Thursday, September 27, 2012

The only thing I have to say about J.K. Rowling’s new book

Shocked, shocked!
Some people seem shocked that an author who wrote books for children featuring:
  • murder,
  • methodical torture of various kinds,
  • genocidal maniacs,
  • ethnic cleansing,
  • slavery,
  • one hero haunted by the specter of his murdered parents,
  • another forced to purge herself from the memories of her own parents,
  • and another who loses his brother in a war,
  • and so on
is the same author who has now written a book “in which a teenager is raped by her mother’s heroin dealer, a man who may well be the father of the girl’s own three-year-old step-brother, although it’s hard to know for sure when the mum concerned is a prostitute.”

Some people are idiots.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Send me your YA manuscripts beginning Oct. 1.

Updated Below
I do NOT want books that:
  • “have series potential.” No. I’m serious. If you  really want to write lots of books about the world or the characters, give this one a miss. This includes trilogies, tetralogies, cycles, sages, etc.
  • are dystopian, post-apocalyptic, or otherwise posit  one of those catastrophic futures that are curiously good at breeding teenage heroes. (I kid because I love.)
  • have dragons. (I already have the only dragon book I’ll ever love.)
  • have anything to do with Hamlet.
  • exceed 100k words.
  • feature protagonists in college.
  • are strikingly similar to things I've already published.
Things I like:
  • Grit that shows breathtaking sparkly bits when the light hits it just so. I really  like this.
  • Very unusual people.
  • Very unpleasant people who are nonetheless irresistible.
  • Sex.
  • Awkwardness.
  • Awkward sex.
  • Adversarial relationships with objective reality.
  • Encountering unfamiliar mythologies.
  • Foreigners.
  • Doomed romance.
Things I require:
  • That you follow my submission guidelines.
  • That your cover letter be very brief and you not agonize over it for more than twenty minutes.
  • Your extreme patience. I’m slow. I often return to manuscripts several times before I make a decision.
Things you should continue to do after you submit:

  • Look for an agent.
  • Write more books.

I will not read anything sent before October 1 or after midnight on Halloween.

Thank you!

Opportunities for deeper explorations into my tastes (by no means necessary, but what the hell?):

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the subject of “…material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity.”

May I humbly submit that if you’re writing about teenagers and not thinking about porn, you’re missing something critical? I’m not saying porn must be present in your novel, but I am saying the influence of porn is manifold and manifest wherever teenagers, their sexual relationships, and their caretakers are present, and if you believe, as I do, that YA is at its best when it’s transforming and processing teenage experience into art, then porn is somewhere in your ingredient list (maybe in undetectable amounts; maybe handfuls).

I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, but honestly I don’t think I have anything to say on the subject that exceeds what you’ll hear in the first half hour or so of this conversation between the inimitable Dan Savage and the new-to-me-but-very-interesting Cindy Gallop, creator of It’s all interesting and contentious in the best sense, but particularly so around 5:00 in (porn as sex education and why this is a problem). The whole thing is interesting.

(And, in case you’re unfamiliar with Dan, he’s a sex advice columnist—and not a dainty one. He talks very frankly about sex. There is a lot of swearing. Pornographic tropes are discussed in detail—but, hey, they use the word “tropes” so it’s like college, right? You’ve been warned.)


I haven’t listened to Gallop’s TED talk, but I certainly will.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Let me help you

File:Hindenburg burning.jpg

Oh the demographic humanities. It’s authorial cognitive dissonance of biblical proportions!

The mind boggles.

Who will come to your aid? What is an author to do?

Nothing. If the demographics strike you down, you shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.