to make the project happen. If you want to see more diversity in YOUR Young Adult fantasy and science fiction, I recommend it to you.

Aurealis Shortlists announced!

SpecFaction NSW, organisers of the 2010 Aurealis Awards, are delighted to announce the finalists for the 2010 Aurealis Awards.

Judging Coordinator, Keith Stevenson, said that with approximately 600 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a big task.

“Overall, the judges agreed that the entries had been of a high standard. In a number of the categories the judges informed us that they had trouble coming down to a shortlist of five with many worthy entries just missing out on being included. I’d like to extend my thanks to all the judges for their time and professionalism in the judging of these awards.”

Winners of the 2010 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Award will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, sponsored by Harper Voyager, on the evening of Saturday the 21st of May. Details of the evening and a link to the online booking website are available at http://www.aurealisawards.com

2010 Aurealis Awards – Finalists

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

Grimsdon, Deborah Abela, Random House
Ranger’s Apprentice #9: Halt’s Peril, John Flanagan, Random House
The Vulture of Sommerset, Stephen M Giles, Pan Macmillan
The Keepers, Lian Tanner, Allen & Unwin
Haggis MacGregor and the Night of the Skull, Jen Storer & Gug Gordon, Aussie Nibbles
(Penguin)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

Night School, Isobelle Carmody (writer) & Anne Spudvilas (illustrator), Penguin Viking
Magpie, Luke Davies (writer) & Inari Kiuru (illustrator), ABC Books (HarperCollins)
The Boy and the Toy, Sonya Hartnett (writer) & Lucia Masciullo (illustrator), Penguin Viking
Precious Little, Julie Hunt & Sue Moss (writers) & Gaye Chapman (illustrator), Allen &
Unwin
The Cloudchasers, David Richardson (writer) & Steven Hunt (illustrator), ABC Books
(HarperCollins)

YOUNG ADULT Short Story

Inksucker, Aidan Doyle, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft Publishing
One Story, No Refunds, Dirk Flinthart, Shiny #6, Twelfth Planet Press
A Thousand Flowers, Margo Lanagan, Zombies Vs Unicorns, Allen & Unwin
Nine Times, Kaia Landelius & Tansy Rayner Roberts, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft
Publishing

An Ordinary Boy, Jen White, The Tangled Bank, Tangled Bank Press

YOUNG ADULT Novel

Merrow, Ananda Braxton-Smith, black dog books
Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Allen & Unwin
The Midnight Zoo, Sonya Hartnett, Penguin
The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher, Doug MacLeod, Penguin
Behemoth (Leviathan Trilogy Book Two), Scott Westerfeld, Penguin

BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK/ GRAPHIC NOVEL

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Nicki Greenberg, Allen & Unwin
EEEK!: Weird Australian Tales of Suspense, Jason Paulos et al, Black House Comics
Changing Ways Book 1, Justin Randall, Gestalt Publishing
Five Wounds: An Illustrated Novel, Jonathan Walker & Dan Hallett, Allen & Unwin
Horrors: Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators, Rocky Wood & Glenn Chadbourne,
McFarlane & Co.

BEST COLLECTION

The Library of Forgotten Books, Rjurik Davidson, PS Publishing
Under Stones, Bob Franklin, Affirm Press
Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter, Tartarus Press
The Girl With No Hands, Angela Slatter, Ticonderoga Publications
Dead Sea Fruit, Kaaron Warren, Ticonderoga Publications

BEST ANTHOLOGY

Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Dr Marty
Young, Brimstone Press
Sprawl, edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Twelfth Planet Press
Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall, Morrigan Books
Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan, SF Book Club
Wings of Fire, edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon, Night Shade Books

HORROR Short Story

Take the Free Tour, Bob Franklin, Under Stones, Affirm Press
Her Gallant Needs, Paul Haines, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
The Fear, Richard Harland, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears,
Brimstone Press
Wasting Matilda, Robert Hood, Zombie Apocalypse!, Constable & Robinson Ltd
Lollo, Martin Livings, Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, Apex Publishing

HORROR Novel

After the World: Gravesend, Jason Fischer, Black House Comics
Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)
Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott, Pan Macmillan

FANTASY Short Story

The Duke of Vertumn’s Fingerling, Elizabeth Carroll, Strange Horizons
Yowie, Thoraiya Dyer, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
The February Dragon, LL Hannett & Angela Slatter, Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications
All the Clowns in Clowntown, Andrew McKiernan, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s
Darkest Fears, Brimstone Press
Sister, Sister, Angela Slatter, Strange Tales III, Tartarus Press

FANTASY Novel

The Silence of Medair, Andrea K Höst, self-published
Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)
Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)
Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier, Pan Macmillan
Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)

SCIENCE FICTION Short Story

The Heart of a Mouse, K.J. Bishop, Subterranean Online (Winter 2010)
The Angaelian Apocalypse, Matthew Chrulew, The Company Articles Of Edward Teach/The
Angaelian Apocalypse, Twelfth Planet Press
Border Crossing, Penelope Love, Belong, Ticonderoga Publications
Interloper, Ian McHugh, Asimovs (Jan 2011)
Relentless Adaptations, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press

SCIENCE FICTION Novel

Song of Scarabaeous, Sara Creasy, EOS Books
Mirror Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)
Transformation Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)