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Saturday, August 15, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Nancy Werlin!!!

Hello there!

Nancy WerlinI'm Nancy Werlin, and I'd like first to thank Carrie, Gracen, and Margay for their generous invitation to do a guest blog post. (And Margay is a Lowell of the Boston Lowells! I'm from Boston, too, though my family is, er, rather less distinguished than the Lowells. We're nice, mind you, but pure peasant.)

I write young adult fiction. My seventh novel, Impossible, was just released on August 11, 2009, in paperback from Penguin. Impossible is a genre-bending mix of contemporary, suspense, romance, and fantasy that was inspired by the song "Scarborough Fair."

Click here for a one-minute book trailer that introduces the book!

YA FictionAlthough Impossible was originally released in hardcover as YA fiction, the paperback release will also be classified as adult, in part because the Publishers Weekly's Cuffie awards of 2008 called Impossible a "best novel for young readers that adults would love if they knew about it," and then Penguin, my publisher, said, "Hey! We think so too."

Click here to find out more about the book and here to find out more about why I desperately needed to write this particular book.

But now, I want to talk more about young adult fiction, because I think there's a great deal of it that adult readers would love if they only knew about it.

Often, adult readers who don't know much about YA fiction wonder why a writer would choose to work in this field. It usually turns out that they haven't read any YA fiction from the last 10 to 15 years and so are unaware of the astounding vibrancy of the genre. It's fair to say that fiction written for older teenagers nowadays is in a golden age. YA fiction can be and usually is as well-written and involving as fiction about adults, but it features a teenage protagonist. I can imagine no more interesting characters to work with than teens, and no more fascinating material than watching a teen transition -- under enormous pressure -- from child to adult, which is what happens in all of my books. When are your choices in life more important than when you're a teen?

Writing YA also enables a genre-bending writer like me to have all of my books shelved together at the bookstore, even though I write

YA Fiction YA Fiction
The Killer's Cousin and Locked Inside
(Edgar award honorees),

science fiction crossed with contemporary
YA Fiction
Double Helix,

YA Fiction
Black Mirror,

and contemporary literary
YA Fiction
The Rules of Survival
(National Book Award finalist),

as well as romance
YA Fiction
Are You Alone on Purpose?

and fantasy.

YA Fiction
(Impossible, of course, is both of these).

So whether or not you're interested in my books, I hope that you'll wander into the YA section of your library or bookstore soon and start browsing. It's not for nothing that books like the Harry Potter series, The Book Thief and Twilight are dominating bestseller numbers, but what you'll discover as you browse is that these are only the tip of the iceberg. The quality and range of American (not to mention British and Australian) YA fiction (and heck, nonfiction) is nothing short of extraordinary. I promise.

And frankly, I ought to know. This year, I'm chairing the National Book Award judging panel for our category, Young People's Literature. Our panel (Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, Carolyn Coman, and Gene Luen Yang -- all of which we in children's books know are writer names to conjure with) is reading upwards of 250 books published in 2009. We can pick only five books for the short list of finalists. While I'm forbidden to talk about our reading in progress, I can tell you that it's going to be a tough, tough choice, and that I personally feel humbled and incredibly lucky to be writing books for young people right here, right now.

[Thanks to Nancy for joining us even though her schedule is soooo busy!]

6 Moonbeams (comments):

Terry Kate said...

I love the cover for Impossible. It is absolutely one of the best I have seen for making me want to pick up the book and find out more about it!
Thank you for sharing about your work.
Terry Kate
Romance in the Backseat

Sheila Deeth said...

Cool. I really enjoyed your piece about what inspired Impossible. I'm not sure why, but I'd always imagined Scarborough Fair as a conversation with both sides demanding the impossible, a some sneaky way out... But I like your twist on it.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Nancy and Hostesses,

I love YA reads myself and first began reading them when vetting books for gift giving to the pre-teens and teens at church. It's amazing how good most of them really are. They have to be based on plot and character rather than sex, which I truly like and appreciate. Keep up the good work, Nancy.

Carrie said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by today!

Nancy - thanks for a great blog post and I look forward to reading Impossible!


Margay Leah Justice said...

Hey, Nancy, so glad to have you here! (And my grandmother always said, in reference to our literary connections, that we were the "poor cousins" of the vaunted Boston Lowells, so don't feel bad!) I just recently (within the last year) discovered the joys of reading YA. Ironically, it was Twilight that led me into this wonderful universe. My youngest daughter read it first - in 3 days - and enjoyed it so much, I had to get a copy and read it, too. But my older daughter beat me to it, so I had to wait. Thankfully, she also read it in a couple of days, so it wasn't a long wait! Anyway, it opened up a whole new world to me and even inspired me to try my hand at writing it.

Good luck with Impossible.


Molly Daniels said...

My kids laugh at me when I'm constantly buying YA books at the school's book fairs, but hey...that's how we found Lightening Thief and Margaret Haddix's books!