29 October, 2012

The Knit Spot (5)

The Knit Spot features characters spotted knitting in books.

This week we feature the grandma from 
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole.

This wordless picture book comes out on November 1 (Scholastic, 2012) and we highly recommend you put it on your wishlist right away. It's a sensitive and emotional tale of a young girl faced with a dangerous dilemma when she discovers a runaway slave hiding on her family's farm.

I won't give it away, but crafts figure into the story: not just knitting, but quilting and doll-making, too.

27 October, 2012

Perceptions of YA

Hello all! Please take a moment, if you can, to fill out this brief survey. In my continuing quest to figure out people's attitudes towards YA, I would really value your input!

It would also be really helpful if you can ask someone (even just one person) who is also a reader but who is not someone you would think of as an avid fan of young adult books.

There will be another poll soon about a more specific topic related to YA Shame and Stigma.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Author Event - Libba Bray at Vroman's

I'm back with another event recap! Libba Bray stopped by Vroman's in Pasadena, CA on Oct 14, 2012 to sign her new book The Diviners. To tell you the truth, I haven't had a chance to read any of Libba's books yet but my friend Crystal is a huge fan and she convinced me to go. (But let's be real. It's not that hard to convince me to go to a bookstore.) 

Crystal and I arrived pretty early so we had a nice lunch down the street and made it back in plenty of time to do some shopping before the signing. This signing was a pizza party, which we had no idea was happening, and the Vroman's staff brought in two giant pizzas to share. And by giant I mean they were like 3 feet in diameter. I wish I had gotten a picture of them but I forgot. 

There was a really good turnout for the event. I love weekend events because I don't have to take time off of work to go. Win win. Libba came out on time and proceed to entertain the crowd. She is a great public speaker and was super funny and cool. She started off with a blast from the past by reading us a 5th grade story she wrote called "Death Castle." "Death Castle" was pretty brilliant (and by brilliant I mean ridiculous and awesome). The story is about 4 girls who go into a haunted house and fall down a lot of holes and eventually get eaten my werewolves, vampires and other paranormal creatures. There's time travel, too.

Libba talked about how she really wanted to write a book about post 9/11 America. She also wanted to write a supernatural historical story. During her research she noticed that there were a lot of parallels between post 9/11 American and 1920's America and it inspired what would become The Diviners.

She opened up the floor to questions and someone asked her how often she got to hang out with Maureen Johnson. I think she mentioned something about how Maureen doesn't like to venture out of her own neighborhood so they see each other less than you would think, given that they live in the same city. She also said that Maureen was "delicate, like a flower." :)

When asked which of her books was her favorite to write, Libba said Going Bovine. She also said that it was the most emotionally biographical book she's ever written. 

I have to say that, after this, I am totally a fan of Libba Bray. She seems like someone you would want to hang out with because she would be super fun and you'd get into all kinds of shenanigans. And shenanigans are the spice of life. So yes, I plan on reading her books soon.  Thanks, Crystal, for asking me to go with you. I had a great time. 

If you're interested, we have a few more pics in our Facebook album. Anyone else out there a big Libba Bray fan? Which book should I read first? :)

25 October, 2012

Author Event - YA Rising Stars at B&N Americana

all the books!

Hello again! I am super behind on my event recaps, but I am trying to catch up. The YA Rising Stars event took place last month on Sept 22 at the B&N Americana in Glendale, CA. This was an event organized by Bridge To Books and featured authors Allen Zadoff (Since You Left Me), Ann Stampler (Where It Began), Carol Tanzman (Circle of Silence), Jesse Andrews (Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl), Kathy McCullough (Don't Expect Magic), Lisa M. Stasse (The Forsaken), Lissa Price (Starters), and Sherry Shahan (Purple Haze).

Since there were so many authors, the event was split up into two panels with signings between each panel and after. The first panel consisted of Ann Stampler, Lissa Price, Allen Zadoff, and Jesse Andrews.

ann stampler, lissa price, allen zadoff

jesse andrews

This was a really fun panel. Allen Zadoff is super funny and I love hearing him talk. Jesse Andrews is a new to me author (though I've been lusting after his book) and he was really funny as well. I am sorry this recap is somewhat vague but I think I was laughing too much to take good notes. Someone did ask the authors about their feelings on what libraries mean to them. Zadoff said that he spent a lot of time as a teen hiding in the library and that it was a safe refuge for him. Ann Stampler shared the really cool story of how her parents met on the steps of the Syracuse Public Library. She also said that she was hiding in the library once (I think to read books that kids her age weren't allowed to read) and was there for so long that she got stuck and an ambulance had to be called to get her out. Wow.

More talking. Books were signed. And then it was time for the second panel, which consisted of Sherry Shahan, Kathy McCullough, Carol Tanzman, and Lissa Stasse.

panel 2

carol tanzman & lissa stasse

sherry shahan, kathy mccullough
The authors started off by telling the audience a little bit about what inspired them. Sherry said that her book Purple Haze was inspired by letters that she found from the 60s that had been sent to her by a friend while he was in Vietnam. She actually had one of the letters with her, which was really cool to see. Lissa Stasse was inspired by a dream. In it, there were people in dark robes with knives. A couple of days later a friend was taking the SATs and how it felt like they were going to determine your entire life. She started to wonder what would happen if a test did determine your whole life. 

They talked about books covers for a bit and Carol Tanzman said that she loved the cover to Circle of Silence, but that the original cover had a very small title font. She asked them to make the title a bit bolder, which they did.   

Lissa Stasse said that there were no changes to the cover of The Forsaken and that she loved it. It's a mix of illustration with double exposure photography, which is really striking. 

More books were then signed and cookies were eaten. Yes, we raided the cookie table and it was so good. Bridge to Books also gave away two booster box sets to a middle grade school and a high school. I am sure those kids will be excited to get a huge box (or boxes) of books. 

So that's the recap. If you'd like to see a few more pictures, please visit the Facebook album for the event. Stay tuned in the next week for recaps of Libba Bray and Heather Brewer signings. Thanks for visiting!

24 October, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (Intl)

Welcome to the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

Thuy and I are going to this event tonight:

Heather Brewer
The Slayer Chronicles, Vlad Tod series

Tues October 23, 2012 7pm
Barnes & Noble, Americana
The Americana at Brand
210 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210 

So you could win a signed copy of Eighth Grade Bites!
We'll pick 1 winner. If the winner already has this book, they can choose another Heather Brewer title (any of the other VladTod books, First Kill, or one of the anthologies like Dear Bully or Foretold).
You can also try to win Soulbound from RNSL Nite Lite (after 9 pm PDT on 10/23).

Good luck! Make sure to check the other great blogs on this giveaway hop, and the other giveaway I have running for the next week: A Thunderous Whisper.

  1. Open Internationally.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost in the mail. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget after the end of the day on October 31, 2012
  6. If you have any questions, feel free to email readnowsleeplater@gmail.com.
  7. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Thunderous Whisper Blog Tour - Giveaway (INTL)

Publication date: 9 Oct 2012 by Knopf 
ISBN 10/13: 0375869298 | 9780375869297

About the book:

Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he's been off fighting in Spain's Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he's as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias's father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She's actually making a difference in the world. 

And then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, her mother. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

We have a great giveaway for you today--a signed copy of A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. Enter today and check back next week for a podcast interview!

You can also check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, interviews, and more giveaways!

Update: I'm making this an International giveaway. If the winner selected is in the US they will get the item directly from Christina. If they are outside the country the book will come to me first to be mailed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open Internationally. Entrants must be over 13 or have the permission of a parent or guardian to enter the contest. The winner will be notified within 24 hours of the contest ending at 12:01 am 11/01/2012. Winning entry is subject to verification. Read Now Sleep Later and Christina Diaz Gonzalez are not responsible for items lost in the mail. Good luck!

21 October, 2012

In My Mailbox (15)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren (inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie) where you can show off the books that you got last week.

Just a quick peek at what's in my mailbox this week.

I've had a horrible virus the last few weeks and it's just been horrible trying to read in bed when I can't breathe properly :(

But I popped by Gretchen McNeil's signing for Ten today and picked up her lovely scary new book. If you want a creepy mystery to cozy up with on Halloween, look no further!

the lovely author read a spine-tingling scene from Ten

I also helped Christina Diaz Gonzalez set up a blog tour for her new historical middle grade novel, A Thunderous Whisper. She sent me a lovely package of goodies!

A Thunderous Whisper and a lucky sixpence
Giveaways to enter:
The Windy Pages (ends 10/24)
The Story Siren (ends 10/26)
YA Bliss (ends 11/1)

The Brain Lair
Kid Lit Frenzy

I am a Reader, Not a Writer
Cracking the Cover
Meg Medina

The Character of Names at Mod Podge Bookshelf
Cuando sali de Cuba at My Big Fat Cuban Family

Upcoming stops:

Wednesday, October 24 - Read Now Sleep Later (Podcast Interview and Giveaway)

Friday, October 26 - Cindy L. Rodriguez (Review and Interview)

Monday, October 29 - There's a Book (Review)

November - HeiseReads (Review and Interview)

Friday, November 2 - Princess Bookie (Review and Giveaway)

Friday, November 9 - Bookalicious.org (Q&A, Review, and Giveaway)

Friday, November 16 - Steph Su Reads (Giveaway and Interview)

That's it for me this week. What's in your mailbox?

20 October, 2012

Just a reminder! Tomorrow's events - Los Angeles #yalit

Gretchen McNeil 

Sun Oct 21, 2012 2pm
Barnes & Noble, Americana
The Americana at Brand
210 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210

Rachel Cohn 
David Levithan 
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Sunday Oct 21, 2012 3PM
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
(310) 458-8600
Santa Monica, CAevent page


Monday, October 22, 2012 7PM
Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop
1030 Bonita Avenue
La Verne, CA 91750

Shadows Blog Tour - Podcast Interview with Ilsa J. Bick

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Transcript will be available soon. This podcast will be available on iTunes within 24 hours (Sun, 10/21)

Thanks so much to author Ilsa J. Bick for doing this awesome, hilarious interview with me about how she got started in writing, YA books, cats, sleep-deprivation, how much we hate tiny book lights, classroom libraries, Star Trek, Audible, and anything else you ever wanted to know about the author of Ashes and Shadows.

For your listening comfort, my louder laughs have been edited out.

Synopsis for Ashes:

It could happen tomorrow....

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom, a young soldier, and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it's now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

Shadows (Book 2) on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Audible

More books by Ilsa J. Bick

My cat that I talk to, just for kicks:

Mars is a very good listener.

13 October, 2012

Ashen Winter Blog Tour

Hi, everyone! We are super excited to be a tour stop on the Ashen Winter Blog Tour today. Stopping by today with a guest post is author Mike Mullin. Ashen Winter is set in a world right after a major natural disaster. There is little food and people are fighting for survival. Read on for Mike's tips on what to do in a fight.

What to Do in a Fight

When I started writing my debut novel, ASHFALL, I realized that Alex, the protagonist, would need some way to defend himself. ASHFALL is about his struggle to survive and find his family after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts. So I decided that Alex would be a martial artist—that seemed plausible enough, lots of teens are martial artists, some of them are so good they win championships and Olympic medals. The only problem? I didn’t know any martial arts at all.

So I enrolled in taekwondo classes. I figured I’d take a couple months of classes, learn enough to write my novel, and that would be that. Instead, I found I enjoyed taekwondo, stuck with it, and finally earned my black belt just before ASHFALL was released last year.

Now, taekwondo is part of my shtick when I do author visits—at most of them, I break a concrete block with my bare hand. (Yes, really.)

I’m not a self-defense expert. I’m just a writer who’s spent enough time training in taekwondo to earn a black belt. But, for what it’s worth, here’s my advice on what to do if you’re ever in a situation in which you might have to fight: Run away.

If you have a black belt in a martial art: Run away.

If you’re in the middle of an apocalypse: Especially then, run away.

Why? In a real fight, even the “winner” gets hurt. We have a plethora of small bones in our hands that go by complicated names like triquetrum, metacarpal, and proximal phalange. They’re way easier to break than large bones like, say, a skull. If you’re fighting for your life, you’re going to get hurt. And after an apocalypse, medical care may not be available. You could die of something as simple as an infection from a scraped-up hand.

Alex doesn’t always take this advice. And the fact that he doesn’t run away early enough or fast enough very nearly kills him several times in ASHFALL and the sequel, ASHEN WINTER.

Although when Alex does get into fights, he does one thing right—he goes for the groin or the eyes.  If running away is not an option, or if someone is trying to abduct you—take you from a public space to a private one—you should scream your head off and go for the groin, eyes, or fingers.

A solid kick to the nuts can kill a man, or if the opportunity presents itself, grabbing, crushing, and twisting the testes is effective. If your hands are anywhere near an attacker’s face, try digging your thumbs into his eyes. Once he’s blinded, run away. Finally, one of the simplest ways to break a hold is to grab an attacker’s finger and bend it backward until it breaks. The biggest guy in the world could be holding you, and if it’s your whole hand against one of his fingers, you win. Again, the goal is to break the hold so you can RUN AWAY.

I hope you enjoy ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER. I worked hard to make the self-defense scenes in the book accurate, but remember, it’s just fiction, and Alex doesn’t always respond in the best possible way. If you’re interested in self-defense, sign up for a martial arts class. It’s fun, not too expensive, and you get healthier while you’re learning to fight. If you’re in Indianapolis, drop me a note and I’ll hook you up with two free weeks of classes at my dojang, so you can see if you enjoy taekwondo as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping by, Mike! This is definitely some good advice that I really hope that I never have to use.


It's been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex's relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this trilogy. It's also been six months of waiting for Alex's parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex's parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.
The first two chapters are available at www.ashenwinter.com.

You can purchase the book at the following places:
Autographed Copies
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository
Thanks for stopping by the tour!

Find Mike Mullin on his website or blog.

07 October, 2012

YA Shame and Stigma

This blog post is also available as a podcast.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Please note, the quotes from Facebook are used with the author's permission. Any emphasis (BOLD formatting) in those quotes is mine, and you can follow the links to view the quotes in their original context for as long as the wall post is available to the public. I have left out other commenter's names in quotes, but they can be seen on the original Facebook post.

EDITS: Isaac took down the original wall post, which is fine with me, but the comments are below and I have it saved as text and screenshot as well. I didn't get the somewhat backhanded apology post saved. I encourage anyone who tweets, comments, or otherwise contacts him to please remain civil. Some of us are adults, it's up to you to decide which ones of us those are ;)

To be fair, when I said I was doing "a blog post" he may not have understood just how many devoted readers that post would have. In one day the post and the podcast have received over 3200 views, many comments, and lots of tweets. Thanks to all who have commented and shared this discussion.

I also want to make it clear, I still hope people will read Warm Bodies. I liked it. You might, too.

My post:

I came across an interesting post on Facebook yesterday by author Isaac Marion. Marion is the 31-year-old author of the debut novel Warm Bodies (Atria, 2011), about a zombie named R who, during a routine meal begins experiencing flashes of memory and emotion as he consumes a young man's brain. Labeled by some reviewers as a "zombie romance", the movie adaptation of this book "about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between" is due out in February 2013 from Summit Entertainment.

The post that caught my eye was this:

At least one Barnes & Noble store has Warm Bodies in the "Fiction" section instead of "Young Adult". Funny that the big corporate chain store everyone talks trash about understands its books better than most the local indies...
"At least one Barnes & Noble store has Warm Bodies in the "Fiction" section instead of "Young Adult". Funny that the big corporate chain store everyone talks trash about understands its books better than most [of] the local indies..."

Something about this seemed dissonant to me. It's not like that time Borders insisted on shelving Neil Strauss's Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life in Business: Personal Finance instead of Outdoor Sports: Survival Skills. I had, after all, learned about Warm Bodies from Maggie Stiefvater, a popular YA author. I'm certain I'm only one of thousands of readers and bloggers who was convinced by her glowing recommendation. I not only bought the book; at the time, I was still a merchandising manager at Borders, so I ordered in copies (though I was not supposed to) and handsold them, some to teens and others to adults.

I did know that the novel was considered "adult" as opposed to "young adult", but after reading it recognized elements that would make it an appealing crossover. I made sure it was shelved and displayed in the adult Fiction/Lit section as the Borders subject code specified, but occasionally when I had extra copies I'd throw one on a rotating zombie endcap in YA, next to books like Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry and The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan. In Borders parlance, we referred to this as cross-merchandising, intended to draw sales from anticipating more than one display where a customer might browse for an item in the store. Lesser-known and first-time authors typically benefit from this arbitrary arrangement by having their book placed next to those of authors who are already established and popular; this placement was in addition to having the store's last remaining copy spine-out on the shelf where it belongs in its normal category.

I also blogged about it here, on a blog which primarily reviews books for young adults and younger. I really liked this book, and I used multiple channels of influence to try to get people to read it, for no other reason than that. While I harbor no illusions that I had anything much to do with its success and movie deal, if you look at the comments on the review I did convince a few YA readers to read it who otherwise would not have picked up the book.

After a few comments on the thread, Isaac replied:
"This YA thing is going to be a rash on my eyeballs for this book's entire run..."
"Since it seems impossible to correct, I guess I'll just have to practice not ranting about it."
It became apparent to me he felt ashamed, or more likely annoyed, to have his book associated with the YA category. A reader also noted that she found the book in the Horror section and would not have picked up the book had it been in YA, validating Marion's fear that readers who otherwise would have read the book are being alienated by the young adult label. His subsequent comments made it clear to me that he did not know much about the genre in the first place:

"I don't know who started the idea that it's a YA book but it drives me crazy. There's one character in the entire story who's younger than 20 (Julie, 19) the writing is not simplified for a young reading level at all, containing lots of big ol' fancy words like "loquacious" and "sepulchral", and there's nothing teen-specific about its themes. Not to mention the copious amounts of "adult content". I would love to know what about all that screams "YOUNG READERS" to book stores..."

At that point, I could no longer help myself and jumped into the conversation, to try to suss out why the YA label was so objectionable, trying to make the point that the emerging adulthood themes in Warm Bodies, as well as the viral effect of Maggie's recommendation may have caused some people (and, unfortunately, indie bookstores) to believe Warm Bodies was a YA novel. Marion responded:

"The problem that I have with YA as a genre is that no one wants every book with young characters to be called a children's book--that would pull thousands of classics off the adult shelves--so the only useful definition I can imagine would be books that are specifically geared toward kids in terms of content, style, and complexity--ie, books that are simpler and more easily digestible than adult books. Otherwise, why draw that distinction? Why limit the audience instead of just leaving it open to the reader's judgement? The only function the YA label can really serve is to warn adult readers, "Stay away from this if you want substance." Which is really unfortunate, because no doubt a lot of substantial books get buried by this label."

I found this bleak perspective surprising, especially coming from a mainstream published author. I often hear YA disparaged as no more than a marketing ploy the publishing industry came up with in order to sell more books, though this opinion I typically hear from people with little professional book knowledge. To tell the truth, even those who read it often, the authors who write it, and the educators and librarians who study and promulgate it, seem to have a really hard time defining what YA literature even is. It's not simply material written for an audience aged 12 to 17 years; a guideline on the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) website notes an expanded definition including persons as young as ten and as old as 25. A recent study from Bowker says that 55% of buyers of YA books are adults over 18, and that 78% reported that the purchase was for their own reading. If age of audience is not the dividing line, what is?

To say they are less complex, easier to digest, and lacking in substance is too simplistic. Not only are there YA novels of quality to which those descriptions do not apply, there are also adult novels that do deserve those labels. And as with any genre, the cream rises to the top. Take Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, for example: award-winning, slated for a feature film, and on the New York Times children's bestsellers list since its US publication in 2006, it's not one of "a lot of substantial books... buried by this label". Let's not even talk about The Hunger Games.

I also have trouble believing that the YA label has turned away more readers than it has garnered for his book. Below the professional quotes on the author's Reviews page, two of the three blogs quoted are YA blogs (the third is defunct). The studio that is making the film adaptation, Summit, owes much of its fame to the success of the Twilight film franchise based on a series of young adult novels written by Stephenie Meyer. Meyer also blurbed the book, saying “Isaac Marion has created the most unexpected romantic lead I’ve ever encountered. I never thought I could care so passionately for a zombie.” One might speculate based on Summit's purchase of other YA-audience adult books like Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, as well as optioning Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus) that the studio also bought rights to Warm Bodies partly due to its YA appeal. A commenter on the thread shared the fact that she bought the novel after spotting it in the YA section of a bookstore; another learned about the book from the entertainment site Oh No They Didn't, which reported that Summit was touting the Warm Bodies film as a "Zombie Twilight".

Okay, so I'll admit, with all of its shortcomings, perhaps the Twilight series is not necessarily the best brand to align yourself with unless your only interest is making a lot of money. However, that still does not appear to be the issue. Marion continues:

"That is what I'm saying--it's for ALL audiences. And to me, the YA label says, "This is specifically for kids." Otherwise, what purpose does it serve?"
"I just think it's a ridiculous, pointless category. "Children's" is a useful category because it tells people it's written at a young reading level and doesn't contain any objectionable content. "Adult" is a useful category because it tells you it's not "Children's". YA is a useless category because teenagers and twentysomethings can and SHOULD read whatever the hell they want."
(Aside: I actually agree with that last part--though lots of book-banning censorship-happy adults would probably not.)

The only purpose I can see for the YA label is to insult authors who thought they wrote a book for grownups.
...Everything has its place, but having your book placed in a category for people who are "too young to read (or in some cases to understand) the full mature themes in a lot of adult books" when what you thought you wrote was...an adult book with full mature themes...is very frustrating. And that's exactly why it's not an inclusive genre, because--at least to the outside observer--it appears to promise books without mature themes, which isn't interesting to people who WANT mature themes.
Here we come to the root of the problem: the perception of YA by people who are unfamiliar with the genre. The author admits in a private message that his attitude is based on the general public's negative view of the YA label:

"that late-teens and early-twenty-somethings who are plenty old enough to grasp adult literature will only read books that condescend to them, so we should add a label to let them know which books will do so...
"I think books should either be written for children--by which I mean CHILDREN, not people who can drive cars and vote and fight in wars--or adults. I don't see the purpose of this vague middle category. Let the reader decide if a book's too lofty and obscure for them. Don't put a label on it reassuring them, "This book will not expose you to anything you aren't ready for." 
Wow, I thought, he's never heard of Meghan Cox Gurdon? She'd tell him there are lots of objectionable adult themes in YA novels that CHILDREN should not be exposed to. I have to argue back that they've both got this backwards: that YA is intended to explore the challenges of changing from child to adult, that YA is inclusive of the interests of both children and adults, and that you shouldn't let a label prevent you from exposing yourself to great books. It's obvious to me that Marion is missing an important piece of the puzzle. Apart from laws which decide when a person is old enough to drive or go to war, to smoke and drink, to vote and fuck, there is no dividing line between child and adult, certainly when it comes to reading, and the nebulousness of that middle area, that blurry line between child and adult is precisely the reader that YA seeks to engage. 

Author and educator Carol Tanzman notes:
Before there was YA, teens read "adult" books. The problem there is that there was very little connection to their "real" lives--what about Ethan Frome is particularly relatable to a 15 year old? YA grew as a specific genre to meet the needs of readers who want and need to see a world that reflects their concerns, wishes, dreams, fears (whether in contemporary/dystopian/sci-fi, etc.). They can then have an opportunity to reflect upon something that interests them as all good literature leads readers to do. Also, since 55% of all YA books are bought by adults, there is a huge crossover that shows that teen concerns are interesting/relatable/familiar to adults.
 Author and teen librarian Tammy Blackwell adds:
I think it's important for teens to feel like there is something just for them, that reflects their experiences. Most of them are struggling to find where they fit in in this world, and YA books reflect that journey and help them find their way. Teens need YA. The YA label isn't an insult; it's an honor.
 Reader (and adult ;) Emily Turner says:
I feel like YA is only an insult if you think writing books for young adults means that they are written more simply, lower quality, less layered, etc. But if you think of YA like a genre, like horror, sci-fi, any other genre, then it's just like what Tammy said -- it signifies the book will have themes that may be of specific interest to young adults. [Marion] is treating YA authors as if they don't write as well as "adult" authors, which isn't true... and perpetuating that also is insulting to teen readers, as if they can't "understand" anything more "deep", even when they are reading "adult" books in their English classes.
All things considered, I still don't think I can convince Marion that

  1. His book somewhat fits the label
  2. Applying the label to Warm Bodies does not mean that his book is simplistic, without substance, and lacking full mature themes
  3. The term YA is helpful in marketing his book to readers who will appreciate it for what it is: a compelling story of an imperfect creature who wants to live
  4. That the label is useful for specifying a genre addressing the "physical, intellectual, emotional, and societal" (YALSA) needs of developing adults searching for their identities (much as his main character, R, is seeking to define his zombiehood and newfound humanity)
Furthermore, he's not the only one with this myopic view. There are many variations on it, too. Last year, Meghan Cox Gurdon inflamed the kidlit world with her Wall Street Journal article "Darkness Too Visible", claiming that YA novels were becoming too dark, and that themes were too mature and inappropriate for young people. Joel Stein of Time Magazine opined earlier this year in the New York Times that adults should only read adult books. To top it all off, another new category is supposedly emerging this year, called New Adult literature, Upper-YA, Mature Young Adult, or College-Lit. I'll admit it, I have more questions than answers when it comes to evaluating the stigma of labeling books as "Young Adult" or "YA".

My questions boil down to these two:
  • What will it take to convince the general public that the term YA is a meaningful label for a valuable genre that encompasses a wide variety of interests and has the same fluctuations in style, complexity, and merit as any other genre of writing?
  • How many people avoided reading or purchasing Warm Bodies because they associated it with the YA label? How many bought it because of it?
Comment, people. I really, truly want to know the answers.

Find Isaac Marion at
Read his blog at Burning Building

Find Warm Bodies on

And if you shelve this book in a store, for the love of Pete, shelve it in Adult Fiction.
Isaac says Sci-Fi/Fantasy would be his second choice.
Do not put it in YA. Just... don't.

05 October, 2012

October Events

Hello again! Wow, October really snuck up on me. I am excited though because fall is my favorite season. I love Halloween and the cooler weather (though it's been 100 degrees in Souther Cali lately). There are a ton of really awesome events this month. I am really looking forward to seeing Heather Brewer as well as hitting up Gretchen McNeil's signing. As always, please let me know if I have missed anything. 

Lauren Oliver
The Spindlers

Wed Oct 10, 2012 7pm
Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop
1030 Bonita Avenue
La Verne, California 91750
event Facebook page

Libba Bray
The Diviners

Sunday Oct 14, 2012 5pm
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

Francesca Lia Block
The Elementals

Tues Oct 16, 201 7pm
Barnes & Noble, The Grove
189 Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Jennifer Bosworth (Struck)
& Lissa Price (Starters)

Thursday Oct 18, 2012 7pm
Burbank Library
Buena Vista Branch
300 N. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91505

Michael Grant
Gone series, Eve & Adam

Fri October 19, 2012 7:00pm
695 E. Colorado BlvdPasadena, CA 91101

David Levithan , Lissa Price, Rachel Cohn and Melissa de la Cruz 

Saturday Oct 20, 2012 2PM
Barnes & Noble, The Grove
189 Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Gretchen McNeil 

Sun Oct 21, 2012 2pm
Barnes & Noble, Americana
The Americana at Brand
210 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210

Rachel Cohn 
David Levithan 
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Sunday Oct, 21, 2012 3PM
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
(310) 458-8600
Santa Monica, CAevent page


Monday, October 22, 2012 7PM
Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop
1030 Bonita Avenue
La Verne, CA 91750

Lauren Conrad
Starstruck (Fame Game Series #2)

Monday Oct 22, 2012 7pm
Barnes & Noble, Third Street
3rd Street Promenade
1201 3rd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Kami Garcia
Beautiful Creatures series

Tuesday Oct 23, 2012 7pm
Barnes & Noble, The Grove
189 Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Heather Brewer*
& Rachel Cohn

Tues Oct 23, 2012 3:30pm
Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Blvd.
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

*Please note that Heather will have 2 signings in one day. One in the afternoon and one in the evening. Not sure if Rachel will be at the B&N signing but we'll update when we know for sure. 

Heather Brewer
The Slayer Chronicles, Vlad Tod series

Tues October 23, 2012 7pm
Barnes & Noble, Americana
The Americana at Brand
210 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210 

Kami Garcia & Margi Stohl
Beautiful Creatures series

Thursday Oct 25, 2012 7pm
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

Curiosities Workshop
Book release with Mike Yamada & Victoria Ying

Opening Reception / Oct 27 Art Exhibition Time: 7pm - 11pm
210 East Main St
Alhambra CA 9180
event page