Friday, February 28, 2014

Diversity in Sci-Fi


I like sci-fi. On a Buzzfeed list of "Top Ten Kinds of Media Copil Consumes!" sci-fi is number two, ahead of Fantasy and Non-Fiction, and just behind Mos Eisley Eroge (that's a kind of video game set in the Star Wars Universe, where patrons at the cantina are paired. . .erm. . .erotically).

So imagine my surprise when I discovered there's a roiling gyre within the sci-fi ocean consisting almost entirely of douchebags. Actually, I'm being unkind. . .to douchebags.

I guess I was too busy, oh, I dunno, IMAGINING A FRIENDLY UTOPIAN FUTURE to see how awful some of my fellow enthusiasts are. When you're brought up on a steady diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who, you can be forgiven for thinking that sci-fi authors, filmmakers, and consumers are an enlightened, progressive bunch. And many of them truly are, no question.

I met a lot of them at sci-fi conventions where we'd 
gossip like Ferengi at a Tongo table, tell lies about the complete 1977 Topps Star Wars Trading Card Set we had back home, quote our favorite movie lines, and watch slack-jawed as our heroes walked on stage and let us pretend, for a moment, that we all lived in the same, really cool universe.

Long before college, and, later, the West Hollywood Halloween Parade, introduced me to the vast diversity of the human condition, I was already cool with people of all races, creeds, and colors co-existing in one place. Because sci-fi. That's a pretty powerful lesson. One I feel is lost on some fans and creators.

I've talked about this before, but, for some reason, bad behavior seems to be on the rise. Perhaps it's because big names like John Scalzi have brought this to the fore in reaction to creeper convention attendees. He now asks cons that invite him as a guest if they have a "No Harassment Policy" in place. If they don't? Good luck with CreeperCon, but Mr. Scalzi is unavailable.

I'm a glass-half-full-of-Romulan-Ale kinda guy. So I'm hopeful the fact that we're seeing lots of bad behavior recently means we're more attentive to it, and people feel more comfortable reporting it, knowing their concerns won't be mocked or dismissed. It's darkest before the dawn, and all that.

The issue erupted again recently when the latest episode of Authors Behaving Badly hit the Internet. In this installment, a group of writers at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America discussed their butthurt at women, people of color, and all those other damn people who won't get off their lawns, for having the audacity to call them on misogynistic, homophobic, and racist behavior.

For a good review of what started it all and how it developed, check out SL Huang's timeline here. Predictably, the SFFWA authors tossed around words like "censorship," and "Stalinist," and "thought control." Not so predictably, they didn't seem to know what any of those words meant.

Just a reminder, if you feel the need to wrap yourself in the US Constitution and claim you have a right to free speech, don't confuse a right to be free from censorship for a right to be free from criticism.

N.K. Jemisin has a far better response to the situation than I do. You can find it here.

One thing I noticed after reading as much of the SFFWA thread as I could stomach, was that a number of participants mentioned young and/or self-published authors as being the masterminds behind this groundswell of opposition to their authority over sci-fi.

Uh, whut?

All I could think of was this quote I just totally made up:

"You know what? That next generation is looking pretty sharp."
- Said No Generation, Ever

Maybe, and I'm being charitable here, these guys aren't really afraid of women and minorities, they're afraid of change. It can be pretty daunting to see the energy of youth running rings around your logic, and no manner of swatting at it or telling it it's time for bed seems to have any affect.

We need women and minorities in sci-fi. We need diversity of creed and gender. We need Native American sci-fi, and Mexican sci-fi, and transgender sci-fi. Not to satisfy some Politically Correct movement (another tired bogeyman trotted out on the SFFWA thread), but to fulfill the promise that makes sci-fi so appealing. The universe is big. There's room enough for everyone.

It also forces us to face our prejudices and bigotries.

A few years ago, the cover of Catwoman Zero was criticized for its depiction of the female form.


As a comic book reader, I am well aware that sexed-up covers have long been used to sell issues. But I am embarrassed to say that until women spoke up about what, exactly, was wrong with this cover, I hadn't REALLY thought about it. The way her body bends in an unnatural effort to present disproportionate front and back? The depiction is anatomically impossible. It's one thing to depict a character as sexy. It's another to completely remove her humanity to do so. You're going to tell me that doesn't affect how guys see girls? Or how girls see themselves? C',mon, man. Absent women in comics, would that image ever be contested? They called shenanigans, the cover was changed, and we're all the better for it.

But you can't have that kind of discussion if you don't have a diversity of creators and consumers.

Notice I'm not even saying people have to read sci-fi by minorities or women. Read what you want. But as more of them enter the fray, their presence and contributions can't help but change the dialogue. Some people won't like that, but sci-fi has always struck me as being about change, and how we deal with it.

I should take a moment to apologize to all the women and people of color who DO write sci-fi. I don't mean to marginalize your presence by implying you're not there at all. You are, of course (anyone who reads lots of YA happily knows this). My point is that I hope more women and minorities will follow your example. You show us parallel worlds with characters who look like a broader cross-section of the general population. As readers identify with characters who look and think like them, it inspires them to participate.

More stories, more variety, more visions, more worlds. That greater diversity is better for  the genre and everyone who enjoys it.

It's also probably scary to some people.

If only there was some way to dramatize what's happening. A storytelling vehicle that would allow us to show the average everyman or everywoman coming in contact with The Other. A sort of narrative analogue for the fears of today, but set in a time and place that only appears different from the here and now. By removing our filters, this fantastical art form would lay bare our prejudices and help us see we're more similar than we are different.

Damn, that would be awesome, wouldn't it? Is it possible?

Is it science fiction?



Copil is currently working on some YA sci-fi that, strangely, does NOT include Han-Chewbacca Erotica. His Twitter feed, on the other hand, is full of it (@Copil).




Thursday, February 27, 2014

February Comment of the Month Winner!

So many great answers again this month to our From the Vault questions. Thank you to everyone who participated in February! And now for our favorite comment...

We asked you: 
There's been a lot of talk about #UnderTheRadarYA on Twitter lately. 
What's your favorite under-hyped novel?

And BONNIE @ A BACKWARDS STORY said: 

"My favorite Under The Radar YA novel is ORDINARY MAGIC by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. It's fun for anyone who likes Harry Potter...but it's the opposite of HP. It's a world where EVERYONE is magical. There are different ranks of magic. The MC, Abby, comes from a really powerful family where everyone is super, extra duper on the high end of magical...and she has no magic. At all. She has to go to a special school to learn how to be ordinary in a magical world, and she's considered to be very dangerous (For example, magic doesn't work on her, so she could slip through security and rob a bank!).

The book is funny and a pleasure to read, and the family is so warm and loving. They remind me of the Weasley's in their capacity to love! I wish more people read this book so we'd get a sequel!!!"

I think a bunch of us will be heading over to Goodreads to add this to our TBR lists! 

Congrats, Bonnie! Just send us a quick email at yaconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com with your book choice from The Book Depository and your mailing info, and we'll get it sent off to you ASAP. Thanks again for taking part in our From the Vault Mondays!


Monday, February 24, 2014

From the Vault :: Social Media

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

Today's Question ~ Which social media media forum is your favorite, and what makes you like it so much?

Tracey - Twitter. I’ve met so many wonderful bookish and writerly friends there. I’m also hopelessly addicted to Pinterest, but less for the social media aspect of it and more because—oh look, pretty pictures!

Alison - INSTAGRAM!!! As my kids have gotten older, I’ve taken less and less pictures of them. (I know—BAD parent!) HOWEVER, when I got my iPhone over the summer, my fourteen year old forced me to get an Instagram, and now I take pictures all the time. I don’t post a lot, but I do enjoy capturing photos and sharing them, and I LOVE seeing my friend’s pictures and getting a glimpse as to what’s going on in their lives. Plus, it’s pretty easy. This technologically illiterate old chick needs easy.

Leigh - I'm best at Facebook--mostly because I've been there so long, I know more people there, and I'm comfortable with the platform. I love to blog, but now it seems all of my writing time needs to be used for writing books. Not as much waiting in the indie world; way more hustlin.

Matthew - Facebook. I'm too verbose for Twitter.

Katy – I love Twitter for its ease and succinctness, but I’m a huge Instagram junkie too. I’m such a visual person, and I love taking and editing photos, as well as following the streams of friends, family, and fellow writers.

Alexandra - Well, today is my birthday! On my birthday I like Facebook, because Facebook tells everyone it's my birthday, so tons of people wish me happy birthday. On my 364 very merry unbirthdays, I like Tumblr.

Copil – For a while it was Twitter, but I have to admit, most of my free time these days is spent on Reddit. The YAWriters, Books, and Writing sub-reddits are full of links from all over the web. It's a great community. Not quite as intimate as Twitter, or as targeted to my specific tastes, but in some ways that's a good thing to get me out of my own echo chamber.

Sarah - Facebook for me. Most of my friends are on there, so it's just what I'm used to.

Jaime - Right now my favourite is Instagram. I sometimes get bogged down by all of the writing/publishing talk, so it’s nice to escape to a social media forum that is full of other life things. Show me pictures of your yummy food, your kid bawling for no good reason, even a Scrivener screencap with what you’re working on. I kind of love it because life is all of those things.

Erica - Twitter - I can converse with several people all at the same time, without them being too involved. Also, I can see a lot of different things going on at the same time.

CZ - Concerning social media forums, it's Reddit. From the subreddits within it, I currently have a liking to /r/YAwriters/r/hiphopheads, and /r/polandball. The last one might appeal to those who likes humorous takes on politics, history, and other international shenanigans.

Big happy birthday to our lovely Alexandra!  

And now it's your turn: Which social media forum is your favorite? 

Friday, February 21, 2014

TEEN FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE

Our TEEN FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE is a feature here at YA Confidential that lets you get feedback on your manuscript from your target audience: real teen readers. This month's brave volunteer is Corey Wright, and here is the first page from Corey’s YA contemporary WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE.

Fate is having a laugh right now. The side-splitting kind, too. All buckled over and holding his stomach together. Wherever he is in the universe, he’s watching me, pacing outside Mr. Montgomery’s photography lab, and it’s like Christmas come early.

My phone pings somewhere in the depths of my backpack and I root around for it. Selah. Her eighth text in ten minutes: u don’t have to do this.

Maybe she’s right, but I’m running out of options. And time.

The lab door swings open and two students walk out. Nick Teller and Riley Sommers. They see me and stop. They look about as surprised to see me standing here as Selah was when I told her about my after school plans. It goes without saying that it’s not the good kind of surprised, either.

“Caroline.” Nick glances at the slow-closing door, then back at me. “You lost?”

My lips twitch, half-amused, half-annoyed. “I’m looking for Akiyama. Is he inside?” I already know the answer. Of course he’s inside.
 
Riley catches the door and pulls it open again. She smiles. “In the back.”

A couple students look up from their work when I walk inside and it’s not two seconds before a hiss of whispers sweeps the room. It’s hard not to react, to not roll my eyes and sigh, but I manage and make my way through the maze of tables.

Walking back feels a bit like I’m in The Godfather. Some grunt crashing the wedding at Vito Corleone’s because I’ve got a favor to ask. Except instead of this menacing mafia kingpin, I get this hipster kid in his suspenders and horn-rimmed glasses, face constantly hidden behind a camera.

For the record, I don’t hate Luke Akiyama. People tend to think I do given everything that’s happened, but I don’t hate him.

I just really, really don’t like him.

Here’s what our teens had to say…

MADISON: I really liked this author's voice. I feel like a lot of the main character's personality came through in very little time, which is excellent. I just wish we could have more of the narrator's feelings to make us relate and/or care about her a bit more. It sounds a little detached, I think. Throw in some of the senses, or maybe what's running through her head or any sense of dread she's getting from seeing this kid that she hates again. 

There were a few punctuation and grammatical errors, mostly in comma-overuse, that made things a little confusing near the beginning. But that could be easily fixed, and was probably only prominent to me because I'm a huge grammar Nazi. 

I think I would change that last line to something a bit more dramatic instead of more about how Caroline doesn't like the guy. Maybe throw in a vague reference to why she hates him- not enough to spoil the mystery for the reader, but just enough to spark a little more. 

Overall I like the premise for the story. I would like to read more, definitely. I think the author's characterization is almost completely on-point. This looks like something I would pick up at a library and devour overnight. Nice job!!  

RIV: Wow. This hooked me from the first line, and kept me until the end. I would definitely read more. It jumps us right into the action, only providing back-story as it's needed, and holding the reader's attention. All the names were a bit overwhelming, to the extent that the only name I remembered after reading it once was Luke Akiyama (and the cultural disparity was a bit jarring on that name.) I also was thrown out of the story for a second at the beginning, when fate was referred to as a "he," which I don't hear often.

Overall, it was really good. Gripping. Intriguing. Attention-grabbing. Best of luck with it!

ERICA: I definitely am intrigued after this first page. I definitely would continue reading, if not only to figure out what the history between the main character and Luke Akiyama is. It wasn't the actual opening that hooked me, but rather what came after the first paragraph. That felt more real. 

REBECCA: My first question, is where's the rest? I would like more. I'm totally intrigued and now I want to find out what Caroline's favour is and why she doesn't like this Luke guy. I love the fact the author wrote Fate as a person and the pop culture reference. If I had to say what I didn't like, it would probably be the text. I'm a teenager and I do it sometimes myself but I hate abbreviating words, like from 'you' to 'u'. It enhances the book and characters realistic teenage voice which is what matters though! 

LEXIE: To be honest, I don't have a whole lot to criticize about this.  I really, really enjoyed it.  It was nice and intriguing without being so mysterious that I felt like I was already in over my head, and the writing was really smooth and enjoyable.  I can already sort of sense your main character's voice, which is awesome--the writing has personality.  I don't have any idea what this is about or where it's going, but I'd definitely be interested in reading on.

Hope this helps! And I hope this feedback is insightful for our readers as well! HUGE thank yous to our SPIES and ANALYSTS and to Corey! I know how scary it can be to put your work out there. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!
 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Should YA Books Do?

Back when I wrote my very first book Dragonfly, I was just having fun. I wanted to write a steamy, entertaining romance with a touch of mystery. Nothing too heavy. Something that would fit in nicely on the CW...

But I needed help.

I was a journalist and former English teacher, so I was kind-of feeling my way through novel writing. As a result, I started blogging, communicating with other writers, reading about craft, following YA specific blogs like this one.

Then I read a post by someone--I can't remember who--that argued YA books should always have a message, some life lesson.

The writer posited that young adults are at a critical stage in their development, where they're forming their world views and establishing their belief systems.

According to this person, it was our duty as novelists to give them meaningful stories to help them in this process.

(Note: I've never liked being told my duty. John Edwards tried that and lost me. Then he cheated on his wife.)

Still, even though I wasn't a hundred percent onboard with this person, it struck a nerve with me. I guess it was the English teacher coming out.

So I put the Dragonfly series aside and wrote the Truth books.

The year was 2009, kids, and the issue was gay teens being beaten. Some of you might remember Matthew Shephard and what happened to him in 1998. Well, ten years later that shit was still happening. This time it was Scotty Joe Weaver, and it happened in a town just 20 minutes from my home.

The Truth About Faking is a romantic comedy, so I didn't go dark. But I tried to do what this blogger advised. I tried to mix a few drops of medicine with the sugar.

Lately, it seems the message in many YA books is about rape and/or abuse of female teens by their boyfriends. It kind of bugs me because this message is being explored at the same time we're seeing an explosion in books romanticizing abuse of women by male boyfriends or lovers.

The question of what message female acceptance of such stories is sending our young men is what inspired a particular scene in The Truth About Letting Go...

But here is not where I take a position on that issue.

Instead, I'm wondering what you think YA books should do. Should they always have a message? Or like the Dragonfly series, should they be pure entertainment?

Is it possible to write a story that doesn't contain a message of some variety?

On a related note, what's the message needing to be sent now?

A friend of mine said she wanted to see more books about interracial relationships. I've been watching Scandal, and I've got many thoughts on that topic. Who knows, maybe another Truth book is percolating in my brain after all.

I'll sign off and let you respond. As I used to tell my students, always know why you believe what you believe--never just accept. Ask questions until you have the answers you need. The message of this post. *wink*

Have a super week, reader-friends! Stay cool~

Monday, February 17, 2014

From the Vault :: Writerly Advice

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)


Today's Question ~ What’s the best bit of writerly advice you’ve ever received?


Tracey - I can’t remember the exact quote, but in my less eloquent words it goes something like this: Don’t compare your first draft to someone else’s published book. 

Jaime - It’s not writerly advice exactly, more like life advice, but this always gives me a boost: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill… I think we can all agree that this is relevant to writers both published and unpublished.

Matthew - Read, write, critique. Do as much of all 3 as you can.

Alison - Anne Lamott’s (Bird by Bird) advice on “shitty first drafts”: “The first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up.”
She has a lot of other awesome words of writer wisdom, but this advice was particularly validating and comforting.  

Sarah - Ever?? Wow. I guess pretty much just keep writing. Because your writing will get better even if you're not trying to grow, and because the habit of writing becomes a lot easier the more you do it.

Alexandra - You can’t be a writer if you don't read.

Katy – Hemingway said: Write drunk; edit sober, which is pretty awesome. I also try to keep Joseph Chilton Pearce’s to live a creative life, we must first lose our fear of being wrong in the back of my mind anytime I’m writing or revising.

Copil - Heard something from Chuck Palahniak recently that I liked. He suggests not using thought verbs (knows, understands, thinks, believes) for six months, and instead using sensory details (action, taste, smell, sound, and feeling) to describe what it is your characters believe. It's a variation on "show, don't tell" that makes sense, even if it's really challenging.

Leigh - Don't throw anything away. In this case, that translates to "don't delete it!" You might write a whole day and be convinced it's nothing but garbage. Save that garbage in a special folder. You never know what diamonds are hidden in the rough. (And it might not be that bad once you sleep on it, Loaf.)

Erica - Get to the end. It doesn't matter what it looks like, just get to the end.

CZ - The best way to break procrastination is to just start writing. When I sit down and write a sentence, I rarely write just one sentence. It'll often expand into a few paragraphs, and then possibly pages.

Your turn! What’s the best writerly advice you’ve ever received?


Friday, February 14, 2014

TEEN ROUNDTABLE: Romance, Regrets, and overall Riveting conversation :)


For our February roundtable, we wanted to do a little something romance oriented. So, we centered the discussion around one of my favorite YA couples: Ron and Hermione and the recent Wonderland article (click here to read it!) about them. But before we get to the heart (pun intended J) of the chat, we’ll catch you up on our favorite shows...

Sarah: catching up on some Teen Wolf. love that show hard
Tracey: I've seen maybe three episodes of it, Sarah, and loved Stiles. Can it be all about him instead of the lopsided-faced star?
Sarah: omg stiles is ahmazing. This week's episode was ALL Stiles and there were so many boy tears
Tracey: I might start watching it again just for him.
Sarah: you should. he just keeps getting better and better. I'm really looking forward to Dylan O'Brien in Maze Runner
Tracey: Me too! I even saw that other movie with him that kinda sucked but I watched it because he's adorable
Alison: I wish I could contribute to the Teen Wolf conversation, but lame Alison doesn't even watch TV. I watched the first movie. With Michael J Fox. #oldperson
Katy: Yeah, I've never seen Teen Wolf either.
Alison: I keep saying I'm going to use netflix to catch up on Lost and FNL
Katy: Aaah! FNL! I'm totally obsessed! I just started watching. I'm through Season 1 and I LOVE IT.
Tracey: I only watch on Netflix now. I have no patience for commercials or waits between weeks.
Sarah: Alison, yeah you should def catch up on Lost. We DVR everything so we can fast forward thru commercials. Live tv is for chumps
Tracey: I second the Lost marathon. One of my favorite TV shows ever. That and Fringe.
Sarah: oh god, FRINGE!!
Tracey: Sarah, you're like my soul sister. I know it's the show I'll re-watch over and over. I've put off FNL because that would be one big black hole of TV watching. It'd be hazardous to my health.

Alison: So, did everyone read the Wonderland blurb? About Ron and Hermione? Thoughts?
Sarah: i had a lot of thoughts. mostly about the nature of having "regrets" about something you've written. Or at least a major aspect of something you've written years later
Katy: I read it. First, Emma Watson looks gorgeous on that cover. Second, I wish they'd all shut it and let the story live in the minds of readers. But that's just me.
Sarah: but also, my first thought was, nothing has changed for me. Her regrets don't have any impact on the my reading experience
Katy: I feel like that too, Sarah. I think R&H are pretty perfect for each other.
Sarah: i just really don't understand how she can have a regret over such a major aspect of the novels. Like, that's huge, so to me, she had to have had doubts WHILE she was writing it, right? A huge regret like that can't just come up out of nowhere years later
Riv: My main feeling is this: Hermione is this super rad and super brilliant and super capable young woman/girl. Why are we turning the dude she marries into this huge thing? There are many many more important things to think about, and who she ends up with in no effects who she is as a character.
Katy: Bravo, Riv
Sarah: I guess, for me, i never questioned if Hermione should have ended up with Ron or Harry or whoever. I just read the books and was like "this is what happened"
Katy: Also, I really love that Hermione and Harry had a lovely, platonic relationship
Matt: There really two questions at play here. The first, and maybe? the easiest, is about Harry/Ron/Hermione. For me ... Ron and Hermione were written in the stars. They had such a beautiful, authentic teen relationship, and one of the most believable I have ever read.
Tracey: Agreed. I won't stop loving Ron + Hermione.
Matt: I think a big part of it was that Rowling had a unique opportunity to build them up over seven books, but I think another big part was that they had a chance to BUILD. A chance to get to know each other, and FALL in love
Sarah: while reading the books, i don't know if it ever really occurred to me that Hermione would be with someone other than Ron. especially once it was clear they were headed that way. Since it was a slow build at first. Because they were younger
Matt: What felt so real to me was that they were friends first, and then spent a long time being awkward, but still kind of in love, and then it worked out. I thought that was lovely in the long run. And yeah, a lot of books don't have the luxury of that much time, but who cares? Rowling did, and she made it work with class and heart.
Sarah: I do know i think i would have been disappointed if Harry and Hermione had been a thing. It would have been a bit too cliche for me or something
Katy: Yes, too expected
Tracey: I love Harry and Hermione's friendship, and I love that it was just a friendship
Rebecca: As someone who's only watched the first three movies and read 2.5 of the books, I don't really have an opinion on the subject. It was surprising to hear what the authors true feelings were but I feel like it shouldn't have realty been touched. It's done and dusted and considering the fan base, I think they were pretty happy with how it ended. Plus, yay for the lovely platonic friendship! Double plus, I'm looking forward to one day reading/watching Hermione and Ron get together. Considering how much they BICKER in the beginning, it should be very interesting and amusing.
Sarah: it is super adorable; though, i will say that i don't know that i ever really bought into Harry and Ginny. It seemed an extra stretch in the movies, too, just because there was no real chemistry between the actors
Katy: Yes, Harry and Ginny's scenes felt awkward. Especially in the books. Should've been Harry and Luna.
Rebecca: Harry and Ginny? Really? I didn't know about that. Ginny always was smitten with Harry though.
Alison: I personally LOVED R and H together - I felt it was very natural. I'm kind of like Sarah. The regrets thing threw me for a head spin.
Tracey: The problem is that these are real people to the fans, and it's hard to think about what could have been or might have been because that's not what *was.* We think of it like they lived and it all happened, because that's how you think about a really great story.

Matt: How do we feel about authors in general essentially retconning beloved franchisees in this way? I mean, I love Jo, to no end, and I would never second guess anything she does because she's a genius and the greatest kidlit author ever in my book, but I have to say...
Sarah: i think it's dumb, if i'm being honest
Matt: as a reader I don't really care for her getting this specific about a published work in an interview.
Sarah: yeah i have problems with it. Like, why you gettin' your hands all dirty like that?
Matt: as a writer? I get it, I do, but I don't know how necessary it is, or whether there's some publicity reason behind it, I'm sad to say. Because, again, such a huge regret. which to me means she had to have been thinking of it for awhile. Most likely while she was still writing it so she had time to "correct" it then. And if she didn't, then that's on her, and she should keep that to herself
Tracey: I think it's fine to regret it, but maybe just tell your close friends and family. As a reader, I don't want to know what an author regrets.
Matt: I mean, buy all mean, HAVE REGRET, that's the definition of story, but don't make it public, am I right?
Sarah: Or maybe, maaaaaybe if you want to bring it up at least give it another decade or two, you know? It's still pretty fresh for a lot of fans
Katy: The general consensus among authors seems to be that once the book is pubbed, it belongs to the readers. I wish JK would have stuck with that.
Matt: READERS = OWNERSHIP of STORY. Hell yes. That defines it for me, Katy.
Rebecca: What Katy said!
Tracey: It'd be one thing if it were an issue in the book that's often talked about. Like if Stephanie Meyer came out and said, "You know what, Edward watching Bella sleep *was* kinda creepy. I regret that." But it's hard for the readers when it's a relationship they love.
Rebecca: Once it's been written and published, it's done. I would hate it if an author wrote about having regrets and wishing something had gone a different way, if I loved the book and was happy with how it was. Or even if I didn't like how a book/series ended and it came put later the author regretted a relationship or how the love triangle turned out. Then I'd just be frustrated that it still turned out the way it did because it's been written and there's turning back. Let sleeping dogs lie, I say.
Tracey: Well said, Rebecca.
Matt: Or don't right the damn epilogue in the first place. Am I alone in that I would have loved Haryy Potter equally without it? Something left to the imagination and what not?
Katy: That epilogue... *shudder*
Sarah: yeah, i mean, if she didn't have that, then we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Or probably not
 
Matt: I think one huge issue that is often left out in the media is the scope of this series. I mean that shit had never been done, not like that, not in kidlit, not EVER. So I think Jo was left with a baby she had never dreamed of. As lovers of books, ALL of us are very lucky to have had her.
Sarah: How awesome is it that we have a series that starts as MG and then transitions to YA? Why isn't that more of a thing? I would love that to be more of a thing
Rebecca: Agreed! I'd love to read an MG-YA series. Quick, someone right one!
Sarah: Right? Like books and characters that age with their readers? For example, i always thought it was awesome that i was the same age as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We were in the same grade. We aged at the same rate
Rebecca: Yes! There's nothing better than getting to grow with characters. As they age up, you do too.

Matt: But what about HER? I mean authors are still poeple right? How about her attempt to go anon, and her publisher or whoever outing her? Is there a conversation worth having, maybe a sub-convo worth having, about her rights as an artist?
Tracey: I think she has a RIGHT to change her her mind and regret, sure. But I wish it had been one of those take-it-to-your-grave regrets.
Sarah: I think it's a difficult place to be in regards to the anon/publisher bit. Because, also, doesn't the pubber have the right to cash in on her name?
Matt: So agreed, Tracey. I would have loved if she never said anything, but since it's been said, should we converse about her right to say something? Personally, I'm against it in ways, and for it in others.
Sarah: Matt, i also think there's something to be said, too, about opening a conversation with your readers
Matt: Agreed. Like ... can it ever be done perfectly? Obvisouly not, but can it ever be done RIGHT? And with respect?
Sarah: So yes, keeping her mouth shut is one side. But by saying "i have regrets" maybe it also opens a conversation between the author and readers. I mean, it certainly opened a lot of conversations on the interwebs
Matt: Yep. But I still think that same question from Rowling would have meant more (or maybe less, LOL) in twenty years.
Sarah: but there definitely has to be some sort of balance there, and i have no idea what it is. Also, the ability to have conversations between readers and authors is, more or less, a new convention with the invention of the internet so a lot of this is new ground to tread for EVERYONE. So there are bound to be misteps along the way
Matt: And it's a good thing. I truly believe it is, but one has to be careful.
Sarah: honestly, though, i hope in my career, i never have such a huge regret in something i write
Katy: Same, Sarah. I'd keep it to myself if I did, though
Matt: I feel the same, but at the same time, I think Rowling deserves some ... leeway? For creating somehing so beyond what she ever expected
Sarah: that's a heavy burden to live with. And yes, i would also keep it to myself. Or wait until i'm elderly and just don't give a shit any more

Tracey: Oh! I just thought of a good example of an author who had regrets, talked about it, and it was amazing! Veronica Roth, after DIVERGENT published, publicly talked about regretting the scene where Tris is sexually assaulted because it was treated flippantly and it was basically a plot device. She was honest and open about it, and I respect her more for it. And I don't think it ruined the story, the characters or her world at all.
Katy: That's a great example, Tracey
Sarah: god, i completely forgot that Tris was sexually assaulted. And that is a great example
Katy: And I agree: VR handled that really well
Tracey: Here's her blog post about it: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/20...
Sarah: but, that to me makes sense. Like she's apologizing for taking the easy way out of a serious thing
Tracey: So I think authors can have regrets, and I think they can speak publicly about them. But whether they SHOULD seems to be a matter of what it is they regret. Now, if Veronica Roth comes out later and says she regrets the ending of ALLEGIANT...that might cause more of a stir...
Alison: Please don't spoil that one. I still haven't read ALLEGIANT.
Matt: LOL. I have heard the ending is controversial.
Alison: lalalalalala *plugs ears*
Tracey: No, my lips are sealed, Alison. That would be a sucky spoiler to spill.
Matt: I have yet to read that Trilogy, but don't worry, I don't get mad over spoilerish stuff, since I can usually see them coming. As for Divergent in general, I imagine it suffers from many of the same questions that Harry Potter suffered from, because major commercial success is going to harm artistic interpretation of any work, in any medium. Such has proven throughout history, and it can work for good as much as it can work for ill.
Sarah: i wonder if it depends on if/where the moral weight lies. Like, there really is no moral weight about who Hermione marries. But there's definitely a lot of moral weight in regards to rape culture
Matt: Moral weight and history is a great point, Sarah.
Sarah: so, like, regretting using rape culture as a just a plot point makes sense to me. Regretting which character hooked up with who, not the same thing. Or at least it seems to me, anyway
Katy: I agree, Sarah. Sexual assault is something that's genuinely upsetting to most people, particularly victims. R&H is silly in comparison. I get why VR felt the need to explain herself.
Tracey: I also think readers have very strong opinions when it comes to romance and very strong attachments to couples. More so than their attachment to a certain plot issue.

Um . . . apparently we didn’t end up talking about romance. Oops. Hope you enjoyed regardless. Thoughts on author regrets? Favorite romances? And Happy Valentine’s Day!



 
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