As an author, probably the biggest recent change in publishing is the proliferation of YA book blogs. The power of review has been taken from the same few in the newspapers, and given to the diverse many. I have some misgivings about this: sometimes the quality of the reviewing can be questionable, but no more than than in teacher-librarian journals, and if your book is panned, instead of the comfort of knowing the review being tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, it’s there forever (if you Google The Push, you will find the one outright damning review it got, but not the more praising print-based ones). But the positives far outweigh the negatives: we hear the opinion of new and different people, available to anyone who is interested. I’ll post as many blogs as I can in my links: do let me know if I’ve missed you.
Because I’d missed the blogging boat with my first few novels, I was particularly delighted to get an email from Megs at Literary Life, who wanted to interview me about my first ever novel, Obsession. It was very interesting reflecting on my writing journey from there to here.
The other effect of blogs is that there is a widespread critique of aspects of YA literature that will make for a more robust and vibrant literary community. Take, for example, the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Older Readers shortlist and notables list this year, which I have avoided commenting on directly for obvious reasons, and less obvious ones: I don’t want to be seen to disrespect the work those who are mentioned, for one. But the points that others (like Lili, Kirsty, Adele, and Judith) make about the perennial paucity of female protagonists and writers on the CBCA older readers shortlist bear repeating here. Given that the judging panel almost invariably consists of older women, the only conclusion that I can come to is that there is unconscious, internalised sexism taking place, where judges take on dominant views about women, girls, and writing, and reproduce them in the kinds of choices they make about what constitutes quality YA writing. This is not a criticism of individual judges: it’s the result of groupthink, to use a hideous but apt word, and it is borne out year after year.
Very happy for anyone to prove me wrong.