Monday, May 14, 2007

Debra - Witch Way to the Monday Morning Review ?

Those of you who know me will find this fairly amusing.

I've agreed to do a young adult story for an anthology about a high school of witches.

Yep. Young adult. High School. Witches.

I read a ton of fantasy, horror, paranormal. I've read it all my life, but now that I'm doing this story I feel the need to "research." To plough though a ton of young adult books, especially when I learned there is a lot of cross-over adult readership in many of the young adult titles. That was my clue that I really needed to get current.

Guess what? A couple have really changed my perception of what is being published in young adult. It's amazing. But first I had to research young adult authors. I did the standard internet searches, chatted with nieces, talked with a couple of folks who wrote young adult, listened to a couple of workshops on writing for teens. Then I trudged to the bookstore, rounded up the YA section employee and said, "Dude, here's my stack. Add anything to it that I absolutely have to read."

I love this employee. She (get hip will ya? We call girls dudes too.) is now my favorite person. Not only have her books been the winners on my list, but she went back and rounded up some advance reading copies.

She liked TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer so much that on her vacation (after finishing TWILIGHT) she went to a bookstore and bought the sequel in hardback without an employee discount. This is a big book and gives new meaning to the concept of "safe sex" when your new boyfriend is a vampire, and to "dead run" when a nasty band of vampires targets our human heroine.

She recommended ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING by English author Louise Rennison. Hilarious book, not what I was expecting. I gave it to my 25 year old son and said "Read this scene." He laughed and wasn't in a hurry to hand it back. I've now given it to my bestfriend to read just because I think she'll find it amusing too.

Holly Black has a very edgy and somewhat profanity-laced series about contemporary fairies. I liked the book but her subject matter and frankness took a bit of getting used to.

And a final recommendation is a book you may have already seen and read--PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld. General fiction, a NY Times Best 10 Books of the Year book about a Midwestern girl who heads to an Eastern prep school. This is a beautifully written book with a nod to being a "commercial" piece of fiction. The story is accessible and interesting. I find myself caring about the characters. This isn't young adult but the subject matter is clearly about the experiences in the age group I'll be writing. And anyone who's had any acquaintance with boarding/prep schools will recognize the authenticity in these pages.

And finally, in doing reseach I came across several sites that offer quaint quizzes for helping you find out what element you are (air, water, earth, etc.) (They said for ties, multiple description windows would open with descriptions. Apparently I was all elements. Someone report back if they get like 5 windows open. Maybe everyone is schitzophrenic.)

And to find out what occult power best suits you...
(I'd be careful around me because I'm clairvoyant apparently. And my I seem to be at 50% power in all aspects of the supernatural. Who knew I had such power?

And if you want to know your magical personality...

So, who out there is reading "out of their element?" Finding good books in places you weren't looking? Or simply gathering knowledge you didn't know you were interested in until you stumbled on the subject?


Betina Krahn said...

Wow, Deb, lots to ponder and I'm definitely picking up the Twilight and "snogging" books.

Off to find out what my occult powers are. . . will report back later!

Betina Krahn said...

Apparently I'm a little more gifted than I thought! With Premonition and Precognition among my talents. . . though I'm not sure I'm convinced. If I really had such gifts, would I have bought 4 of those chopper-dealies from that guy on TV?

flip said...

There are a lot of terrific YA novels. I love Holly Black. I have Ironsides on my TBR pile. I also enjoy Rachel Caine's vampire series. I haven't read the Angus series, but my 17 year old loves them.

Michele Hauf said...

The young adult paranormal reads are where it's at! I just picked up P.C. Cast's MARKED, which she wrote with her daughter. Haven't cracked it open yet, but it's getting a lot of good word, and is a vamp romance.
The Great and Terrible Beauty sits on my TBR waiting to be read, and I always cruise the YA aisle when I go to a book store. They have the best covers!

Artemis Fowl is another awesome series by Owen Colfer. It may be more middle grade. It follows a boy genius who has infiltrated the faery world and now fights to protect them from the bad guys. Great stuff.

Love Holly Black, though she is extreme. But she also does a younger series with Tony DiTerlizzi called The Spiderwick Chronicles. Like the old-fashioned picture books, but neat little faery adventure plots. You must just browse thrugh those. You'll want to by them for all the kids you know.

Terri Pratchett has a good young adult series going with Wintersmitth about a teenage witch who is given 'grand witch' status that she's not really sure she wants, but she handles quite well. Great fun, especially if you like PRatchett's Discworld series.

Okay, I'll stop! But my agent tells me word from NY is that all the publishers are hungry for YA stories. And they really want YA boys' stuff. Which reminds me. Any one read Anthony Horowitz's boy spy series? More good stuff!

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- Maybe you bought four because you knew one would break? (g)

Flip-- Thanks! I'll add Rachel Caine to my stack.

Michele-- Yeah, I had no idea. I'm just so excited because I have more books to read and authors to find. I've never had a problem with younger protagonists and have always read a lot of this material anyway. Thanks for more suggestions. Apparently I'll be off to the bookstore again today.

Christie Ridgway said...

I read TWILIGHT and enjoyed it so much. I haven't picked up the sequel yet. I really love Meg Cabot's books...THE MEDIATOR series are paranormal, Deb, so they might be of interest to you. My 21 year old niece just returned QUEEN OF BABBLE to me. I adored it, and so did she. The heroine is just out of college, but it still has a YA feel.

I'm keeping a list of the recs that I'm hearing here!

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- I got an ARC copy of AVALON HIGH, Meg Cabot. It's a book about how the King Author legend is a cycle every XX years with new people playing out their roles each time and whether evil wins this cycle or whether good will triumph and guide man's destiny for a while.

Helen Brenna said...

Must read more.