Last Tuesday, November 27th, a group of young adult authors assembled at the beautiful and newly-recovered-from-Sandy (consider donating?) Brooklyn bookstore, powerhouse Arena. The authors read, the audience listened, and a lovely autumn evening was had by all.
David Levithan, acclaimed author of Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Will Grayson Will Grayson, and Every You, Every Me, read from his new book, Every Day, in which a genderless, raceless host wakes up in a different teenager’s body every day.
Alyssa Sheinmel, author of The Beautiful Between and The Lucky Kind, read from The Stone Girl, a haunting tale about a girl named Sethie who struggles with an eating disorder.
Robin Wasserman, author of a vast body of work including, but not limited to, the Seven Deadly Sins series, the Chasing Yesterday series, and the Skinned trilogy, read from her latest, The Book of Blood and Shadow, a mystery involving murder and an ancient manuscript.
Eliot Schrefer, author of Glamorous Disasters, The New Kid, and The School for Dangerous Girls, read from Endangered, a National Book Award finalist about bonobos and a girl who risks her life to care for one.
Adele Griffin (One Teen Story’s Homecoming Princess), author of two National Book Award finalists, Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be, read from her newest book, All You Never Wanted, a raw, honest story about two sisters.
After the authors read their work, we moved to a question and answer session moderated by Julie Buntin, the lovely readings/events coordinator at powerHouse. The audience wanted to know about prevalent YA issues, such as whether the recent spike in adult readership of YA books changes the way that YA authors write (it doesn’t) and whether young adults make “stupid decisions” that could prove difficult to write about in earnest. All agreed that hopefully at any stage in life, people make stupid decisions because they sincerely feel at the time that they are the right choices.
This lead to some communal musing over the close-up lens of YA and voice when writing about the teen experience. “The feeling like you will never get out of it–” Robin said, “That’s not stupidity; it’s immediacy, and [writing in that voice isn’t] dumbing yourself down; it’s remembering.”
From there, the authors moved on to a discussion about outlines (Eliot always outlines; David never does) and to editing and cutting, and the oft-proposed writing advice to “kill your darlings,” first given by William Faulkner. David revealed that he often has to cut ‘really’ and ‘just’ because he “just doesn’t see them.”
“That’s actually weird,” Adele chimed in, “Because I always have to cut ‘actually’ and ‘weird’.