It's a misconception that Young Adult writing is a watered-down version of literary fiction. We spoke to author Eli Glasman ahead of his Winter School workshop to find out why he loves YA and what adult fiction has to learn from its younger counterpart.
Why do you write for young adults?
Truth is, I started writing just to write and was told that it was Young Adult. So, the decision was very organic for me. I love the intensity of relationships that can occur when we're teenagers. I also love character development. I like taking the character on a journey through a novel and having them learn lessons (as cheesy as that sounds), and I find that this is far more authentic with teenage characters.
What are some of the most common misconceptions people have about young adult literature?
That it waters down its subject matter. This definitely isn't the truth. YA novels tackle some pretty intense stuff, often with sensitivity and intelligence, but most of all honesty. I also hear a lot that YA novels lack literary merit - that writers won't attempt to add anything new to literature, because they are afraid of alienating their teenage readership. This again isn't true. Many YA novels are written with gutsy prose.
How do you keep in touch with your inner teen?
I don't think we ever lose touch. It's more a matter of taking the time to remember what it was like to be a teenager - revisiting some old favourite hang outs, reading some old journals if you have them, talking with friends about old times. I find that I remember a lot more about being a teenager than I ever thought I would. A lot of the memories also come back during the writing itself, which is always a fulfilling experience.
What could adult literature learn from young adult literature?
Humour! Not just dry, ironic wit. Some decent jokes always help a story. YA books are often funnier, even when they're tackling heavy subject matter.
The Australian YA scene is arguably among the world’s best. What Australian authors should aspiring young adult writers be reading right now?
My staple answer is always Sonya Hartnett. A couple of great new-ish Australian YA authors are Will Kostakis and Gabrielle Tozer.