So Thursday was Book Summit 2018 and I had a blast!
My panel, “Is This the Golden Age of YA?” was incredible fruitful. I was one of two authors with award-winning writer, David Alexander Robertson. Also on the panel was Zareen Jaffery, executive editor at S&S (who delivered an amazing key note earlier in the day) and Alice Moore from the Toronto Public Library! Thank you to Serah-Marie McMahon for moderating!
It was a full house and I was SO happy to hear some “whoos!” for The Effigies series for the audience! Not to mention even though they didn’t actually sell our books at the event, introducing more people to the book series is always exhilarating!
Some takeaway thoughts from the panel and the Summit in general:
- #ownvoices is still a hot topic and something we continue to think through in the industry (yay!)
- Writing what’s considered real from real perspectives is also incredibly important – and that means publishers need to continue to commit to not placing restrictions on what different authors write or trying to label what’s authentic or inauthentic
- YA as a market still isn’t really taken seriously by certain people especially outside of the industry. People still have the idea that YA is romance driven or issues-driven. But despite the saturation of the market, there’s still LOTS of variety in the market in terms of the kind of stories and topics that can be written about.
- To be didactic or not to be didactic: writers may or may not write with ‘issues’ in mind, but I do think that social commentary is something that can just end up slipping out whether or not you mean it to. But one very important point to remember is that YA – just like all books and just like ALL ART – is never neutral. Nothing anyone writes can be culturally or ideologically neutral but WE as human beings are not neutral. There’s no art created that can be just chocked up to ‘well, it’s just entertainment.’
- There are still lots of parents who might have problems with the kind of ideas presented in YA, but we all agreed that it’s so important to trust kids (who are probably already being exposed to these ideas) to be able to handle what they read.
For me, the most important takeaway is that the authors, the material and the readership need to be taken seriously and respected. YA is truly in its Golden Age, not just because of the sales or the deals, but because of the kind of work we’re putting out there for people to read – and what readers are demanding to read for themselves. And there’s still so much potential moving forward.
I mean, it’s really an exciting time for Young Adult Literature, to say the least. Can’t wait to see what the future will bring!