Around 2pm on Saturday I made my way to the Center Stage tent, which was sponsored by the very cool youth-fueled magazine The Mash, to listen to a discussion moderated by Amy Guth and focusing on YA Fiction. The sun was out by this point and attendance was down, but the discussion was quality. The group (Ariela Anhalt, Beth Fantasky, Margaret McMullan, and J. Adams Oaks) started by proclaiming the return of the plot based novel. They then went on to talk about the internet as a more potent promotional tool for Young Adult authors as opposed to other genres. They agreed that this might be due to the more interactive nature of the YA reader.
My favorite question of the discussion centered on the writer’s entrance into the genre of YA Fiction. Did they set out to write a YA novel? Did they sit down with that audience in mind? The answer was a unanimous “NO”. In fact, I have yet to meet a YA author that set out to be a YA Author. They were all told by their publishers after the manuscript had been submitted.
The conversation also focused around the topic of subject matter and how far is too far in YA fiction. This is an area that is very gray and is constantly being redefined. If you’ve read the work of Chicago’s Stephanie Kuehnert you see that there really aren’t too many limits in subject matter or language. However, these writers focused mostly on the limit surrounding sex. However, they felt that most thing were “fair game”, and believe that the more they limit content the less interested the audience will become.
This is just one example of the interesting discussion that took place over the weekend, and I feel this is will help bring even bigger crowd of enthusiastic readers to the event next year. Whether it is the readings, the discussions, the music, the books, or the live art, Printers Row this year was better than ever.