No Greater Responsibility than…

I had a great time at the panel session yesterday. Thanks to those wonderful nutters at Children’s Books Ireland who organised the event and to Pearse St Library who hosted it.

Melvin BurgessGeraldine Meade and I spent a couple of hours chatting about real life issues in young adult fiction. Many thanks to chair Niall McMonagle who asked such stimulating and interesting questions, and to the audience who did likewise (To the woman who asked if she could use my phrase ‘normalizing heroes of difference’ – just in case I wasn’t clear at the time, Yes! Of course you can! Use away!)

I found it especially interesting to be asked what I felt my responsibilities were as a YA writer. I’ve never considered that I have any more or less responsibilities when writing for teens than I do when writing for other humans. In my opinion  teenagers don’t need or benefit from some kind of kid glove treatment and I approach my writing with a sense of responsibility which stems from social conscience rather than some protectiveness towards teenagers’ perceived fragility. But I had never given the distinction much thought before I was asked it as a direct question – not even during the recent spate of ‘dark YA good/ dark YA bad’ arguments – it was nice to be forced to concrete my own ideals into words like that. Thanks to Niall MacMonagle for that!

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Going to relax now for a while. Spend the rest of the week reacquainting myself with the new project, finishing the next page of the webcomic, and giving my poor old car a rest from all the travelling it’s been doing recently!

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5 Responses to No Greater Responsibility than…

  1. Louise says:

    Teenagers are a lot stronger and more aware of the world than people give them credit for! I started reading books intended for adults when I was a teenager because it was so difficult to find a YA book that wasn’t patronising and irrelevent to the way I saw the world. Now I’m in my twenties I’m finding more YA books that I wish had been around when I was in highschool. I think (in my non-writerly opinion, of course 😛 ) as soon as you start writing for a specific audience everything goes to hell.

    Also, congratulations on the panel session! I hope you enjoy your time off, you certainly deserve it 🙂

    • I was the same as a teen, Louise. In fact even as a little kid I remember standing with my face pressed to the glass doors of the adult section of Raheny Library longing to be allowed in from the kids room. (Eventually my mam and dad intervened and the library gave me a special ‘orange’ ticket which meant I was allowed go in and choose adult books – ran straight to the fantasy section and into a love affair with Ray Bradbury 😀 ) The panel was terrific, but I must confess I’m enjoying the couple of days down time.

      I think you’re right about not trying to write to a specific audience too. I think I would find that constipating.

      ( I was feeling very guilty at the lack of work I was getting done on the new novel until Melvin Burgess told me that he’s given up even trying to write in October/November. That was a huge relief to me! I just can’t seem to concentrate on the work at this time of year, I’m either gearing up for a talk, coming down from a talk, driving to a talk, fretting over whether or not I made a hames of a talk. LOLZ. My brain is just on fire for the whole time. I thought it was just me, It was nice to be told that othera suffer from it too!

      • Louise says:

        Thank goodness for open-minded parents! For me it’s a love affair with Sara Douglass that began at age 10, so thankfully my parents weren’t terribly concerned with the content and were just happy I had a book in my hand! I knew kids whose parents severely restricted what they read, so I could never thank my parents enough for letting me read what I wanted to. It’s funny, though, for all my moaning about the lack of quality YA books when I was a teen that three of my favourites authors happen to be Aussie YA authors. Go figure!

        I can’t even imagine what it’s like trying to write a novel when there’s so much going on! Not to mention the anxiety over having so many speaking engagements… good lord, no wonder you need a break! It’s hard enough for me at this time of year with exams! Trying to have a normal conversation with a friend turns into me being unable to talk about anything but Australian history and politics 😛

      • Oh my God, the Aussies and their wonderful attitude to YA. I went off on a right one at the panel session about how progressive and forward thinking (and just plan artistic) the Aussies are when it comes to their treatment of YA.
        Also, GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR EXAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Louise says:

        Thank you so much Celine! My life will be my own again soon enough 😉

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