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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Don’t judge a YA book by its genre


    Delacorte Press

    Despite getting a bad rap from literary snobs, the young adult book industry is thriving, from the staggering amount of books atop best-sellers lists and the seemingly infinite number of book-to-movie adaptations based on the genre. For those looking to meet some famous faces in the young adult world, the Tucson Festival of Books has something for the young adult in everyone.

    “I’ve been writing since I was very young,” said Jenny Han, author of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” trilogy and of 10 middle-grade and young-adult novels. “I’ve always been a fan of stories about young people. My favorite books, ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro and ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith, are adult novels with young protagonists. It’s a very compelling time in a person’s life.” 

    Han will be on several young adult panels throughout the weekend, including “Why Diversity Matters in YA Literature” on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and “What’s Trending in YA Literature” on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

    As a self-identifying Slytherin, Han said much of what we consider young adult literature is thanks to J.K. Rowling. 

    “It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I’m a Slytherin, but I accept it now,” Han said. “I’m a huge ‘Harry Potter’ fan. We all owe J.K. Rowling a huge debt. I can’t think of one person, with the exception of Oprah Winfrey, who has done more for literature in the recent past. She got people reading; she got people excited about books. There wouldn’t be a YA genre as it exists today without J.K. Rowling — or for that matter, Stephenie Meyer.”

    To add to the young adult discussion is E. Lockhart, author of the recent The New York Times best-seller “We Were Liars” and a National Book Award finalist. 

    “I love having these kinds of public dialogues about books and hearing what people in the audience have to say, as well,” Lockhart said. “And I get to unpack all the latest trends in YA with Jenny Han and Lisa McMann, and I think I’ll learn a lot.”

    Lockhart has written both children’s and adult literature and disagrees with the notion that one genre of literature is better than another. 

    “I would like to live in a time when we are done shaming other people’s reading choices,” Lockhart said. “Some books are deep, some books are shallow. Sometimes deep is scary. Sometimes shallow is nice. Every book is different.”

    Lockhart will also be on the “What’s Trending in YA Literature” panel with Han, as well as “Story Interrupted: Moving In and Out of Time and Space in YA” on Saturday at 10 a.m.

    For festival attendees who want to write young adult fiction, attending one of the panels at the Tucson Festival of Books is a start. For Lockhart, writing is largely the process of revision and change.

    “I write an average of 12-18 drafts of a book,” Lockhart said. “Most published writers I know do the same.”

    Han said one of the most important things to writing is to harness past experiences.

    “My advice is to just be present in your life, and write down all of your big moments, especially the sad or painful ones,” Han said. “When you’re a writer, there’s no such thing as an experience without value.”


    Follow Mia Moran on Twitter.

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