Thursday, July 15, 2010

Doin' IT (Yes, IT) in YA

Katarinasmama and I were discussing a certain book via text and the LACK of sex in it. And how this vexed me. (Trust me. I was very vexed.) So I thought it'd be fun if we split up some of our favorite YA books into categories. I propose the following:

1. Needs Some Doin' It (e.g. Twilight)
2. Needs LESS Doin' It (e.g. Breaking Dawn *cough*Renesmee*cough*)
3. Did It JUST RIGHT (e.g. Shiver)

Did It Just Right: Well, besides Shiver, which defines JUST RIGHT, there is Lisa McMann's series, WAKE/FADE/GONE. The scene with Cabel and Janie in the shower?? Okay, yes, I'm laughing. And only because they referenced Judy Blume's Forever which is the ultimate Did It Just Right book. Who can ever forget the name "Ralph"?

So add to these some new stories where the focus isn't a Coming Of Age Theme but where there is a romantic subplot and the Doing It parts are written really well: Siren by Tricia Rayburn (out on July 13th) and the recently released Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready. They don't skirt around the issue. Yes, I enjoyed using that cliche. *skirts away*

Ah yes, Janie and Cabel. I would definitely add that to the Did It Just Right category. And Shiver! I just finished it (again) so that scene is fresh in my mind.... Yeah, Just Right.

Needs Some Doin' It: I'll say it...but JACE AND CLARY! Okay, well, there was this outtake from the Mansion Collapse Scene and that, you know, hinted at what could have happened, if only the world wasn't literally collapsing around them and well, the small matter of that they could be *coughs* siblings.

But, did anyone think that Jace and Clary were really brother and sister?? I mean, seriously? I know it's icky to even think about it. Who didn't nod their head and understand perfectly when Jace told Clary in City of Ashes (p. 182), "We could keep it a secret."

Yes, I just said it. Nodding along to Jace's request. I'll now retreat back to my lair.

Okay, CoA was a book that definitely needed SOME DOIN' IT!

I was TOTALLY with you in the whole "nudge nudge, wink wink" Jace and Clary wrongness. I actually rationalized to myself while reading that our feelings on incest come from the RELATIONSHIPS that we have with siblings, and if that you were raised separately, and had no idea, then how could you really be faulted? Especially if you were in love with Jace? *nodding no* I would not judge. Unless your kids had 10 thumbs and no nose. Then I'd judge. A little.

My favorite Jace description quote from CoA: " "Some guys look at you like they only want sex. Jace looks at you like you've had sex - it was great and now you're just friends."

Mmm... And then there's this new excerpt that Ms. Clare just released, as if she KNEW we were having this discussion, involving a bed. *grins evilly*

While this whole topic is an attempt to look humorously at the way sex is handled in YA lit, I feel like it is really important to recognize the books that get it right. It's not because I want to read about sex. (Well, not ENTIRELY. *winks*) It's because if I'm going to have a discussion with my children ABOUT sex, these are the types of encounters I want to discuss. Ones, like in Shiver, where it is portrayed as a natural progression of a loving relationship. It wasn't taken lightly, nor was it glorified. It just WAS.

I think the subject is out there, Leigh, and some books Do It, some just avoid it, and then some *smiles at Julie Kagawa* keep their characters too busy just trying to survive and leave no time for more than a really hot kiss and a declaration of "never again".

I've had THE TALK with my 11yo DS. It is important to present what should happen, i.e. "natural progression of a loving relationship" but also one must talk about the repercussions of unprotected sex, i.e. avoiding the half-vamp, half-human baby.

Which is also a great point. So I guess Renesmee serves a purpose after all.

All seriousness aside, just about any book with an "OMG we will all die in battle tomorrow" plot line NEEDS SOME DOIN' IT. *coughs and glares at Julie Kagawa* #TeamAsh

So, what do y'all think? What books would you put into the Needs More/Needs Less/Just Right categories? Let us know!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Author Interview with Rosemary Clement-Moore

If you read my review of the Maggie Quinn books, by Rosemary Clement-Moore, you know how much I love her. So imagine my glee when she agreed to let me interview her, which was just a thinly veiled excuse to grill her about her books and fangirl all over her. Getting to post it here is just a bonus. ;)



1. So, the BIG QUESTION: Will we see more Maggie? I know you are currently working on a non-Maggie book, which sounds awesome, but I am holding out hope that we haven't seen the last of Maggie, et al. If you did continue, will you have to freeze the characters in time (kinda like Nancy Drew) to extend the series? I'm curious as to how the college-relationship-growth progression would affect future books.

I haven't sold any more Maggie books, which isn't to say I won't someday. I know Maggie et. al. are going to have many many more adventures, the question is whether they'll be chronicled in books. Or Young Adult books, since, as you alluded, they've been aging and could grow out of the age group. (Which is the one drawback of a YA series, unless you do the 'freezing' thing.)

I originally envisioned this as an ongoing 'monster of the week' series, very much like Nancy drew, were the characters might not change very much as they faced demons. But look what happened! I feel like the characters' growth, both their personal evolution and their relationships, is such an integral part of the story. I can't imagine putting that in stasis. (Which is not to say I couldn't slow the timeline so the next (hypothetical) stories take place all over one summer, or a month, or a week.)

2. Are you tired of the Nancy Drew/Buffy the Vampire Slayer comparisons? Did you cringe when you read my review? It's meant as high praise. I think I read my copy of "Death By Design" until the binding gave out. #NancyDrewForever ;)

Um, *I* pitched this book as "Nancy Drew meets Buffy." So, no. I mean, I love Nancy. She was smart, brave and resourceful, and Ned Nickerson rescued her fewer times over the whole series than some heros rescue some girls in the space of one BOOK! And Nancy rescued HIM almost as often. And Buffy is an icon of my generation. Although sometimes I feel like *every* strong, young female character who encounters supernatural creatures gets compared to Buffy, so it's a bit of a cliche. But I own it. There are a lot worse things to be compared to.

3. I really enjoyed the progression of Maggie and Lisa's friendship through the three books. I feel like forgiveness and loyalty are rare commodities sometimes, and it's really nice to see both the struggle and the payoff. Do you see Lisa's character ever coming to term with her skills? Do you think she'll ever, truly, forgive herself for her mistakes?

Ah Lisa. She was supposed to be a minor character, some comic relief, and the more I wrote her, the more I loved her. And as the books went on, I knew that I wanted the girls' friendship to be just as important as the romantic relationship. Because your girlfriends SHOULD be just as important at that stage in your life. (Maybe always.) So it had to be tested, and they emerged from the fire with their bond transformed into something much more complex than besties who hang out at the mall.

Lisa is on her own journey, and we get glimpses of it in the books, but I think it's an ongoing thing. Maggie's forgiveness is a kind of absolution in Lisa's mind, but she also feels the rest of her life will be atonement. And oh. my. gosh. I hope I get to write that story someday.

4. Justin. Just Justin. I love him. #geeklove. That is all.

Um... I hope you're not expecting disagreement from me.

5. Okay, that's not all. THANK YOU for giving us a member of Maggie's team whose "gift" is one we could all possess: intelligence and open-mindedness. (Yes, I know these last two weren't questions. It just felt right to keep up the numbers.)

Intelligence and open-mindedness are the best superpowers ever. So, you're welcome.

6. Do you have a favorite character (other than Maggie) that you've written?

Ooooo... I tend to love them all, even the ones that have harder shells, like Lisa and Sylvie, the heroine of The Splendor Falls. Sylvie was SO miserable at the beginning of the book, and she went on such a transformative journey, that she became very dear to me in a completely different way than Maggie, who is fairly self-actualized, if only by comparison.

But this book I'm working on now... Just wait until you meet Amy and Ben. *cackles madly*

7. Maggie's background is Catholic, and in some ways I think familiarity with the concept of a Heaven and Hell probably makes it easier for me (as a reader) to understand how she's viewing the events around her. Were you concerned about bringing a religious aspect into your books?

This is just me-- if I'm going to talk about demons, or really more to the point, Evil (capital E), how can I completely avoid mentioning the architecture humans have in place for fighting it, i.e. religion. And if you're going to have Evil, why dodge the question of whether there are similar forces of Good (capital G) in the universe?

The problem is, it's a touchy subject. I try to avoid coming off as dogmatic, or worse, preachy. (Maggie does say that not all of "Team Good" may wear the same jerseys.) Most of the supernatural structure of the novels fits (with some imagination) into the theology of my upbringing, but I'm a fiction writer, not an apologist, so I only have to answer to my conscience, not an Inquisition. (Um, I hope.) In the end, religion is how Maggie tries to fathom the unfathomable, but I think (hope) it's clear in the books that individual choices and actions are more important than religious affiliation.

8. Do you believe in demons and angels and general forces of Good and Evil? If so (I do, so this is an issue for me) was it hard for you to write and research any parts of these books? Like with the computer scene, did you fear opening yourself to something negative during your writing?

I have been working way too long on this answer. I was going to talk about how this is all made up for the purposes of storytelling, and free will trumps everything else, and blah blah blah rationalitycakes, when I realized that while I'm perfectly okay with Googling "protective magical charms," I wouldn't want to type "how to summon a demon" into a search engine.

Go figure. It's more about an idea than a reality. I'm less worried about a "real" demon than the real person who thinks it would be cool idea to summon one.

I believe that there are forces in the universe for good and evil, but that they are utterly beyond anything we would expect them to look like, maybe even beyond our ability to wrap our head around. I think that's why we, as artists, describe them in paint and words, to try and get a handle on what is obscure and profound.

But we humans, unfortunately, are capable of plenty of evil on our own, without any help from supernatural sources. I also think we're capable of extraordinary good. I chose to focus on the latter.

Thanks for interviewing me! Hope some of those last answers weren't too long. Believe it or not, I don't get asked those things very often.



Alright, so if you didn't love her before, how could you not after that? Just the right amount of smart, funny, and evil. *shakes fist at references to new characters and new books* I hope you're reading her books and loving them as much as I am. Visit her blog at and join me in the "Cheer Rosemary Along" club!