Welcome to the first issue of Booklandia. Before we take attendance, let's make sure all of us are in the right place. What's that? You're looking for Heavy-handed Literary Allusions in Tortured World War II Memoirs? Sorry, that's the newsletter down the hall. And you? Cute Bunnies in Picture Books and Why We Can't Get Enough of Them? Yeah, that's the newsletter in the basement.
This right here is the newsletter for YA. If that's outside your interest, then skedaddle. This is where you're gonna find reviews of not only the best and brightest YA out there but also the strangest and darkest. Our syllabi includes interviews with writerly types (spoiler: most writers are weird); features on the past and future of the YA world; cattle-call roundups of trends and series and crossovers; and "List & Shout," a regular list with so much attitude that it's already received a week's worth of detention.
So let's get started. Click with wild abandon. Go ahead, make a mess. You're only young once, right?
—Daniel Kraus, Editor, Booklandia (email@example.com)
Q&A with Leslie Stella
Talk about timely. Stella's latest novel, Permanent Record, digs into mind of a bullied 16-year-old whose "Enemies to be Eliminated" list, amateur explosive devices, and suicide attempt get him hauled off to a private school. It's gritty stuff, especially from the author of Fat Bald Jeff (2001), which we're told was *somewhat* inspired by a certain library association.
Question: How did you get inside the mind of a teenage boy?
Leslie Stella: Badi grew into a fully realized human being with each draft of the novel. I confess I never thought, "How do I get into the mind of a boy?" as much as I thought, "Who is this particular person?" The boys in my books are not typical pop-culture renditions of boys; neither are the girls. Badi is a little bit of the teenager I was and a lot of the person I wish I had been.
Question: Is it difficult balancing the humor in the story with the more serious subject matter?
Leslie Stella: Sometimes, yes. I used to have a horror of inserting a message in my novels: "All right, boys and girls, get ready for the lesson!" Chalk it up to a certain immaturity on my part—this fear I had of being serious, perhaps of being taken seriously—because I don't take myself seriously at all. But I learned that there's a difference between taking yourself seriously and taking your work seriously. I find that now I do want to say something with my writing, and when you have complicated subjects such as the ones explored in Permanent Record, or a complicated main character, there is going to be a strange balance of humor and drama. Which is just like real life, you know? There is humor in pathos. There is comedy in sorrow. Badi's simultaneous good humor and crippling depression mirrors our messy lives.
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Insanely Talented First Novels
By Ann Kelley
What the heck is going on inside our editors' heads? Find out in this column tracking which books we're obsessing about this month.
We've got hacking and slashing zombie-style; survivors of a nuclear winter; the deadly Spanish flu pandemic of 1818; and a paperboy fighting the Memphis summer heat—and a stuttering problem. These four books, each by an insanely talented debut author, pretty much made my April.
The End Games. By T. Michael Martin. 2013. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $17.99 (9780062201805). Gr. 9–12.
Meshing relentless action, intelligence, and emotion, Martin's debut features 17-year-old Michael, who has managed to protect his 5-year-old brother, Patrick, for weeks from flesh-eating "Bellows." How? By convincing Patrick that the whole debacle is a video game, complete with levels, points, and, yes, even cheaters. When they meet survivors led by Captain Jopek, Michael hopes "Game Over" is imminent.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds. By Cat Winters. 2013. illus. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (9781419705304). Gr. 9–12.
Mary Shelley Black, 16, has been sent to live with her aunt in San Diego, a city crawling with gauze mask–wearing citizens fearful of catching the deadly Spanish flu virus. Winters ropes in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, WWI shell shock, national prejudice, and spirit photography (eerie examples of which appear throughout). This is a story of the breaking point between sanity and madness, delivered in a straightforward and welcoming teen voice.
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In this ongoing series, we make a clever list of YA trends, and you forward it to everyone you know. Got it?
5 YA Hunks Whose Weird Names We Hope Don't Catch On
- Four—from Divergent, by Veronica Roth
- Patch—from Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick
- Peeta—from The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
- Po—from Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
- Tens—from Meridian, by Amber Kizer
History repeats itself. Once upon a time in the wake of WWII, a new category of human being emerged: the young adult; that is, the 12- to 18-year-old. Now, in the wake of the millennium, comes another new category: what's being called the new adult, whose age ranges from 18 to 25 or even 28 (the boundaries are a bit nebulous). As was the case with young adults, this new category is, in part, a marketing convenience but not wholly. In recent years, sociologists, economists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and others have also clambered aboard the new adult bandwagon, though they tend to call the category "emerging adulthood" or "the second decade of adolescence" (more of the nebulous).
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In this running Q&A from Booklist's Likely Stories blog, authors face the toughest third degree of their lives—and love every minute of it.
Laini Taylor is perhaps best known for Lips Touch: Three Times and the trilogy beginning with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the newly released Days of Blood and Starlight. Well, that and the pink hair. Pink hair is hard to pull off. Just ask those authors who have tried and failed: R. L. Stine, Agatha Christie, James Patterson, Toni Morrison–the list of legendary hair-fails goes on and on. Anyhoo, Taylor's richly invented fantasy worlds have been met with great enthusiasm and acclaim. Well, here's a fantasy world for you: one where I go hostile and you deal with it!!!
Just who do you think you are?
I think that I am one lucky nerd. I'm living all my writer daydreams and then some. With my fourth and fifth books, it has happened: I've found a wonderful publisher who believes in me, and I've been able to connect with readers—readers around the world!—in the way I've always hoped. It is lavishly fantastic, and I am deeply grateful. True, I write this from the big desk of a fancy hotel while on book tour, on one of the few days of the year when I am enjoying the fruits of my labor rather than doing the actual labor. Writing is still 99 percent sitting in front of a screen and making the story happen, and certainly that is its own reward (it better be, since it is so overwhelmingly my life), but it is nice to enjoy some perks, too.
So I'm a lucky nerd, and I'm a busy mama of a three-year-old, and the very happy wife of a very talented artist, and I'm someone, apparently, who overuses the word very. . . which I think is a symptom of happiness.
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Issue #1, May 20, 2013