Sunday, 6 May 2012

Writing YA fiction with issues - Part 2 Q&A

Here is the second part of the issues blog, where the panel were asked questions by the audience (didn't inc me!).  Panel was Miriam Halahmy, Bali Rai and Sara Grant.

Q: How do you stop your characters having your opinions?
A: Bali said that the protagonist is a young version of him.  Miriam saidk all are imperfect.  Hope that it reflects the young thinking in books.  She has a clear focus although feels that in the end the character does have her views.  Sara covers all angles of issue.  Let's issue evolve of the opinion and theme.  Be honest with readers in the breadth of issues.  She wants to read books with characters and plot not when it is all about the issue eg environment.
Q: Is said that YA doesn't have happy endings.
A: M: her book not true.  B: his don't.  You have to entertain readers not make them happy.  The characters have to be interesting to make them stay with you.  Teens/YA need to make their own minds up about it.  YA is diverse - can have happy ending and can't.
Q: Can you write different genres? (I think that was the gist of the question)
A: B: You can't write sci-fi stuff in modern books.  Sci-fi frees you up in the practical sense of writing.  He has set book in historic times where he had brain-washing mentioned.  M: enjoys what she's writing now.  B then said don't think of it as two professions.  Don't think that so many of a genre is out there that you can't write it, do.  Nobody sets trends except readers.  M: She writes her books, not who's it for.
Q: Did the gatekeepers say no to their books?
A: M: Hidden had different opinions as the issue was the barrier.  Her publisher was the only one to take it on.  S: Was told her book was either to be darker or lighter. Says to write book what you want.  Went with the editor whom she felt got her book and listened to her.  Do cover issues that agents out there are interested in.  Is interested in reviews.  Know what you are trying to do when writing an issue for when people challenge you.  B: has process with his publisher when he wants to write.  Be realistic with what happens in the industry.  Be aware what schools like.  People do read these books although gatekeepers don't want it. S: make sure agent and editor are with you are you going to be a collobaration.  M says that more editors asks her more than she thinks.
Q: Are they comfortable when younger readers pick up their books?
A:  M said that when a 7 y-o picked up her book she was careful.  Would discourage them, but is up to them.  B: Not bad if junior has an adult with them.  Up to maturity of their age.  S: readers censor themselves by only reading bits they want to.  B: hates writers who disrespect YA writers who say it's easy to write children's books.  Concentrate on books not on for what age it is for.  S: establish a good reading habit for the young.
Q: How do editors react to different genres?
A: B did it on his own.  Have a realistic action to publishers.  Wrote them cos got annoyed that was pigeon-holed as Brit Asian author but not the only one.  Writes for anyone to read.  Marketing side is important.  If want to change direction, do.  If you want to write for different ages, then write for different publishers.  S: didn't set out to write dystopian.  Also writes for 7-9 with sparkles. Do start to think of yourself as a brand.

Lastly: S wants to write satisfactory endings.  Won't write book without hope.  Not for teens. B: honesty to readers.  Honesty with plot and characters and you.  Be true to the story.  M: prefers things to end on some hope.  You can't tie things up cos of its lifestyle.  Don't leave too many questions.  S: helpful to teens to show that things can go this way. B thinks that if readers like your book is most important.  M says they like to feel they are represented.

And that is it.  Hope you all learned a lot from this. I did.  Esp Sara's comment about wanting to read a book that entertains and not just about the issue.

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