Authors are everywhere at ALA. Some are signing books,’ promoting an upcoming one, or speaking at programs on a variety of topics.’ Orson Scott Card is one of the authors here who spoke at a luncheon for the Margaret A. Edwards Award. He won this award for his lifetime contribution to young adult literature, and part of’  the process is to invite the winner to a luncheon to speak.

Since that luncheon I’ve heard many people say how great a speaker he is. The one thing many have taken is a that he didn’t write Ender’s Game or any of his books for children, but that they found it on their own.

I’ve heard other authors say this as well, including Stephanie Meyers and Scott Westerfeld. What so you think it is that makes a book YA or Teen?

About Jami Schwarzwalder

Currently a teen librarian with the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA.She is passionate about technology, making, and learning. See what I'm up to at

3 Thoughts on “YA Authors

  1. Kat Kan on June 28, 2008 at 7:13 pm said:

    I can only speak to Ender’s Game. I’ve been a major science fiction fan since I was a kid, and when I read Ender’s Game the year it was published, I just felt that teens would love it. If it had come out when I was a teen, I would have loved it back then. I just happened to be working temporarily in the YA department of Hawaii State Library at the time, so I asked the head of that department to get the book for YA. I subsequently booktalked it. I was right. Teens liked it. Not all teens, but those who liked science fiction immediately grabbed it. It was the whole concept of the book that grabbed me from the outset. Using young kids and turning them into soldiers who could kill at such young ages. Of course, now it seems even more timely. Being the outsider was another theme. All that kind of stuff resonated with me when I was a teen – it’s what drew me to Anne McCaffrey’s books when I was a teen.

  2. KellyT on June 28, 2008 at 11:17 pm said:

    I think traditionally people think of books as teen-oriented if they feature teen characters or are written by teens, but there are a lot of books that can “live” in a teen collection even if they aren’t written by or for a teen. A few years ago I saw A. Lee Martinez talk about his Alex Award winning book Gil’s All Fright Diner. He was so surprised that there would be teen interest because the main characters aren’t teens. In fact the two teens in the novel are kinda evil. 🙂 Even Gregory Galloway’s As Simple as Snow was marketed first as an adult book even though the two main characters are both teens. Goes to show you — even the book publishing companies are not sure where to put books sometimes… or maybe it’s that adult imprints are finding out that teen titles have blockbuster potential?

  3. I think this is a good question, Jami. Here are my criteria, though, I wouldn’t say the book has to have all the elements
    * The protagonist is a young adult
    * The story is told from the point of view of the young adult WHILE they are a young adult (it doesn’t have the ‘flavor’ or tone of adult hindsight)
    * The central themes of the book are young adult issues, most often, identity/self awareness.
    * The story has teen appeal
    * The end of the story is often a place where a new story could begin – there is a commencement feel to the conclusion

    I’m a big fan of adult books for young adults, and I think some of the things that edge books into this category are teen protagonists, but more adult themes or tat feeling of memoir or hindsight.

    I think American publishing companies pigeonhole a lot more than other countries, for marketing purposes. I’d love to see more great books for YAs come out with more sophisticated covers (like Harry Potten and Golden Compass and Lirael) to appeal to the adult market.

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