Hello all! Any regular visitor to my blog knows that I have been working as a reader for Volume 3 of the Young Adult Literary Magazine, Sucker Literary. Since I’ve been blabbing your ear off about them for awhile now, I thought it was about time you got to meet them. Below, you will find a blog post from Hannah Goodman, founder of Sucker, and Kacey Vanderkarr, Sucker’s Social Media Director. Both are writers themselves, and both had very interesting answers to the question I posed to them – Why Young Adult? I hope you enjoy this guest visit and I hope you’ll be making Sucker Literary required reading in the future. You can find links to where you can find Sucker Literary at the end of this post.
Writers – take note! Sucker will reopen the doors for Volume 3 submissions. One day ONLY, August 1, 2013. Find the guidelines HERE.
HANNAH: So why do I write (and publish) YA?
I guess you could say, I’m still not over it.
Meaning, on some level, I’m still stuck at 15.
This is because my teenage years were filled to the brim with painfully humorous moments, more so than any other time in my life, and it is these moments that I find cathartic and fun (in a sick kind of way) to write about.
My first “real” kiss at the end of sixth grade to the song Lady In Red. . . the shock of it all, running home after the dance to my mother and asking, “Are you sure that’s how it’s supposed to go?”
Homecoming in 10th grade, finally get to dance with my crush, who seconds into Vision of Love proceeds to puke his guts out, missing my toes by just centimeters. Suffice it to say, we never spoke again.
Running for class president in ninth grade…against my then boyfriend… who won. . . then dumped me.
After gaining the freshmen fifteen (okay, it was more like thirty) one of my classmates, upon noticing my larger person, yelled down the crowded hallway, “Hey, Hannah? Why don’t you lose some weight? You used to be pretty.” EVERYONE TURNED AROUND. THE HALL GOT SILENT. I think I died a little bit that day.
I have PLENTY of things to inspire my YA writing. But the ÜBER PAINFUL parts of being a teenager, that’s what originally led me to write.
Way back when I published MSW in early 2004, I was interviewed by my hometown newspaper, and when asked the question where did idea for the novel come from, I causally referenced a “painful high school breakup”.
That was putting it mildly.
When I was 13, I had my first major love…it was all stars, Bob Marley and De La Soul, the beach, and love notes… and then within 6 months, it wasn’t. While we never were an official couple after our break up freshmen year, we had “something” (not really “dating”, per say) on and off for a bunch of years.
Most of it was awful…really awful.
Those years of being twisted up with that boy created a whole lot of pain that I would later become incredibly inspired by. What inspired me was that I didn’t understand myself in that relationship or the experiences that went along with it. So, I started, from the moment we initially broke up, to write stories in an attempt to make some sense out of what was happening.
The first draft of Maddie came when I was fifteen, and while that original version (still in a blue, five-subject notebook in some box in my basement) definitely was a rip-off from my real life, the current version of that and the other Maddie books are not. What I retained in the later version (the published one) of MSW was the real-life pain I felt back then, kept fresh in my mind for subsequent books, thanks to my highly detailed journals from high school.
I will admit that while I’m over high school, the actual humiliation and pain that occurred. . . well, does one ever really get over that? It exists in my memory like the pain of childbirth; People tell you that you’ll forget it, but the truth is— you don’t. How can I forget 36 hours of being stunned gun in the back over and over again? How can I forget the twisting and wrenching in my belly that went on days before the actual so-called real labor?
Take those 36 hours and expand them to 5 years. Take those labor pains and replace it with a certain on-again off-again relationship during high school, and there you have the pain that “birthed” some beautiful babies—my Maddie books.
Not only did this pain gift me Maddie and her stories, but it also provided a much needed cathartic release which lead me to understand who I was back then. This understanding has been instrumental in the work I do as a writer of teenage fiction, but also in my day job as a tutor and writing coach to high school students (or, as they refer to me, “the teenage whisperer”). This understanding has also allowed me to help other writers of YA fiction as I publish Sucker Literary. (portions of this were published on my personal blog Writerwoman. http://hannahrgoodman.blogspot.com/2012_04_22_archive.html)
Hannah Goodman, M.Ed, MFA, is a YA author represented by Erzsi Deàk of Hen&ink Literary Studio. Her YA novel, My Sister’s Wedding, won the first place award for The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, 2004, children’s book division. She published the follow-up, My Summer Vacation, in May 2006, which went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. The third Maddie book, Fear of Falling was released in the fall of 2009 and was praised by teachers and readers for tackling subjects like homophobia and coming out. Her newest endeavor is Sucker Literary, featuring undiscovered and new YA authors.
A former high school English teacher, she now owns her own small company, The Write Touch, offering a variety of tutoring and coaching services for clients of all ages. Hannah is a member of AWP and SCBWI as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and three cats: Lester, Maisey, and Judy.
KACEY: Young Adult literature holds a special place in my heart, and on my bookshelf, as it takes up about 75% of my shelves. I’m 27 years old, and I generally only read YA. Why? You ask. Why only YA?
When I open a young adult book, I have high expectations. Character driven stories, romance, hard lessons, scathing, witty dialogue, and a plot that will take me on a roller coaster ride.
By the end of the book, I want my heart to bleed. I want to be so involved in the character’s lives that I feel like we’re friends. I want to think about them after the book ends—I want their story to matter.
I think that YA lives in a world that is less inhibited than adult literature. The rules are more like suggestions, and anything goes. An agent once told me that there’s a home for any kind of writing, especially in YA, and I try to abide by that when I’m writing. I don’t want anyone to mistake this for carelessness, because that’s not what it is, but in YA you can take bigger risks, ask the taboo questions, and write without fear, because that’s what it’s like to be a young adult. It’s about gratification, which is what makes YA so much fun. And you never have to apologize—because in a world where anything goes, there is no wrong.
Now that we’ve established that there are no rules in the YA world, it’s easy to see why adults flock to young adult books. When they read, they become that character, and that character has FREEDOM. Isn’t that why anyone reads? To escape?
Adults read YA because they want a story. Something fantastic, something they aren’t going to experience in day-to-day interaction in the “real world.”
While the actual writing in a story is important, I think too much pressure is put on adult fiction writers. Those limitations don’t always apply to YA. It’s okay to break rules—in content, in word count. Things that are “out there” are praised, while things that are “all the same” are frowned at. YA is all about exploration (much like being a teenager).
People ask me all the time why I don’t write adult fiction. I just don’t care enough about adults to write it. I know that sounds terrible, but it’s true. I know how books affected me when I was a teenager—brave characters gave me courage to face my own challenges, exotic characters gave me perspective and culture, they taught me to hope, to love, and most importantly, to be myself. As an adult, I’m still learning all of these things, and I’m learning them from YA fiction, not adult fiction.
As Hannah said, we really don’t ever “get over” being an adolescent. Those horrors stick with us indefinitely. Reading and writing YA is one of the ways to deal with all the awful things we’re forced to carry with us.
I write YA because I have to—it’s the only thing I understand. I read YA because to me, there really isn’t anything else out there that’s worth reading.
Kacey Vanderkarr is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. Her debut novel, Antithesis, is available from Inkspell Publishing and her story, “How to Fall” will appear in Sucker Literary Volume 3. Kacey is president of the Flint Area Writers, Social Media Director for Sucker Literary and an editor for Urban Fey Press. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, crazy cats, and two bearded dragons. www.kaceyvanderkarr.com
Sucker Literary – Volume 2 Blurb
When Alex’s bandmates invite a girl to sing lead, a battle of the sexes becomes a battle over something unexpected. . . A girl tells her friend about hooking up with longtime crush Fred, but his kisses are not what makes that night in his car memorable. . . A therapy session with Doug might just make Jason go insane again. . . Wallflower Aubrey hooks up with Gordon after the cast party, which would be fine if he weren’t the most forbidden fruit of them all…Savannah certainly doesn’t sound like a convict’s name, so maybe hanging out with her isn’t all that dangerous. Miki is committed to getting over Dex, yet she can’t get him off her answering machine—or her doorstep. In between puffs of cigarettes and attempts to smear lipstick on her face, Allie’s grandmother dishes out advice that maybe Allie should take. . . And finally, what’s a girl to do with Satan as both her boss and father? Nine short stories pose the questions we obsess over whether we’re growing up or all grown up: Who should I love? Am I doing the right thing? Is there ever an end to heartbreak? In its second volume, SUCKER continues to showcase the very best emerging talent in young adult literature and give (some of) the answers to Life’s Big Questions along the way.
You can find Sucker at any of the links below: