Anica Rissi is an editor with Simon & Schuster's YA imprint, PULSE. She talked about YA, and again, her talk was worth the price of admission for me because she gave me all sorts of permission. Yes, I know that I'm a grown woman, and I really shouldn't need anyone's permission--but there you have it.
In her talk, Anica emphasized that dark books are the perfect place for teens to experience some really dark things. It's a safe place to learn and to become aware.
She really helped convince me that there is absolutely a place for dark books in teens' reading material. Now, of course as a teen, I knew that and gobbled up those kind of books. In fact, in high school I carried around a copy of my mom's Fear of Flying (a very racy book, back in the day) just for the shock value, although I never read it. I think it was too boring for me at the time. So much for racy. :-)
But as an adult, I tend to keep one eye to being responsible--the kiss of death in YA. This talk reminded me how I need to be true to my teen self, and throw my parental self right out the frickin' window. Yep. That splat you heard was my parental self hitting the pavement. Ha!
From Anica Rissi:
YA is always in the moment, often in first person so the reader can feel the immediacy. Never looking back.
Simon Pulse only handles YA, mostly older YA, 14 and up or 16 and up.
She defines commercial as having the broadest audience possible, which I thought was a terrific definition.
Teens live online.
Personally, she loves edgy, she loves dark, and she loves big mistakes. YA is all about figuring out who you are and what you believe.
Mistakes have consequences and working through those consequences make for a great book.
Loves books about girls making wrong choices and going farther and farther down that bleack, heartbreaking road. Needs cathartic release of those kinds of reads.
Likes books with a big ol' honkin' HOOK, something that everyone "gets" upon hearing about it.
Also loves Quirky Humor and Dark Humor, as well as Paranormal.
Looking for emotional truth. Also likes to explore faith as an identity issue.
What does she see on the horizon?