This is my last of three posts reflecting on what I learned at YALLFest a few weeks ago. I’m sure I could go on for the foreseeable future, but I’m going to stop at three. I’m not focusing on one or two authors here, but overall takeaways from the weekend.
- YALLFest was a really radical place to be. I somehow managed to forget that last year, YALLFest proved to be a verbally acknowledged space for mourning and hope post-election. This year, every panel was on top of social issues, every author that spoke talked about changing the world through literature, and Libba Bray kicked off the end party by singing “Born this Way” with a rainbow flag cape. That pervasive sense of hope and, yes, activism and revolution through YA, was tangible and amazing. It made me think, yes, this is where I need to be, what I need to strive for.
- Strong characters make strong stories, and weak characters break stories.
- From Soman Chainani: You have to be in love with your story. IN LOVE. That will hold it together when things get messy. Write with love and the honesty of your on experience of being.
- From Patrick Ness: Write the books you should have had. Write the books that you needed.
- From Cassandra Clare: extreme pain in a book can clear the way for great happiness.
- I can’t wait for YALLFest 2018.
I am always thinking about how authors have shaped me, as a person and as a writer. Every so often I write a line of dialogue or use a turn of phrase, look at it, and realize that’s not me, it’s another author speaking through me.
I’ve tried to go for non-obvious options (so not Riordan, Colfer, Rowling, Lewis…) and steer towards subtler influences. I find it endlessly fascinating (and a little upsetting) that something which rocked my world to the core didn’t touch another’s life.
Naturally, most of them are concentrated in my childhood, which is why I personally believe MG and YA to be some of the most important literature out there. In no particular order, and with no discrimination towards genre, here are five authors + books to whom I owe quite a bit.
- Diane Duane and the Young Wizards Series: the dregs of Duane’s writing will probably be forever apparent in my own, in both tone and theory. I have met one other physical person who has read these books not of my urging, a beloved religious studies professor and kindred spirit.
- Wendy Mass and Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life: the first realistic fiction book that really made me stop and think dang, that was a good book.
- Pat Murphy and The Wild Girls. This book had a level of influence on my life and writing that I cannot quite comprehend. I keep finding plot elements of it that I’ve subconsciously incorporated into my writing. It’s a book about a girl learning to write, which can be hard, but it’s also much, much more than that.
- Elizabeth Kay and The Divide series: a cooler feat of magical worldbuilding I have yet to find. The ending devastates me to this day, but in a good way.
- Francis Hardinge and Fly by Night: this book was my artistic muse as a child. I really do need to re-read it. I am left with the barest memories of geese, musty books, and a claustrophobic city.
I have of course read more books that have profoundly impacted me, and I hope I never stop meeting them along the way. But childhood books are different. They get you while you’re still malleable, and they change you. It’s kind of magical.
✴This has been a queued post, as I am currently in the Amazon with no Wifi.✴
My extended family is in town today, so I don’t have time to write a very long post–I’ll make up for it next week. My friends are doing some amazing literary things right now, so I thought I’d spread the word. Below are a blog and book recommendation.
- The Edwin Project: Zoe Kaplan is reviewing old science fiction stories published in magazines owned by her grandfather, circa 1950s. She is reading through the volumes and deciding which have stood the test of time, and which truly have not. Follow for 50s slang, corporeal ghosts, and mysteries of the universe.
- Waters of Salt and Sin: An epic new release by Alisha Klapheke, starring a sea-faring salt witch in a quest to rescue her. The author is awesome, and so is the story. High-stakes sailing, creepy sea wraiths and a unique magic system, and some killer worldbuilding lie within.
I’m off to go play Apples To Apples with my grandparents.