Friday, July 12, 2013


It's time for our monthly roundtable! This month, inspired by the recent twitter trend #MSWL, we decided to ask our teens what's on their "manuscript wish list." The discussion was fun and informative and included—as always—tons of book recommendations. Enjoy! 

Alison: About two weeks ago, various agents and editors tweeted what was on their manuscript wish list and we are curious as to what's on yours. In other words, what would you like to see in YA fiction (or nonfiction!) I posted some examples in the email I sent out, but here's the tumblr archive:
Chihuahua Zero: One thing that I like are shapeshifters of the non-werefolk kind.
Katy: Easy -- romance.
Riv Re: I'd be really interested in seeing a fantasy novel with a political intrigue focus, like A Song of Ice and Fire
Chihuahua Zero: @Riv Re: Yeah. With one of my stories, I'm still considering how important the intrigue aspect is to the overall series.
Riv Re: CZ, I just love the mind-games approach. I don't think I could ever immerse myself in it enough to write it well, but the complexity, and the subtlety, is something I would love to read.
Chihuahua Zero: With my story, with Book One, it's just one man vs. the good guys, with a third faction plopping the co-protagonist in without caring about what happens. I'm having conceptual problems with it.
Matt: Riv - ASoIaF YA? That would be so awesome.
Chihuahua Zero: But Games of Thrones YA would be awesome also. Even though I haven't read/watched it.
Matt: I would love to see more YA high fantasy myself. Or more hard Sci-Fi. I feel like all the YA I read, even the heavy genre stuff, still feels like the genre has to be secondary to romance or "issues."
Erica: My wishlist easily includes all the historical fantasy - it's such a great genre and I love it. I also want more high fantasy and straight up sci fi
Chihuahua Zero: I would like to read some 1920's fantasy.
Erica: I want people to get what actual sci fi is - people in YA these days just think anything futuristic = dystopian
Chihuahua Zero: One story idea I wrote some of and proceed to abandon was Roaring Twenties.
Alison: CZ - it's not fantasy, so to speak, but have you read THE DIVINERS? LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that book! And the roaring twenties.
Erica: Chihuahua - OOOO! Read Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel - it takes place during the dust bowl. I mean it takes place like in the 30s but SO excellent. I'm currently devouring the sequel.
Riv Re: I'm a bit wary of sci-fi in general. Not sure why, but I have little interest in it. (Even though I'm a Whovian and, recently, a Trekkie.)
Erica: Riv - You just have to read the good stuff 
Chihuahua Zero: I saw this one book that looked like a chick flick in the 20's and I was about to check it out and then I saw it was a sequel and the original wasn't it. 
Matt: Riv, I don't really see the Doctor as hard sci-fi. I mean it's sci-fi, sure, but it's all character driven stuff, which is why they get away with all the cheap effects.
Chihuahua Zero: Yep. Doctor Who is all about the characters.
Riv Re: Matt, I've never imagined DW as sci-fi either. It feels more like an adventure to me, a fairy tale. The aliens feel relateable, and the technology is subtle.
Matt: Totally agree.
Katy: I might be the only book nerd on the planet who has never watched Doctor Who.
Erica: I have never watched Doctor Who either - I just don't have time to watch TV. I'm like half a season behind on True Blood and a season and a half behind on Vampire Diaries which were the only shows I was actually watching consistently
Alison: I haven't seen DW either, Katy. I'm with Erica. No time for TV
Matt: You bettter start, Katy. I was resistant for a long while, because the episodes I saw in the 80s seemed so bad to me, but then my kids talked me into watching the new ones, and they're pretty incredible.
Riv Re: start from Matt Smith, Season 5. It saves time, and you'll be all ready for the internet to explode come November
Katy: Matt, my husband has watched it and he likes it
Matt: See?
Katy: If I start on Season 5, won't I be confused?
Matt: You'll be confused for a bit no matter where you start. But like most time paradoxes, it will work itself out.

Gracie: Hey! Sorry I'm late... what are we talking about?
Matt: Well ... Doctor Who. But we're SUPPOSED to be talking about our YA wishlists.
Riv Re: Gracie, originally, what we would like to see in books
Gracie: Oh OK. So I was looking at the agent/editor wishlist thing today and one thing they said a lot was sibling relationships and I totally agree. I'd love to see more sibling stories  Or not even necessarily stories about siblings, just present sibling relationships
Matt: I just finished Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley (last year's Printz) and it has a pretty epic sibling relationship narrative.
Alison: I loved that book, Matt! And true - that it does
Matt: So good, Alison!
Gracie: Ooh! The other thing I was going to say was present parents. And like, a lot of development with parent/child relationships, too
Alison: THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE (Robin Benway) is a really good book about sibling relationships too. And it's Robin Benway, so...WIN
Gracie: Ooh Robin Benway... what else did she write?
Alison: AUDREY, WAIT! Which I LOVE
Gracie: Oh! I read that. I think I liked it
Katy: I like books with emphasis on sibling relationships too. Any books that feature family dynamics are cool.
Gracie: Yes on family dynamics. I just think that sibling or parent relationships are always pushed to the side in favor of romantic relationships 

Chihuahua Zero: One idea that has been stuck in my mind was a series centered around an ensemble. So instead of having the book be centered on just one protagonist, a few characters share the limelight. Or maybe there's one distinct protagonist, but an emphasis on the cast.
Gracie: I like bigger casts  Especially if it's multiple POV
Katy: CZ - that's sort of what I'm working on. There's a group of three POV characters.
Alison: I'm always impressed with authors that can pull off multiple POVs
Gracie: I don't know why but I looove multiple POVs. It's alway so fun seeing the story from multiple sides... especially if there's romance haha
Riv Re: I'm a huge fan of good, rounded side characters.
Alison: Oh, Riv - I LOVE side characters. I always played them in high school plays so I'm a big fan

Chihuahua Zero: And while I'm at it, I need to read more LGBT outside of a non-issues context.
Riv Re: I'd like to see LGBT characters that are more than their sexuality. I've never been so interested in LGBT (dark books about issues aren't usually my thing) but David Levithan's Boy Meets Boy is one of my favorites.
Katy: I agree, Riv!
Chihuahua Zero: David Levithan is on my radar.
Riv Re: Everyone should read David Levithan. I've only read one book, and I'm in love.
Alison: I was sold on David Levithan after I read Will Grayson. I just picked up INVISIBILITY from the library and can't wait to read
Gracie: Wow so many books to add to my TBR list tonight... 
Chihuahua Zero: Invisibility...I must check it out also. 
Chihuahua Zero: Random thought: Why aren't there more YA unanchored from reality? For example, maybe some black comedy literature about serial killer sisters.
Matt: Um, there is actually a book exactly like that, CZ!  Slice of Cherry:
Chihuahua Zero: I'll check this out!

Gracie: What's the most crazily unique book that anyone has read recently? Like, a book that just stuck out completely?
Matt: Andrew Smith books are always like that. So unique. WINGER was the last one.
Chihuahua Zero: It's not YA, but the Lana Harvey series by Angela Roquet has an interesting approach to the afterlife.
Riv Re: I've read a ton of super unique ones, but my mind is totally blanking right now.
Gracie: Haha that's what always happens to me when people ask me for book recs too
Riv Re: When asked for recs, I usually have a stock list that I rave about: Graceling, Hunger Games, and a few more....
Chihuahua Zero: I'm reading Howl's Moving Castle right now. It was on sale.
Matt: OMG I saw that sale on my Kindle CZ!
Chihuahua Zero: Summary of mythos: ALL THE RELIGIONS.
Alison: Okay, so I don't know if this qualifies as crazy unique - but I finished NOBODY BUT US recently - I best describe it as a Bonnie and Clyde YA. I've never seen that before.
Gracie: Ooh I want to read that.
Alison: It's SO GOOD
Gracie: I shall have to see if it's my library...
Chihuahua Zero: Another interesting book I ready lately was INNOCENT LITTLE CRIMES. It's And Then There Was None with drama club washups, and with only one death.
Alison: I personally am a huge Avengers fan and so I really crave superhero stories. Or just teens with powers.
Gracie: Ooh what would be fun is something like Sky High. I love that movie
Riv Re: Really getting Avengers lately, too. In the past 24 hours, I've seen both Hulk and Iron Man 2. Debating whether to watch Captain America or Thor tonight...
Matt: They're both good, Riv.
Gracie: Wow I have not seen any of these movies... although I'm not into action movies very much
Alison: And now I feel a superhero marathon coming on...

So, what's on your MSWL? What would you like to see more of in YA stories? Tell us in the comments! And don’t forget to join us next month for another rousing roundtable!
PS—we're always open to topic ideas so feel free to share your thoughts on that in the comments too! 



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