OTW 10th Anniversary Chat

Transcript for OTW’s 10th Anniversary Chat with Tessa Gratton & Kate McNair

If you missed any of our posts or events celebrating our 10th anniversary, check out our announcement post. Below is the transcript for the chat held on September 30th which concludes our series of guest talks. We would like to thank all of our guests for their time and support which has made these events possible.

The transcript has been edited for arrivals and departures in the room, greetings from the audience, moderator instructions, and side conversations.


Kirsten: Hello and welcome! As advertised, the Organization for Transformative Works is running a series of chats during the month of September in celebration of our 10th anniversary. Today’s chat focuses on the Young Adult genre.

I’m your moderator, Kirsten Korona, and I’m a staffer with the OTW’s Communications committee. We have some prepared questions for guests and then we’ll be opening the floor to audience questions.

Today our guests are author Tessa Gratton and Young Adult Services librarian and YALSA board member, Kate McNair. You can check out their bios by following the links on our announcement post.

*Kate M.
Thanks for having us!

Kirsten:
Before we start I wanted to share a story that may amuse you all as much as it did us. When the OTW began planning for this month’s events, my fellow staffers Claudia Rebaza and Sarah Loch were reaching out to different people. Sarah contacted Tessa, and Claudia contacted the president of YALSA who directed her to Kate.

Two months later we were putting together the schedule and decided to pair Tessa and Kate so as to have a panel on YA literature. As we’re going back and forth to set the time, Kate tells us:

“I know Tessa! She lives about 45 minutes away from Kansas City in Lawrence Kansas and we have done several programs with her at the Library. What a small world!”

So clearly this panel was MEANT TO BE!

*Tessa
LOL the best kind of panel. Hello everyone!

*Kate M.
Totally!

Kirsten:
As this event is part of the OTW’s 10th anniversary celebration, we thought we’d get things started by asking you some questions about your last 10 years! First off, what do you like to look back on as your major achievement(s) since 2007?

*Tessa
I’ve written nine books since 2007—five of which are already published, and two more of which will be in 2018. That’s a lot of books in 10 years, and I hope I can keep up the momentum.

My debut novel was published in 2011 by Random House Children’s Books—it’s called BLOOD MAGIC.

I sold my first adult fantasy novel last year, and it comes out in March. THE QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR, a feminist fantasy retelling of King Lear. It sold to Tor, and Tor was the publisher I sent my very first novel to, when still in high school in 1999. It’s a dream come true, and a huge achievement—I hope people love the book.

Michelle A.
:O my friend has that book!

*Tessa
I hope they love it!

Oh, and I got married to my long-term girlfriend, which was an achievement in the sense that it finally was legal! Yay!

*Kate M.
Actually, this December I celebrate my 10 year anniversary at my library in Kansas! 10 years ago I was working two jobs and going to grad school…so any list of accomplishments would have to start with becoming gainfully employed! While at my library in Kansas I have managed several successful events: a series of wild and creative teen fashion shows, I am the managing editor of our teen literary arts magazine, elementia, I run an annual teen Anime Festival (year 7 is coming up in just a few weeks!), hosting author visits from Tessa Gratton, Ellen Hopkins, A.S King, Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang, John & Hank Green and more.

I am also very involved with a the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) which supports libraries, staff and teens with resources and programs like Teen Read Week, Teen Tech Week, Summer Learning grants and more. In my time with YALSA I have chaired the 2012 YALSA Symposium committee, planned multiple events and workshops at national conferences and I am currently serving on the YALSA Board of Directors.

And lastly, 10 years is a long time, so I have been fortunate enough to see some of the teens I work with at the Library become librarians themselves! One of the very first teens I met here in Kansas City just graduated from college and got a job in Oklahoma City at Metropolitan Public Library. That feels pretty darn good!

Raquel
Congratulations!

Jemmy M.
Ahhhh congrats!!

Kirsten:
Congratulations!

Robin D.
Congratz 🙂

Michelle A.
Congrats!! 😀

*Tessa
thank you!!!

Kirsten:
Secondly, what do you remember about fandom from back in 2007 — how connected were you at the time?

*Tessa
I had a LiveJournal account I was very active in, and participated in several fan groups, mostly dissecting books and movies, with very little fanfiction. I read it when I came across it, or if somebody sent me some, but rarely sought it out at that point. Mostly I was so focused on becoming a traditionally published author I read and wrote toward that goal 100% of the time. Fandom was strangely disconnected from that for me, in a way I’m not sure it could be now in 2017.

*Kate M.
This question takes me back! Oh so connected, and so so poor! Remember, I was in grad school at the time…And it seemed to me that having a fandom was pretty expensive. If you loved a TV show you had to pay $60-70 to have it on DVD…(Yes, I spent an amazing amount of my income on Buffy DVDs). If you loved anime (as I did) and you really wanted the good stuff, you had to get it from Japan at special stores (which, let’s be real, only existed on the coasts…not here in the midwest). But online culture had taken a firm root, which is how I got a lot of my fandom fix. I loved surfing the web for specialty fan sites (I wasn’t much for arguing on message boards, but I did love fanart and fanfic). I even made a few of my own.

Kirsten:
Very cool!

Gstudent21
Cool!

Claudia R.
Yes, the costs have really changed Kate

Kirsten:
What things have you been excited to see in recent years, either regarding fandom or work in your fields?

*Tessa
I’m very excited by the ease with which I can find exactly what I’m looking for in fanfic and fanart—tumblr was a gift from heaven re: fanart and lists of fics, though especially early on it was difficult to get people to tag artists. I had a semi-secret tumblr for a few years, separate from my professional author web presence, called OdinsBitch. (I was obsessed with gods of poetry, sacrifice, and war.)

*Kate M.
I love seeing how libraries have embraced fandom! Libraries are a natural home for fandoms, and I think in unintentional ways we always encouraged and supported fans…but more and more you see libraries unabashedly embracing fandom culture (partly because librarians like me, who are avid fans of pop culture, are entering the field). You see libraries holding their own cons, cosplay workshops, fanfic writing groups. No longer are we just the stern lecturers about how to properly cite research or why you should read the classics. We encourage people to come in and explore their fandoms and more importantly express their fandom at the Library.

Jemmy M.
“OdinsBitch” iconic

*Kate M.
One interesting trend that has come up in the last few years that I find particularly fascinating is the rise of YA novels written in popular fandom worlds. As I look at the shelf today we have Rebel Rising by Beth Revis (written in the world of Rogue One), Leah Bardugogh’s Wonderwoman: Warbringer, Kami Garcia is writing X Files prequels. Back in my day (lol) it used to be that when you were a kid (depending on what you liked) there might be some toys and picture books and chapter books in your fandom, adults had collectibles and other expensive fandom accouterments, but as a teen you didn’t really have much (unless you could find a t-shirt at HotTopic).

*Tessa
Yes, Kate! I’m so happy to see that in librries. And I love the amount of fandom criticism available, both professional and academic in nature (and scope), is thrilling. If people are writing theses about a thing, that thing is having a huge impact on society, and fandom has gotten there finally. I’m a sucker for pop culture feminism.

Thanks, Jemmy, I was pretty proud of that name

Kirsten:
Kate, I’m a little jealous of your libraries!

*Kate M.
You had to find the stories you wanted to hear about, your favorite stories on fanfic sites. Now, publishers are filling in the gap with teen specific media and merch. Fandom creators and owners are working hard to keep a continuum of media for all ages. Of course, some of this content was always there (fanfic for example) but now people are realizing they can license it and market it. It is interesting to see things that would have been called fanfic 10 years ago, have a huge marketing blitz behind them now.

I like to think of libraries as the OG home of fandoms
(before the internet there were libraries where you could come and geek out)

Deemah
True

*Tessa
In my professional field I’m especially excited about the openness with which we’re beginning to discuss intersections between traditional publishing and fandom, boundaries, and the need to re-center narratives on stories from marginalized writers and experiences, and the breakdown of colonial thought. It’s fraught, but it’s so necessary. I’ve seen so much of the best essays on the subjects some through fandom channels.

Gstudent21
I love actual libraries. I still read physical books

Kirsten:
I think we have had very different library experiences! Though I do want to state I love my library!

Sharon E.
Me too

*Kate M.
I agree Tessa! I feel like the fandom game has really been upped in the last 10 years.

Sharon E.
Sorry, I meant I still read physical books too. Guess I shoulve gone with a hi first

*Kate M.
Fans are getting involved and moving the conversations forward.

*Tessa
I definitely have to “defend” fandom less than I did 5 years ago.

Kirsten:
Definitely! It’s changed a lot since I’ve joined fandom, and the access is much easier now.

*Kate M.
(or forcing the conversations to be had in the first place)

*Tessa
YES, by either making known what they want, or by doing it themselves. And often a combination of those things, which makes the whole conversation so much more dynamic.

I don’t really read fanfic for books, unless it’s for one of my friends books and I want to see what’s out there. So it’s less for my own fandom, and more on behalf of peers

Deemah
I used to love physical books but because some of them are heavy, I can’t take them anywhere I want so I converted to phone versions.

Kirsten:
Ok! I think we are ready for the next question, but before we do, welcome newcomers!

*Tessa
(my own fandom meaning, my fan-self)

*Kate M.
Lol is it weird to read fanfic for a friend’s book?

Jemmy M.
fanfic has made me a much better writer; the community is so welcoming

Beth B.
I love how fandom does alot of fan theories.

Kirsten:
Tessa, what were some of your early experiences like when your work gained its own fans? And Kate, what were the early responses like when you began working with fandom-related library projects?

*Tessa
I think it’s usually pretty fun Kate! 😀

Robin D.
I love getting feedback from people. It helps motivate me so much 🙂

*Tessa
I will never forget the first fanart I received for Blood Magic, back before I could share it on tumblr. Fanart in general just makes me incredibly happy, whether I consider it “accurate” or not doesn’t even matter to me (unless it’s whitewashed…). Mood boards of my characters and books fascinate me.

Kirsten:
That must have made your day! I remember getting fanart for my first fic, I think I cried.

*Tessa
There was a tumblr dedicated to my United States of Asgard series for a while, full of conversations, recommendations, art and the like—it’s pretty quiet now, but the series has been finished since 2015. I always felt like I didn’t really belong there, but I also couldn’t stop chekcing it. I stayed away, occasionally reblogging things.

I think I laid down on the floor when I got that fanart, Kirsten.

Kirsten:
Oh wow!
I can imagine!

*Kate M.
I can still remember when (I think it was about 2008) we brought John and Hank Green when they were on a nerdfighter tour across the US. We knew it would be big, they had a huge online following and John’s books were perennially popular…but what I loved was that the fandom wasn’t just for books, it was for the people! We were flooded with nerdfighters who knew every song Hank had written, knew every insider joke from the vlog brothers videos, had T-shirts with llamas and nerdfighter hand signals. It was awesome!

We’ve hosted so many fandom related events at the library over the years and the thing that ties them all together is passion. The literal outpouring of love you feel at these events is amazing. We’ve hosted the PotterCast tour, Wizard rock band concerts, our anime festival, cosplay club, a Doctor Who convention, a summer of Bring Your Own Fandom creative events, tons and tons of author visits and more.

Kirsten:
That sounds incredible, Kate. Do you remember what your first event was like?

Semihoye
I just love that people on the fanfic sites are usually so thankful for everything that’s get written and are a very welcoming audience .

*Tessa
That is AMAZING Kate. I’ve always loved my library system, but WOW

*Kate M.
Insane! I was so worried about screwing something up and displeasing fans that I slaved over every detail.
That is one thing about hosting programs for fans is that you can’t get it wrong!

Claudia R.
So true, people notice every detail. On the other hand, they also love every detail!

*Kate M.
They do!

Celina R.
Fans are a very grateful bunch usually

*Tessa
lol that’s the opposite for authors. we can DEFINITELY get it wrong

Kirsten:
Good to know! People get so excited about the things they love, so often it’s nice for them to just see it.

*Kate M.
And I love that they (teens at least) are very welcoming to new fandom goers

Kirsten:
So the theme for today’s chat is the Young Adult Genre given the work you’ve done in that area. I’d like to ask each of you in what ways you think that YA is unique as a genre and what it is that appeals to you about it.

*Kate M.
What I love about working with teens is how deeply they fall into a fandom. It isn’t just a passing fancy for them. They fall fast and they fall hard. Their love is unapologetic and all consuming. I can remember what that felt like and I love listening to a teen who has just found their new fandom (whether they are telling me about their new obsession with Sarah J. Maas or how they just found Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix).

Semihoye
To Kirsten that’s true but I always assume it’s because we all want us to encourage to get better by being so critical over each other’s works, lol.

*Tessa
For a long time YA was the genre where you could do ANYTHING. Genre-bending, pushing the envelope re: sex and narrative, you could experiment—the only thing you had to have in the story was some kind of teenage experience. I do think that YA has specialized a bit more in the past five years, and its united by the Teen Experience—regardless of genre—and opening up in huge ways to marginalized teen experiences.

I love the intimacy and immediacy of YA. Most of it, especially the successful books, put the reader right into the heart (narratively and emotionally) of a character, and pull the reader along unstoppably until the last page. YA is the kind of genre where you can hope for and even expect to not want to put a book down until you finish. Not because they’re all action-oriented page-turners, but because you become that character, and invest in them in a way that isn’t always present in other genres.

Claudia R.
I envy the people finding Buffy for the first time, Kate

Celina R.
I agree with Claudia on that…

Deemah
Young adults are so emotional so most fictions targeted to them are usually emotionally intense.

*Kate M.
I love seeing how how different the new fan experience is from mine. They are of a generation now that can find fellow fans so much easier (on twitter, in the youtube comments, reblogged on Tumblr). For those of us 30 and older, finding your fellow fans meant chat rooms and discussion boards and geocities websites… Not only can they find each other, and feel that community of support, they can contact creators. Creators and writers are so much closer to them and seem more approachable.

Heck, the creators are becoming just as much part of the fandom as the original work (for instance, I loved Buffy and had no idea if the guy who created it had done any other work…today you can love Joss Whedon and follow all of his projects). I guess I don’t know if this is always a good thing as humans have their flaws and mob mentalities can tear down people faster than dial up would allow…but it is interesting to see the fan experience changing.

Kirsten:
Listening to why people love what they love is honestly why I joined the OTW. There is something about the excitement about others that makes me excited, too.

*Tessa
I agree Deemah–YA needs to be emotionally intense and immediate.

Kirsten
It definitely is, and it’s changed so quickly even in the last five years!

Robin D.
YA is definitely the most versatile genre IMO

*Kate M.
It also feels like YA fandom is becoming mainstream. Something marketable. Publishers are now hosting their own online communities for teen readers (I Read YA, Epic Reads, Riveted, Underlined, etc). They are creating content to draw readers in and create spaces for them to geek out about their favorite authors and books. I read articles about YA brands, marketing and content strategies and I am reminded this is a professional industry. They are in the unique position that their consumers are also fans (no one is a “fan” of their laundry detergent, Tide doesn’t have to worry about nurturing a fan community) and they are now thinking strategically about how they build those communities.

Robin D.
YA is definitely the most versatile genre IMO

Kirsten
And Tessa, I definitely know what you are talking about with YA grabbing you and pulling you until the last page. I have a stack of them by my bed, and I’m certainly not a teenager any more!

Aizaka
I agree with that view of it, Tessa. It’s fun to seemingly become the character.

Hanzozo
My favorite part of the YA genre is finding those hidden books that aren’t well known but have superb writing. One such is The Girl Who could fly

farah
What’s your opinion on young people putting up their work on ao3? Have you read any of it?

Kirsten
Kate, what drew you to working in your field? What was your background like?

*Kate M.
I love telling this story about how I came to be a librarian…because I believe it all leads back to sailor moon.

I grew up in a small(ish) town in Iowa (I say -ish because it is not small by Iowa standards, but for those of you in big cities it would have seemed tiny). I loved Sailor Moon…let me emphasize that, I LOVED Sailor Moon. It was broadcast on TV by DiC when I was a tween. I found out it was a comic (I loved Marvel comics too) and I became obsessed with finding the comics. I was lucky enough to have a comic shop in town (not that I could afford it, so I was the kid who hung out in the back and read all the books without buying them…sorry guys!). There was exactly one other person in my hometown who liked Sailor Moon, so of course we became best friends. But two people just wasn’t much of a community.

Robin D.
farah, fan questions will be held for later.

*Kate M.
And then the internet came to my house. And that little dial up connection changed my life. All of a sudden this comic from Japan was at my fingertips! I could find all sorts of websites about Sailor Moon and even more anime and manga. I devoured it all! I became almost as obsessed with these websites as I was with the series I was reading and watching. And soon I wanted to contribute to this community. I wrote my own, very bad, fanfic and went to make website to host the first few stories and fell in love with web design. Soon I was more interested in the web design part than I was in the fanfic (thank god, as I was very bad at writing fanfic). I started making websites about all my favorite series which lead me to all sorts of coding languages and information hierarchies. By that time I was working in my public library as a shelver…and they asked me to help them build a collection of manga and comics and I was hooked. I haven’t looked back since!

Since then I have branched out into more fandoms and my job involves so much more. But at the root of it all, I love watching a teen fall in love with a fandom and wondering where that enthusiasm will take them. Maybe they will begin 3D printing pieces for their adventuretime cosplay which will lead them into industrial engineering. Maybe their Justin Bieber fanfic will lead them to becoming an editor at one of the big publishing houses. Maybe the time they spend in the library checking out old movies for their love of cinematography will inspire them to become a librarian! Who knows!

*Tessa
That is basically a perfect story Kate.

Claudia R.
Ooh, what sort of 3D pieces have you seen, Kate?

Kirsten:
Kate, I think a lot of people here can relate! And like Tessa said, what a perfect story!
Have their been any fannish 3D pieces?

Deemah
Hanzozo I totally agree. Last year, I started to read fiction by unknown authers to find new gems.

*Kate M.
TONS! We print pokemon every day (people making their own pokemon and mashing up existing ones)

Kirsten
That is so cool!

*Kate M.
We have plenty of people printing jewelry for their cosplay or parts for swords, boots, etc

*Tessa
NEAT

*Kate M.
It is amazing, I wish that had been around when I had been cosplaying

Sophia
that’s really cool!

*Kate M.
We have a few sewing machines in our makerspace and people come in to sew costumes for cons.
It’s great!

Kirsten
What a great service to offer, and what a cool story!

Kirsten:
Tessa, when you planned to become an author, did you always want to write YA? Why or why not?

*Tessa
I always have been an SFF writer, and when I started seriously trying to publish I was writing adult SFF, especially high fantasy and urban fantasy. I read several YA books in 2005-7 that I LOVED and made me realize I was so close to writing teen books already (paranormal was HUGE then, thanks to Twilight). Alongside that, I left grad school bc I wanted to change the world and I knew that the books that transformed me the most were the ones I read as a teenager—even though mostly they were adult books. I thought if I could write books like the ones I loved as a teen (fantasies like Mercedes Lackey, Kate Elliott, Robin McKinley), that made me form my political self, AND I could do it in a genre designed for teens, it was like winning the lottery.

I’m moving into an adult-genre writing phase right now, but I have a new YA coming out next summer called STRANGE GRACE, about toxic masculinity, gender identity, and witches, and given how much I loved working on it, I suspect I’ll always circle back to YA every few years. I don’t want to stop!

Jemmy M.
that’s really cool!

Kirsten
I will definitely keep an eye out for it.

Celina R.
Very interested to see how you combine those 3 things Tessa!

*Kate M.
There is something about what you read when you are a teen, it sticks with you!

Claudia R.
It’s always great to see what has influenced a writer

Ioana
Same Celina!

Kirsten:
For both of you, what sorts of activity do you see teens and readers of YA fiction involved in, and are there any ways in which this is different from other fandom groups?

*Kate M.
I see a lot of traditional fandom expressions in YA readers: online communities, writing fanfics, making fanart, cosplay, listening to and creating podcasts, making videos and book trailers, buying stuff (so much more $ involved in fandoms these days than 10 years ago). I think YA fans get a lot more access to the creators of their fandom than other fans do. Lots of time publishers send authors out on book tour, to book stories and libraries and they get a chance to meet their favorite authors (most of the time for free). Fans of other media don’t always have that luxury (I still choke when I hear the prices you have to pay to get a picture with Stan Lee at a con and I am gainfully employed…I have no idea how teens can afford that). Maybe that is some attention bias, I work hard to provide teens and readers opportunities to meet authors and creators for free, so I feel pretty strongly about that.

*Tessa
Like Kate was mentioning earlier, the raw enthusiasm of teen readers consistently bowls me over. They tend to give themselves completely to something they love—and I remember doing that when I was a teen, too. Loving with all my parts. It’s harder to do that as an adult, though I think we’re lesser for it, when we lose touch with that ability. The sheer depth of emotional attachment a teen can form with a work of fiction is like, the definition of passion. That’s why there are so many books about teens who save the world—teens have the no-holds-barred passion to make that kind of power.

Jemmy M.
that’s a really interesting theory, I never thought of it that way!

Claudia R.
Yes, not too many chats with authors 20 years ago!

*Kate M.
Hmmm interesting point about finding that wholehearted passion more difficult to conjure in adults.

*Tessa
That’s a great point about access, Kate. I try to respond to everyone who says anythig to me on Twitter or tumblr (that isn’t abusive obvs), even just casual hellos or book recs or inspiration.

Celina R.
Does anyone think the populrity of YA has a lot to do with most teens’ need for some kind of escapism?

*Tessa
As an adult, I feel like I need escapism as much now as I did when I was a teen so I’m not sure. I’ll have to think about that.

Kirsten
I’ve definitely noticed that as well – we had a book fest at my library recently that was free, and included a meet and greet with a very popular YA author. That would not have been likely ten years ago!

Ioana
I think that’s a selling point for most books, regardless of genre.

Sloane
^^^^ ik i turn to ya lit when i really need to get sucked out of my life for a while

Kirsten
I definitely agree with Tessa, I need escapism as an adult just as much as I needed it as a teen!

*Kate M.
I think part of the desire for escapism isn’t literally to escape the world you live in but also to experience other stories and lives.

Kirsten:
Since we’re heading that way, we’re going to start accepting questions from everyone, now. Folks, please be respectful and try to take turns asking questions. This chat platform doesn’t allow you to see when other people are typing, so we know it can be tricky. We’ve got about 30 minutes, though, so there’s time to get them in.

Celina R.
I mean the allure of someone similar to you but special in some way is definitely a recurring feature in YAs

*Kate M.
It builds empathy and compassion and allows us to see the world without the baggage that we carry into our own experiences.

*Tessa
I do think that YA promises more immediate engagement than a lot of other genres. I expect readers of my adult book to work a little harder than my YA readers–just meaning, I might not put the hook on page 1 and spend more time building elaborate political systems in adult books. that doesn’t happen in YA. You can drop into it easier.

sheva h.
I love how story that we read as teenager could shape who we are in the future.I think those books has made me into a better person

Kirsten:
Tessa, would you say that’s what differentiates YA from adult lit?

*Kate M.
Totally Sheva!

antivigilante
That’s true Sheva

Kirsten:
I’m sorry, we have 90 minutes remaining!

*Tessa
I do think that immediacy is one of the most important differentiations, yes.

antivigilante
Uhhh question: does anyone feel YA is becoming pigeonholed? That publishers push subgenres that are popular for a cash grab rather than exploring new material?

*Tessa
Sheva, that’s the main reason I started writing YA. books I read as a teen changed my life, and I wanted to do that.

*Kate M.
Well to be sure, publishers have figured out there is money to be had in YA lit and it is business like any other.

*Tessa
All genres are like that. And YA even more than most–but it always has been. even though we’ve had teen books and kid lit for decades, the real moment for YA as the genre it is now started with Twilight–and the reason YA exploded was publishers freaked out about how munch money they could make, and they threw money EVERYWHERE

viole
yes, most YA books I open are pretty cookiecutter and lack diversity

*Tessa
you could experiment bc nobody knew what would be the Next Big Thing

Celina R.
But isn’t that money-making leading to YA becoming predictable? A lot of the stories

*Kate M.
And there are certainly books that are published because they will sell. But there are also smaller publishers who are looking for more experimental work and lifting it up.

Sloane
tessa, kate, i have a question for y’all about the trends of ya lit. how would y’all say lgbt rep in ya lit has evolved over the past ten or twenty years? how would you say it mirrors or differs from the growing rep in adult lit? do you think the range of representation of genders and sexuality in ya lit is going to keep growing? what do you think we can do to encourage the spread of queer characters in ya lit other than writing them ourselves and reading the books when they come out? please don’t feel obligated to answer all of this!!

antivigilante
That’s good to hear!

Robin D.
I’ve just started querying my sci-fi YA book, but everyone seems to be looking for the next big thing in LGBT or own voices.

antivigilante
That’s a good question

Kirsten
That’s exciting for you, Robin! Best of luck!

*Tessa
To be honest, Sloane, I think there are only 3 main things we can all do to promote and encourage the spread of queer books and queer authors. you menitoned two: write them ourselves and buy them when they come out… the third is DEMAND them. 😀

Seb
I agree.

antivigilante
I feel as if there’s a caution needed to writing lgbt as you want representation but I hate reading empty characters who are just checkmarks on diversity

*Kate M.
I don’t pay as much attention to adult publishing, but I can tell you that YA lit readers are advocates inside the industry.

*Tessa
I think in YA the rise of queer rep has followed the general rise in other media–started with middle class and upper class cis gay white boys, the closest to the cultural default. And slowly more and more IDs are showing up and being encouraged.

*Kate M.
Publishers are being pushed by demands from the audience, so like Tessa said, you have to demand them.

Robin D.
Thanks you, Kristen 🙂 It’s actually a part of my question for Tessa: What was your querying experience like? Got any tips aside from traditional querying?

antivigilante
Nice

*Tessa
empty characters and bad rep are just bad writing. i can’t remember who supposedly said this, but basically the idea is that 80% of everything is badly done.

Allie
Not a question specific to ya fic, but how do you think beginning authors can transition from writing fanfic/online fiction to more traditional publishing? Do publishers keep a look out for such fiction online for potential?

Celina R.
I think publishers might be hesitant about LGBT though. Especially in certain countries

Sapphite
On the topic of Divse LGBT representation, who has followed Melinda Lo on that front?

viole
lots or YA books are just trying to be a better Twilight (which really isn’t hard), and that’s where their standards end, which is disturbing

Kirsten
Hold on one minute Allie, Robin just asked a question, but we will get to yours next!

*Tessa
I really can’t speak to publishing in other countries. I’ve been published in 22 territories, but I basically have 0 engagement with those publishers or readers, because of langauge barriers and distance.

antivigilante
Do you guys ever hope to adapt ypur work as scripts for plays or TV/films?

Claire C.
I’m only just starting to get into Malinda Lo’s work, but I love what I’ve seen so far!

Empires
20% of everything done well isn’t a bad place to start from, I suppose…. but getting that number to rise is tricky

*Tessa
Allie I know SO MANY published writers who started out writing fanfic. So. Many. It’s a great way to develop story and voice. Some publishers have imprints that work directly with fanfic and self published works (Macmillan has one, Swoon Reads, I think?) and others don’t care AT ALL. A publisher wants to make money, so if you can show you have a platform of readers who’ll buy a book that might make a difference, but the real truth is that you have to practice how to write a novel–and novels are different in a lot of ways, narratively, from fanfiction. If you write a great novel and persist, that is the BEST way to get traditionally published.

Robin! I queried in an unusual way:

Claudia R.
Kate, do you see any new YA novels or series becoming more popular among your users?

antivigilante
I personally am more of a sketchartist so I hope to do comics but YA has taught me so much about pacing and plot and I’m grateful for such a great community of people to lean on too

Robin D.
How so, tessa?

*Tessa
I wrote a book, revised it, sent it to 12 agents, got a 75% request rate, then none of them wanted to rep me. so instead of sending to more agents, I wrote a new book. I sent that to 10 agents, got about 75% percent request again, but no bites. so I wrote ANOTHER book. That one I sent to 1 agent, because I knew after years of research and practice she was the agent for me. She agreed! She’s been my agent since 2009.

Razz
FYI: Sturgeon’s Law. “Ninety percent of everything is crud”. Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, “Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That’s because 90% of everything is crud.”

Kirsten
Can you explain what a 75% request rate means?

*Kate M.
Series are big in our library (Sarah J. Maas is a favorite). I think part of that has to do with knowing what to read next.

*Tessa
I did it that way because I wanted a CAREER, not just one book so I wanted an agent who could get me the kind of book deal I needed in order to start a 40 year career, who was respected and knew her stuff. I wasn’t interested in 50 agents… just that one.

Celina R.
So, trial and error?

Robin D.
Oh, wow. Haha, well I know I can at least WRITE a book. Thank you, Tessa 🙂

*Tessa
Kirsten: it means 75% of the agents I queried asked to read my full manuscript.

Kirsten
Thank you for clarifying!

Robin D.
Does request rate mean they requests your full ms but decided to pass it?

Allie
Tessa, what do you think are the greatest differences between writing a fanfic and a novel? Any tips on honing one’s writing?

*Tessa
I thnk the most important thing about querying is prioritizing what you’re looking for and then aiming for that goal.

yes, Robin.

Claudia R.
Kate, do you think that YA may be more generational than other genres and thus tastes or favorite authors change more quickly? Or are some things universal?

Robin D.
Thank you!!!

*Kate M.
Actually I wonder about that.

Really the generation of teens in the early 2000s was the first to have a wide variety of YA to read (rather than just be dominated by a few big names)

That was the big publishing boom for YA (late 90s early 2000s)

Kirsten:
For both of you – which books are you currently most excited to read, or what recently came out that you loved?

*Kate M.
So they are really not that far out of their teens now, and it has stayed a large and growing genre.

Robin D.
Sarah J. Maas actually started her YA fantasy series on FictionPress. Then it grew such a big audience, and she decided to try and publish it…which worked obvsly.

*Kate M.
So I think a lot of them are sticking with it and demanding more from their favorite authors. Which has lead to a fantastically deep catalog of YA books and more and more complex and well written work.

Kirsten:
Ha, I can definitely say most of us who read the YA of the late 90s and early 00s still follow our favorite writers an authors

*Tessa
Allie: WELL I don’t write fanfiction, only read it, so I can’t say from 100% experience. with a novel you have a relationship w your readers where you’re bringing EVERYTHING to the table because you’re starting a conversation from scratch. with fanfic, you’re diving into an ongoing conversation where different people already have different understandings of EVERYTHING. there are pros and cons to both, in terms of what you can and can’t promise readers

L
If we have written a novel and are considering looking into publishing what do you suggest in terms of a first jab at the market? I’ve revised and formatted, but as a teenager I lack confidence in the writing itself.

Kirsten:
Kate, what new books are you excited to read?

Celina R.
*Tessa: a lot of fanfic actually takes the characters and redevelops them in a completely different direction.

*Kate M.
I am anxiously awaiting Stephanie Perkins new book There’s Someone Inside Your House.

*Tessa
My current favorite YA reads are DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland and THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton. They both come out in early 2018. I haven’t read a lot of YA this year bc I’m working on my adult novels so I’ve been reading mostly adult SFF. I adore everything NK Jemison has ever written, and THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS by Karen Lord was my fave book of 2016.

*Kate M.
I love horror books this time of year!

Robin D.
Allie, I would suggest building an audience and then maybe try to somehow weave your own work into it so your readers, who already understand your writing style, can maybe become life long fans 🙂

Allie
Thanks for the answers!

Robin D.
Can anyone recommend a great horror/thriller YA book???
Or a few…

Rhiannon L.
What would you suggest to an aspiring novelist who’s been rejected by many different agents? Should I revise even more to mayb… I don’t know… adapt it /more/ for the YA genre? Or do you think I should keep at it with what I have already?

*Kate M.
I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga is a favorite!

Kirsten:
Those all sound great! I won’t lie, I’ve opened a tag and I’m putting all your book recs there so I can grab them later.

*Tessa
L: I recommend you write 2-3 books before you try to publish one, because practice is the best way to assure your first published novel is GOOD. Get feedback from other writers, the internet is great for that, and read and study literary analysis. If you aren’t confident in the writing, you will be slammed by reviews and critique, so you need to go in with at least a core confidence that you LOVE what you wrote.

*Kate M.
And FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy Mcginnis is awesome!

Celina R.
Question for both: How do you avoid turning your main characters into a cookie cutter “chosen one” or a Mary Sue?

Robin D.
YES KATE! FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is already on my list. Added I HUNT KILLERS 🙂

*Tessa
Rhiannon, I think you should write a new book. Writing another book will teach you more about writing your last book than unending revision.

Robin D.
THANKS!

*Tessa
You can ALWAYS come back to an old draft when you get new insight

Rhiannon L.
Thanks so much Tessa! I’ve already got some others in the works, so I’ll try to focus on those for now…

Seb
I am curious how has the portrayal of teenagers with disabilities changed over time in Young Adult novels? (Fyi, fandom was one of the first places I saw ongoing conversations about chronic illness, disability in general, or representation outside of really stereotyped narrow portrayals in media)

*Tessa
Celina: practice and reading. study how your favorite authors create characters, and do that with yours. on a line level, a story arc level.

*Kate M.
Hmmm Interesting question Celina. As I think about it, most of my favorite books are “chosen one” stories. I think at least part of it is making all the other characters complete people.

*Tessa
Seb: I’m sorry but I realy am not able to answer that. I’m aware of some of the conversations about disability rep in fantasy, with regards to world building, magical cures, and the like, but I don’t know the long term patterns at all. I DO see more and more conversation about it

Razz
How is your beta reader process when writing YA? Do you seek out younger beta readers, a mix of adult and YA, other YA writers or just whoever?

*Kate M.
Seb: I see more characters with illnesses and disabilities

*Kate M.
Leigh Bardugo is a great fantasy writer who you should check out!1

*Tessa
I have other writers as beta readers, different readers for different projects, and often seek out expert readers, depending on what i’m writing about.

Robin D.
Rhiannon, this the belated but I would suggest using Twitter’s #CP which stands for critique partner. What you do is make a pitch of your book and someone else who writes in the same genre might want to be a beta reader/critique partner. You guys share your chapters and read each other’s work, giving feedback. I have one, and she’s the best. You might have to go through quite a few to meet your ideal match, but it’s completely free and i highly recommend it if you need another opinion on your work!

*Kate M.
Have you ever had a teen beta reader Tessa? (for one of your teen books)

Kirsten:
Kate, what events do you have coming up at the library, and what would you suggest other libraries start doing?

*Kate M.
I think it would take a very unique teen reader to be able to give good feedback.

*Tessa
No, I haven’t. I don’t think it’s necessary. If I was writing a very specific teen experience I might consider it, but I haven’t been in that place.

*Kate M.
Next week, we are hosting author Julie Murphy (author of Dumplin, Side Effects May Vary, and Ramona Blue)

And in early November we are hosting a writing conference (mostly for adults) with more authors, poets, and editors.

*Tessa
I’ve had some readers who were ALMOST teenagers, in college, because of being targeted readers.

*Kate M.
We also have our teen anime festival coming up! I am super excited to try fandubs in our makerspace soundbooth!

Kirsten:
Those all sound incredible!

*Kate M.
(and yes, I have chosen several sailor moon clips to dub)

Razz
Ooh writing conference!

Celina R.
NaNoWriMo is coming up too!

Robin D.
Kate M. or Tessa: aside from horror/thriller, any mystery.thrillers in YA you’d suggest? Especially ones with high stakes and fast-pace narrative?

*Kate M.
Yup! We try to kick off nano with our writing conf

Razz
Thanks for the answers!

Celina R.
That’s awesome @Kate!

Gstudent21
Fun. It should be interesting.

Kirsten:
What a great start to the month, Kate!

*Kate M.
I just finished WHEN I’M THROUGH WITH YOU which was an awesome thriller/suspense

*Tessa
I can’t wait to see Julie!
Ahhh sorry! I lost my internet!!!

*Kate M.
by Stephanie Kuehn
I love how connected our KC area writing community is

Celina R.
KC?

*Kate M.
(Kansas City)

Celina R.
Ah

*Kate M.
We have lots of writers here (for kids, teens and adults)

Robin D.
Ugh, wish I lived near kc 🙁

Celina R.
Not from the US. No idea about short forms

Robin D.
btw thanks for the book suggestion Kate

Claudia R.
Definitely sounds like the place to move to if you want great library services!

*Kate M.
np robin! what else are librarians for!?

*Tessa
(I missed any questions that came in while my internet flipped out, if there were any. )

Kirsten:
Tessa, I don’t think you missed any.

*Tessa
Thanks.

Celina R.
By the way, people should check out the Orginal Work section in AO3 more. Not many people look through there, but there are some real gems

Razz
Does snappy dialogue have more limitations for YA – or another way to ask it, do you have to limit for reader understanding quite a bit?

*Tessa
I don’t think so. Teen readers are smart–just as smart as adult readers–so I don’t believe in holding back or “dumbing down” at all.

Teens can tell when they’re being pandered to

Robin D.
Kate, I’m trying to find mystery/thriller books regarding dark themes. In fact, I’m actually outlining a mystery/thriller book about a high schooler who’s father had been his mother’s abductor years ago but escaped police. Now he’s trying to find his father on his own after receiving an anonymous letter.

viole
Oh, AO3 has an original work section?

*Tessa
(though, I don’t really write extremely commercial books, so possibly a more commercial author might disagree)

Robin D.
This book suggestion question is open to everyone btw LOL

Kirsten:
It does, Viole! I don’t have the exact number, but there are tons of works!

Razz
That’s great! I do like when authors trust their audience’s understanding.

*Kate M.
Ask MT Anderson about pulling punches or simplifying dialogue…

*Tessa
LOL

*Kate M.
I have a masters degree and I have had to reread sections of his books to try and make sure I understand

Erika R.
Feed is one of my favorite YA novels

Kirsten:
I just want to know if Feed was written to Savage Garden’s first album…

viole
Kirsten: thanks ^^ I never have tried to look it up, it would be interesting to see how well frequented it is in contrast to the rest of the platform. I’ll make sure to check it out

Kirsten:
Kate, you’re a YALSA Board member. What do your responsibilities for that entail?

*Kate M.
Well my job as a board member is probably less than exciting to most (unless you like policy) but the work of YALSA is pretty awesome.

We host Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week and encourage libraries to program for teens during those times

We offer summer learning grants and coding classes resources for librarians

Gstudent21
I’m glad we got this chance to do this

*Kate M.
We are also the association that gives out awards for YA lit (like the Printz and the Morris)

Kirsten:
Is there a way people can encourage their libraries to run some of these programs?

*Kate M.
(the Printz is the lie Newbury for ya lit

Celina R.
Do you think there should be more international writing events? Especially for teens. There’s Nano, but that’s about it…

*Kate M.
Sure, tell your library about YALSA if they don’t already know! Most of our stuff is free online!

Jari
Lie newbury? What’s lie?

*Kate M.
*like

*Tessa
I think the more international events there are, the better, especially online things like Nano. I’m not sure what would work best, though.

*Kate M.
And it is the Newbery (i am typing all over the keyboard today)

I love the Nano young writers program

Erika R.
As a grad student, are there certain ways to get involved in YALSA?

Jari
Ah. Just thought it an unfamiliar abbreviation. Thanks!

*Kate M.
It allows teens to set their own goals, and encourages teachers to use Nano in the classroom

Razz
I know there are some smaller education based, writing festivals for teens as well, but they often aren’t highly advertised.

Celina R.
Workshops maybe? Camps, and places where people can co-write stuff? Having a partner to be accountable to helps.

Claudia R.
Kate, speaking of fast typing, do you think that demands on YA librarians are changing, becoming more intensive? You mentioned the coding classes — has the field changed a lot, and what sort of skills might people need to go into it?

*Kate M.
Oh yeah, working in a library is totally different than when I started 10 years ago. It no longer is just about the “love of books” but you have to love learning (because you are going to have to do a lot of it).

I have learned to 3D print, scan, CNC, laser engrave, play ukulele and more for my job!

Kirsten:
So out of those, which is your favorite?

*Kate M.
LASERS!
Laser engraving is the BEST! You can make anything!

DaughteroftheSilverMoon
Lasers are definitely fun!

Robin D.
I’ve gotta go. But I really appreciate all the feedback. Thank you everyone. Especially Kate, Tessa, and Kirsten for your knowledge support!!! 🙂

*Tessa
Thanks for joining us Robin!

Kirsten:
Thank you for coming, Robin!

Claudia R.
Ukelele playing is not something I would have expected. Is there a story to that?

*Kate M.
Thanks Robin!

Razz
Kate-of-all-trades lol. That’s an awesome list.

Celina R.
Why on earth would playing ukelel have anything to do with YAlol?

*Kate M.
You never know! We did a Taylor Swift uke workshop for teens.
So learned to play the ukulele…

DaughteroftheSilverMoon
As a fellow librarian, I agree with Kate. You pick up the oddest skills…

Kirsten
That sounds very difficult, but also like lot of fun. How did the idea come up?

Setzer
Would you say the shift from

*Kate M.
Teens asked for it (I think there was a rise in popularity for the uke on youtube)
All of our programming is driven by community needs

Celina R.
Yup. There was an ukelele phse of sorts
*phase

Kirsten
And you were game! How cool. I am even more jealous of your patrons.

*Tessa
That’s so above and beyond Kate, I love it.

*Kate M.
Tessa, how has the job of being an author changed over the last 10 years?

sheva h.
woah that must be difficukt.

*Tessa
It’s hard for me to parse how the job itself has changed and how I’ve changed/my career has changed. LOL.

There is a lot of self promo, but there was 10 years ago, too. the internet has put a lot of pressure on authors to BE the main promotion for their books. publishers prioritize their money of course, and most of it goes to the authors ALREADY making money

Claudia R.
Is there a lot of traveling involved?

*Tessa
I know what I can and can’t control better than when I started out, and I know how to say no, and that I CAN say no-even to my publisher. The expectations are different for debuts now–there’s almost an assumption of no midlist. either you debut on the NYT list or you die! which is not true, but I think it feels that way more now than in 2011 when I debuted

there’s only travel involved if you can afford it. almost no authors get publisher money for travel and tours

Razz
Would you say self promotion is learnable in a short period of time, or do you have to spend a lot of time mastering it?

viole
How do you self promote? Is it something that comes easy to you or do you find it difficult/a hassle?

*Tessa
I’m a Bad Author and I don’t do much self promo. I don’t do pre order campaigns or design character cards, I don’t have swag or giveaways. I just write books and talk about important things on twitter, and try to be interesting.

I think the best way to sell your book is to write a new, better book

Some authors enjoy promo or are naturals at it, and they can drum up more excitement than me. but that said, only publisher money can really make a big difference in how well a book does.

Claudia R.
And it sounds like there’s less and less of that being invested

Razz
Lol Tessa this could count as self promotion, since your visible to everyone reading this chat.

*Tessa
oh this DEFINITELY counts as promo. 😀

*Kate M.
How about the author community? How has that changed over 10 years? Has the rise of the internet lead to tighter bonds?

It seems like authors I talk to are very connected to other authors (especially those who debut the same year they do)

Kirsten:
I’ve got to run, but Claudia Rebaza will be taking over modding responsibilities! We have opened the floor to audience questions.

*Tessa
the internet has hugely changed the kidlit community–in some ways there are tighter bonds, and in other ways it’s pulling apart. in 2009 when I sold my debut there was a big emphasis on debut author groups, where we could talk about our anxieties and questions and find support, and that has shifted to more emphasis on debut promotion groups, and then with the rise of discussions about marginalized stories and authors, the internet has become a hugely important place for demanding accountability from authors and publishers, which is HARD but also very great and important.

Thanks Kirsten!

We also have a lot of festivals and cons now that we didn’t have 10 years ago, so we can meet in person and make connections that way so there’s a lot of layers.

Razz
Kate that’s really interesting, I wonder if it’s partly that the world is smaller with instant communication these days.

Gstudent21
I have been to conventions before, but the cons i go to are anime related

*Tessa
I’ve never been to an anime con!

s
Ok wow. I only just found out about the existence of this chat. But ‘Tessa Gratton’ definitely rang a bell. So instead of sitting still pondering, I looked your name up to find that you are the author of Blood Magic, a book I read quite a few years back. (I’m in a bit of a shock now)

Celina R.
I don’t go to any. Aren’t many where I live

*Kate M.
Tessa, we have to fix that!

*Tessa
Yep, that was my debut novel , s

*Kate M.
Tessa, do you have any sense if the adult lit market is any different?
(as you get ready to publish your first adult book)

Claudia R.
Tessa, speaking of author circles, I read an interview with an Australian YA author recently and she discussed fanfic she used to write. She stated that she didn’t know any other authors in her circles who hadn’t done so. Do you think that’s more common now or that people are more open about it?

s
Wow. Funny how I was thinking of the book a couple hours back

Erika R.
great question

Razz
Yaoi-con is quite fun if you’re looking for suggestions

*Tessa
the adult market is VERY different–the community is less cohesive in general, I think–it’s older and so there are factions that have been around longer than I’ve been alive. also the politics are more scaled up and less about what we need to pass on to the next generation. In kidlit we always have to keep in mind our audience of teens, WHY we’re writing and what we’re fighting for… in adult the conversation can get more bogged down in history and breaking traditions.

the difference between kidlit cons/festivals and adult SFF cons is practically immeasurable

I think it’s definitely more common now, Claudia,

Taylor s.
Why do you think its so hard to find ya books that are truely diverse?

*Kate M.
And authors are getting back into it! remember S.E. Hinton of the Outsiders fame?

alienchangeling
Does that have to do more with the demographics of the audience and authors than the books,though?

*Kate M.
She writes fanfic now

Celina R.
But aren’t there books that toe the line between adult and YA?

*Tessa
I know a lot of authors who’ve never really written fanfic (myself included), but more and more authors are coming to publishing from fanfiction AND the stigma against it is nearly nonexistant now.

*Kate M.
I agree alienchangeling

Debut authors from this generation have grown up in that culture, and so are just more likely to have written a fanfic.

Sarah J.
Tessa, I’m looking at your website in another window and noticed that you co-authored the “Curiosities” anthologies with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff. Did you debut the same year as they did? Also, how did you come up with the idea for themerryfates.com? I think it’s terrific and creative and very modern.

*Kate M.
I also meet a lot of teens who practice the craft with fanfic before jumping to writing their own novel.

Mae
Isn’t there a published book that’s basically hunger games fanfiction?
Called like The Pretties or something like that?

*Tessa
Taylor S: because Western publishing is part of the structure of white supremacist colonial patriarchy, and until very recently anything outside of that experience wasn’t considered “legitimate”

alienchangeling
SFF fandom unfortunately has a lot of people in it who have a chip on their shoulders when it comes to what they think of as the “good old days.”

*Tessa
Celnia, there are TONS of books that are “crossover” books (adult and YA) but the culture of the communities is very different, and YA treats adult authors differently than other YA authors, and Adult can be VERY condescending to anybody who’s written YA

Zigadenus
*Tessa, can you unpack how YA treats adult authors? I’ve only been aware of the opposite side of that dialogue (or lack thereof), and would be curious to hear your impressions.

Razz
The phrase, ‘white supremacist colonial patriarchy’ is vecoming part of my vocab as of now.

*Tessa
Sarah J: Maggie and Brenna and I were crit partners in 2008, we started working together before Maggie’s debut was published . Then Brenna in 2010, then me in 2011. we started Merry Fates to practice writing–the idea was if we published online a short story every week, at the end of the year we’d probably be better writers. 😀

viole
That sounds strange, it’s like YA and adult are two separate phases of life, where in reality there should be a slow transistion?

*Tessa
Razz: it’s unfortunately a very useful thing to have to say these days :/

Erika R.
Do you think the fact that YA lit is now more openly read by adults will cause a decrease in that condescension?

Mae
What books would you recommend for aspiring YA authors?

Sarah J.
Wow, I didn’t realize fanfiction had become so mainstream! Is there an expectation that the “fanfic” author will approach the “original” author and ask for permission before publishing the story?

Celina R.
Erika R: Is it really?

alienchangeling
That condescension isn’t unique to adult authors looking down on YA authors, though: litfic authors look down on genre authors, other people look down on female authors and fiction aimed at women, etc.

*Tessa
Zigadenus: there have been a lot of examples of adult writers being told by an agent or editor they should write a YA bc “that’s where the money is” and so those authors just make their characters teens and never read YA or treat the genre with respect. so there’s some suspicion when an adult author moves suddenly to YA.
sometimes it’s a natural thing–I love a lot of authors who write both YA and adult, and do myself, obviously!

Celina R.
alienchangeling:

Razz
Tess, agreed. Although on a community by community basis, its becoming less necessary, hopefully.

Celina R.
I agree

*Tessa
There’s so much cross-over between YA and adult, it IS getting better.

Claudia R.
Kate, do you find that the need for more direct author promotion for materials is strengthening ties between writers and libraries?

Erika R.
Celina R: I think so. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by having adults I know ask for recommendations (I teach children’s and YA lit). Also, the amount of adults reading YA lit that’s been adapted onto the screen.

alienchangeling
One of the sad things about the fiction community. It’s toxic, and I try to avoid it as much as possible, and the books written by people who do the condescending.

*Kate M.
Oh I think so Claudia, I also see Libraries taking their role as part of the economy of literature more seriously.

Taylor s.
Whats the best advice you have ever viven/recived?

Mae
What’s your opinion on representation in YA books?

*Kate M.
When funding is good, we need to help keep our author community healthy by paying for appearances
hosting events
supporting creators

alienchangeling
Oh, and of course, authors of original fiction looking down on fanfic authors :).

*Kate M.
(sadly funding isn’t always flowing…)

*Tessa
Mae: publishers and authors need to actively make space for marginalized creators, editors and agents from marginalized backgrounds. that’s the only way to make representation better over all. We have to shift the structure to be more open and welcoming. which is a constant fight.

Claudia R.
Speaking as a former librarian, I’m not sure I’ve ever known a time when it was! The move to the Internet created a huge new crimp in library resources, even as it opened up so much to the public

viole
Do you think the writing quality suffers from the values shifting from writing a good book to marketing and being internet-popular with their work? There’s only so much one single person can do, and the writer has to focus on one or the other.

Sarah J.
Tessa, Kate, and anyone else more familiar with the publishing world than I am: do you believe that adult fic authors’ condescension toward YA fic authors will phase out over the next generation or so, due to both the increased crossover and modern ideas of inclusiveness work their way through authors’ ranks?

*Tessa
I think that if an author lets themselves take too much time away from the creation, then yes, quality will fall. you have to give the time to the thing that matters most: the text. but it’s hard, bc if nobody reads the text, then did it really matter in the first place?

Jo
Would authors care more about writing for the audience? Or should they care more about writing for themselves?

GoldenFalls
How do you decide whether to market something as YA or adult fiction?

*Kate M.
Sarah J. I wonder about that myself, as teens from the 90s and 00s grow up and become the economic drivers, how will publishing shift?

*Tessa
Sarah: I really hope so! I suspect new issues will arise, since older generations always have a beef or three with younger generations. and when some things go mainstream, other niches become the targets of that condescension.

*Kate M.
I could see that decreasing any stigmas about writing ya lit

alienchangeling
One thing I’ve noticed: it’s *way* easier to find YA books about lesbian/bisexual women than adult books for the same in libraries. I’m curious if anyone has noticed the same elsewhere, or if it’s unique to where I’ve lived.

*Kate M.
GoldenFalls: it is my understanding that is often up to the publisher. Not sure about how you make the decision in self-publishing (and maybe selfpub allows for more nuance).

*Tessa
Jo: It has to be a balance. You have to love what you write, and for that you have to write for yourself, but if you aren’t writing for an audience at all… why publish? why get into the game? Why suffer through criticism. Publishing (any kind, trad, sp, fanfic) is a conversation. it’s a back and forth. You need yourself AND audience for that to work.

Jo
alienchangeling: I feel like there is the same problem in my local library as well.

*Kate M.
Interesting question alienchangeling! I must admit I stick to the YA section of my library.

*Tessa
GoldenFalls: I agree with Kate, it’s primarily a publisher decision, though hopefullly your agent will have a good idea.

alienchangeling
I’ve probably read more YA than I otherwise might have simply for that reason.

*Kate M.
I am not sure that I have seen adult publishers having the same conversations about diversity and own stories as kids and YA.

Celina R.
Maybe because adults are a bit more conservative? At least in my experience

Jo
I feel like YA books come under more heavy fire, which could be why there is more diversity in those types of books

*Kate M.
Tessa, I don’t know if you have a better awareness about that happening in the adult market?

*Tessa
it’s happening in adult SFF–it was forced to happen when the Hugo awards process was taken over by the Puppies, and there was Racefail like 9 years ago (which has its own wikipedia page) so those conversations ARE happening at least in Adult SFF, and publishers are involved. It’s less on Twitter, in particular I think.

GoldenFalls
How much research do you typically do for your books?

*Tessa
the public is more interested in talking about how YA fails or doesn’t fail children, bc our society is very concerned with “think about the children” which is complicated–often bad when it comes to trying to ban queer books, often good when it makes people stand up and say we must have better representation for children.

Sarah J.
Also, I’ve recently discovered the world of interactive fiction, which reminds me of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I was so fond of checking out from my local library when I was a child, but at the same time is so much more rich and complex and character-driven. Tessa, do you have any experience with that world, whether as an author or as a reader? If so, is it another niche that tends to earn condescension from other authors?

Jo
Have to go, thanks for the interesting conversation. Bye.

*Tessa
GoldenFalls, I research a book anywhere from 6 months to once about 7 years. It depends on the project and what I’m doing. I always have piles of research books.

*Kate M.
(as a reader I will say this is what makes Tessa’s books so rich!)

*Tessa
(thanks Kate!!!)

*Kate M.
(I am not sure that everyone puts in that much work to their novels, but it shows!)

*Tessa
(:D 😀 :D)

*Kate M.
Sarah J. I love to see all the new ways we are experimenting with telling stories

*Tessa
Sarah J: I have read some interactive fiction, but I haven’t worked on it.

Celina R.
Speaking of interactive fiction, is anyone here familiar with visual novels?

*Kate M.
I get a lot of requests for choose your own adventure still…so it is staying popular!

GoldenFalls
Are you a cat person or a dog person? 😛

viole
Celina R. Yes.

*Tessa
I am part of a new publishing experiment called Serial Box Publishing and it’s mostly adult, based on TV writing and viewing. So every story is a season long, with 12-13 “episodes” that a team of writers writes. you subscribe, and once a week a new episode pops onto your phone/inbox.

that’s the most interactive thing I’m part of, but it’s not really interactive fiction like choose your own adventure.

*Kate M.
Yes! I love serials! I am so happy to see them making a comeback.

alienchangeling
I am! Sadly, most of them don’t run on Linux.

*Tessa
(my “show” is Tremontaine, which is queer genderbent three musketeers based on Ellen Kushner’s Riverside series)

*Kate M.
How is it different from writing a novel that can be consumed from beginning to end in one sitting?

Sarah J.
Also, I’m thrilled to see serial novels popping up again! That publishing method has always intrigued me – and it is, after all, one used by authors such as Charles Dickens and Alexandre Dumas to write their own novels. I’ve begun writing several multi-chapter fanfics here on AO3, which is the closest I’ve come to using that method myself. Tessa, how does the serial publishing process you’ve been using on “Tremontaine” differ from your “usual” writing experience?

Celina R.
A lot do work, though. They’re a pretty brilliant way of storytelling

*Tessa
I am a cat person, though I also have a dog I love.

*Kate M.
OMG How am I not reading this Tessa!?!?!

Zigadenus
*Kate M., *Tessa: My question here is a little long; please excuse how long it takes me to get around to it. To begin, if we agree that one of the major ways that fanfiction (and to some extent other fanworks) differs from mainstream YA and adult SFF is the degree of inclusion of sexual content, and the diversity of gender roles and character representation outside of heteronormative constructs, is it fair to consider fanfic etc. as something occupying a similar cultural space as works produced in the early days of SFF, which can best be described as male-dominated sexual fantasy (I am thinking of a particularly noxious publication that PZ Myers brought up on Pharyngula last night)? If we can make that correspondence — that fanfic encompasses some of the incipient stages of a bona fide literary movement, in this case of underrepresented and minority writers (much as YA is doing on the published/professional side!), where do you see the future of fanfic going? Do you think it will persist and grow in acceptance as a distinct genre of works, or do you think fanfic authors are essentially a first-step in the road to traditional/original writing? So, actually, that was several questions — sorry, and thanks!

Sarah J.
And now I see Kate has has beaten me to the question. 🙂 Kate, I’m so glad to hear that the “choose your own adventure” genre is still alive and well!

*Tessa
The serial process is different primarily because it’s collaborative. I have to work with a team, so I can’t just sit in my cave and work and revise. LOTS of peope involved.

SadieDuke
I Love Adventures Maybe Some time i Should read Kates Books!

*Tessa
It also is modeled after TV writing, with story boarding and plotting out season arcs, and other very interesting things

I don’t outline much

KATE–I can get you access to Tremontaine bc librarian, email me!

SadieDuke
Oh.. I never knew that.. Okay..

alienchangeling
Zigadenus, I just went over to Pharyngula and, ugh.

Zigadenus
alienchangeling: the “good old days”, eh?

*Kate M.
Zigadenus: interesting question! I am not sure where fanfiction is headed next.

Celina R.
OTW should have more of these public discussions…

Claudia R.
(Kate and Tessa, just giving you a chance to address that last question)

*Kate M.
I haven’t thought about it before, so I’ll have to marinate in that one

Sarah J.
Celina R.: Yes, definitely! I only wish I’d caught onto this particular one earlier…can’t wait to read the transcript!

GoldenFalls
A really cool form of choose your own adventure is the quests section on forum sites like Sufficient Velocity and Spacebattles. They’re stories where there’s typically one author and then other people vote on what actions the characters take and collaborate on wright-in plans, then the author writes those plans and what happens.

*Kate M.
Tess mentioned earlier that people are getting discovered from their fanfic and online following.

and I think that will continue

Sarah J.
GoldenFalls: Amazing! I’ll have to check it out!

*Kate M.
I have heard stories about fanfic writers being brought in to write comics series after original creators have left.

alienchangeling
I play around with fanfic mainly because I already have a full-time job and can’t realistically commit to finishing long works.

Claudia R.
Ok then, on behalf of the OTW, I also want to extend a big thanks to Tessa and Kate for spending time here with us today. This has been a really interesting and informative chat!

*Kate M.
And now people are getting book deals to write for marvel and disney. so who knows!

Thanks Claudia!

Claire C.
Thank you so much for the chat today!

alienchangeling
Thanks!

viole
thanks!

Zigadenus
Thanks!

*Tessa
Thanks for having us! This was fun–and fast moving! LOL

Sarah J.
Yes, thank you so much!

moi
Thanks!

sheva h.
thanks!

Celina R.
Thanks!

Sel H.
Thanks!

GoldenFalls
Thanks!!

*Tessa
I’m easy to find for talking about this kind of thing on my tumblr or twitter too. tessagratton.tumblr.com and @tessagratton

*Kate M.
Thanks to everyone for coming and asking great questions

Claudia R.
Goodbye everyone, thanks for coming!

*Tessa
SEE I CAN DO SELF PROMO 😀