Saturday, March 12
A thoughtful hour of panel discussion looked at how YA fiction is for everyone, not just “young adults” – and that one of the challenges of being a YA writer was the stipulation that you must not be boring. Other writers are allowed such indulgences, but the YA audience demands plot, story, narrative, movement.
There was talk of the absurdity of the recent (temporary) banning of Dawe’s book, Into The River. And other challenges that all three award-winning writers have faced.
Funke, in particular, was very deep in her approach – once again the familiar theme of art as escape, a way of making sense, a contribution, part of a conversation. She stated that it was always the children that asked the smartest questions, too often the adults have sat listening for half an hour and are focussed on how clever their own question is going to be, they just want to ask it, they don’t want an answer. This sums up 97% of Q&As as far as I’m concerned. And then, amid questions of writing process and choosing illustrators and similarly boring and unnecessary queries one of the youngest people in the room asked what Gardner’s popular Maggot Moon contained 100 chapters.
Funke declared it the best question from the session. Gardner explained that she wanted people to feel they were some way through the book instantly – could announce they’d read “five chapters” shortly after starting, could proudly beam that they’d read 100 chapters in a day.
This was a lovely session with three very smart and talented writers. It certainly encourages me to read more YA fiction.