YA NOT? takes on sex, drugs, vampires, and other fun stuff
November 6, 2009
Last night we had our fourth installment of YA NOT?: a literary salon for not-so-young adults, and hosted not one, not two, but THREE fantastic YA authors. It was the sort of evening that started with the reveal that originally the authors had intended to name the evening “Hookers and Blow,” and ended with Robin recommending that everyone in the audience eat fruit.
Robin, on being asked what, if anything, she takes into consideration about her readers when writing, and whether YA authors have an obligation to think about their stories having a moral: “What is writing a book, anyway, if it’s not trying to convince people that this is the way the world is and this is how you should feel about it? Authors who write for adults do the same thing. They just don’t call it a moral.”
Libba, after being asked if being a parent has changed her mind about whether there is any content truly unacceptable in YA fiction and if there’s anything she wouldn’t let her son read: “I mean, are you asking if I’m worried my kid is going to go off and read books that are too grown-up for him? Because no, no I’m not at all concerned about my kid sneaking away and secretly READING.”
On the responsibilities of YA authors, Carolyn said: “The only responsibility authors have is to their story.”
And Robin said: “I think the only obligation we have is to acknowledge that books change people’s lives. We can’t control reader reaction to our books, good or bad. But we need to remember that our words matter.”
In case you were wondering which superpowers each authors would go for: Libba wants to be fluent in all languages. Robin wants teleportation. And Carolyn wants to be able to rewind time.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening, however, was Carolyn’s introduction of the word “spoony” to the proceedings (and to most of the attendees). Though none of us had heard of it beforehand—and Robin adamantly protested against its very existence—it nonetheless came to dominate the evening and appear in the answer to almost every question.
Unfortunately for Robin, though, it is a very well-documented word. Here, for example, is the Merriam-Webster entry: “silly, foolish; especially : unduly sentimental.” It’s also in the Routledge Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, along with this delightful example of usage: “I felt rather spoony upon that vixen.” The final nail in the coffin, however, is its use in David Copperfield, and yet another fantastic sentence: “There is no doubt whatsoever that I was a lackadaisical young spoony.”
Spoony! Please try to use it as many times as possible today, and keep last night’s YA NOT? alive.
I’ll end the post with this thought from Robin, who told us that she has not read many classic books:
“I do think it’s valuable to read them, though. I just don’t do it. Like fruit! I don’t eat it. But I advise that you do.”
YA NOT will be on hiatus next month, but stay tuned for more fantastic YA authors next year! To learn more about last night’s authors—all WORD favorites, all highly recommended—check out their websites: Libba, Robin, and Carolyn. Signed copies of their newest books available at WORD as long as supplies last!