Growing Up: YA at BEA

Sure lots of adults (like us!) are reading YA, but are the stakes different when teens start reading adult books? And what about when their favorite authors write for both age groups?

We had lots of questions, which is why it's a good thing that we participated in the BEA panel, YA Authors Crossing Over, on the Midtown Stage at the Javits Center this Wednesday.

Authors Melissa Marr, Stephanie Kuehnert, Michele Jaffe, Jennifer Donnelly, Jeri Smith-Ready and RT Senior Editor Elissa Petruzzi

Historical author Jennifer Donnelly, whose The Tea Rose was nominated for a best historical fiction award in 2002 from RT, and whose October YA Revolution we can't wait to get our hands on, said she likes to write for young adults to "give them a look into this very complex world they are about to enter." And she writes for adults to "give them a way out."

For urban fantasy author Jeri Smith-Ready, her YA novel Shade (a hit around the RT office) moves at a faster pace. She and her editor made sure "every single sentence did double, triple duty" to keep her teen audience engaged.

Meanwhile Stephanie Kuehnert, whose edgy books have been shelved in both the teen and adult sections (our favorite is Ballads of Suburbia) strives to be true to her characters, the better to really reach out to her readers.

It's reaching out to those teen readers that can be tricky, as Melissa Marr noted, because pesky transportation issues can keep younger fans from attending book signings. At those types of events Marr, who's got an adult novel, Graveminder, out in 2011 that we are dying to check out, meets more of her adult fans, while her teen fans are more present online. To give teens a chance to meet lots of their favorite authors, Marr's organizing an awesome tour under the Smart Chicks Kick Ass banner (a title we couldn't agree with more!) with a group of some of our favorite authors this fall.

Michele Jaffe — whose adult mystery Bad Girl is a current obsession of ours, as was the rainbow nail polish she was sporting Wednesday — said that her YA books have "a lot more kissing" than her adult books, and that she describes everyone's outfits far more in detail. We can attest to that, we've read Jaffe's upcoming YA Rosebush, and we would also like to get our hands on some of those outfits.

And so the crossover continues.

-Elissa Petruzzi