Monday, March 28, 2011

Hard Topics

The week before last, I attended the Teen Author Festival at the New York Public library. I meant to tell you about it sooner but I guess it took me a little longer to digest than usual. I sat through 3 panels with some terrific authors: "Telling Truths- Hard Topics, Illuminating Fiction", the "Debut Author Showcase" and "I Think I Love You (But Maybe I Don't?)- Writing About Teens in Love"

I loved every minute of every panel and was truly excited about the literature out there for young adults. I was impressed with the people who are writing for teens. And during the "Debut Author Showcase" I just kept thinking, maybe if I close my eyes and make a wish, I will be up there someday. Of course, that's a hard thing for me to admit because I don't know if it will happen for me. But, as Tyler's Uncle Mike says, thoughts become things, so maybe I'll keep thinking and dreaming it and then it will be real.

The first panel was my favorite, even though the authors joked that they were upset to be chosen for the 'depressing' panel. Because hard topics are just that...hard topics. These authors write books that deal with issues like rape, kidnapping, death of a parent, cyber stalking, murder, etc. And, of course, I was all over that because those are the books I like. The books that have the courage to take on the hard stuff. I wonder if those are the books that other people like. Because I don't always hear about them or see them out on the front tables at the bookstore (admittedly, I am not as well read in young adult literature as I would like to be.) I'm not going to suggest that they don't exist. They absolutely do. They are the books I seek out above all else, even if I have to dig a little deeper for them.

I wonder if people like to read books full of harsh realities. Or if they like to read books where they can escape to some place a little softer. You know my preference. Which do you prefer?

UPDATE: Some of you had asked about the authors on the panels. You can find a list of the panelists here.


  1. I would have been front row for that panel - I love painful, dark, gritty books.

  2. Oh, I like both types of books w/one exception. If the book is too graphic (especially if it's a rape or abuse book), I'm never going to open it no matter how many people love it. I have a whole complicated rationale for this and scale of how much I can take, but there are some wicked things in the world, I seem unable to read about. Same w/movies.

    All the panel topics sound really cool. Wish I could have gone to that.

  3. So neat!! I would have loved that one too. Which ones I prefer really depend on my mood. Softer when I'm having a hard time already, harder the rest of the time!

  4. I have to be in the right mindset for it, but I do like books that are not all light and fluff. If a serious topic is handled well and given context and meaning, I am all for it.
    Can you tell us the debut authors who were at the panel?

  5. I love going to events like this! Went to a great one in Omaha, NE, a few years ago. Really need to find another something local.

  6. Sounds like a great event! Personally, I like to escape with my reading, but every now and then, a well-done book on a serious subject is good.

  7. I think a lot of teens like those harder topics. They feel like they can relate- especially the ones that have been affected personally by one of those topics. They're pretty popular- usually they get banned or contested or something, which makes them even more popular (think Speak). So its wonderful that authors write about this stuff. I don't read it, I stick to mainly YA fantasy (and that is what I write as well). But the subject matter needs to be discussed and a lot of teens like it that way.

    Glad you had fun- SO jealous. I would have loved to go!

  8. Thanks for your vote today!

    I'm envious that you live in New York. You've got signings and conferences and workshops on your virtual doorstep all the time! I'm going to my first conference in 2 weeks and will have to drive 5 hours to get there. :(

  9. To answer your question...Yes. Clears it up, right? :)

    I like both. I love the books where I can relax, sit back, and escape into a lighthearted story. I also love books that paint heartwrenching, gut-turning pictures of pain with words. Love 'em both; sometimes I need more of one than the other. Too much of either one at the same time sends me running to the other category.

    They both have their places and audiences, and there definitely is overlap. :)

    Count me as another jealous reader!