Author Guest PostHello there, insatiable readers!There’s someone new wearing the apron today! Your delightful web-chef has let me, author Katie Williams, knock around in her kitchen today, as long as I promise to wash all the dishes and put her spice rack back in alphabetical order. Since Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers is so admirably inclusive with its reviews—adult, YA, science fiction, fantasy, everyone is welcome—I thought it might be fun to cook up a few thoughts about the young adult novel, more specifically, what moral responsibility YA writers have to their readers.Up until quite recently, my writing background was in fiction for adults, but then my first novel, The Space Between Trees, sold as a YA novel, and I had to think about what these classifications meant—children’s books versus young adult, young adult versus adult.Protagonist age and reading difficulty seemed to be the obvious differences, and there’s certainly something to be said for the ease of finding the right shelf in the bookstore. Beyond that, though, I eventually decided that a good story was just a good story.Then a writer friend asked me if a YA novel had to have some sort of moral at its end. “No, no.” I waved the idea away. “Maybe children’s books do, but not YA.”But the question stuck with me. It echoed whenever someone remarked that Bella Swann was not a good role model for teenage girls or that Katniss Everdeen was. I heard it in the approval for YA books that “taught an important lesson” and in the panicked claims that Harry Potter glorifies witchcraft. And I began to worry a bit about my own novel, which includes teenage girls behaving pretty horrifically and ends with no moral whatsoever except, perhaps, that being an adult is messier and scarier than you expect it to be when you’re a child. So was I doing harm to my teenage readers? Had I forsaken my role as a moral guide?I’ve thought about this a good bit. I’ve thought about the books I read as a teenager, both adult and YA, and what these books gave me.Here’s where I’ve ended up:The story is the lesson. Reading allows us to step into someone else’s skin and walk around for a bit. Through stories, we experience situations different from our own and people different from those around us in the most intimate way, sitting inside characters’ heads or hovering just over their shoulders. Ultimately, a story gives the reader empathy. And isn’t that the greatest lesson of all, no matter one’s age?I’d love to hear what you think. Does a YA novel bear moral responsibility that an adult novel doesn’t?
Now, one last thing before I stop inundating you with posts of greatness today, and believe me, you'll forgive me for dragging on when you here this. Thanks to the generous folks over at Chronicle Books (thanks, Lara!) and the wonderful author, I have the privilege of offering YOU the chance to win a SIGNED copy of the book for your own reading pleasure! (Got ahead, take a moment to do a happy dance...no one's looking....*peek*) Here's the scoop....
Good luck to everyone!
Until next time....happy reading!