Thursday, June 18, 2009

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

I love asking questions on Twitter (where I tend to focus on "professional" subjects) and Facebook (seems better suited for the personal stuff). Here are a few I've posed lately, in case you want to weigh in:
  • Booksellers, tell me the truth. How tough is it to sell a YA novel with a nonwhite protagonist? If your answer is "quite," any exceptions?

  • Why do sci-fi or fantasy authors import our society's current mores about sex and romance into their imagined worlds lock, stock, and barrel?

  • What can Google Wave offer our Kid/YA book community?

  • I'm compiling a list of great father-son children's and YA books. Recommendations?

  • When they meet me in person, my virtual friends inevitably exclaim, "Oh, you're actually tall!" Does this happen to anybody else?
Social media provides a great venue to get input on many subjects. As in real life, though, whether or not we get a straight answer depends on how we ask the question. Sometimes I get no response. A few questions lead to more in-depth thought and discussion. The last one above, for example, which at first I thought was frivolous, prompted several people to weigh in about physical stereotypes and race.

Through trial and error, I'm getting better at virtual conversations, and hoping that stimulating discussion, both online and in person, helps the gray matter survive.

14 comments:

nisha said...

I love your blog because it completely keeps me informed. Thanks for asking the questions that so many inquiring minds want to know! :-)

<3Nisha

Roger Sutton said...

I thought of you as shortish, too. How about that? (Someday we WILL meet!)

I was very surprised to learn today that Jada Pinkett Smith, who I think of as an Amazon, is five feet tall.

Color Online said...

I love your questions and have been thinking how to create the same kind of exchanges at Color Online. Like you, I'm always thinking how to create dialogue. I hope I'm getting better at how I engaged readers.

Janet O'Connor said...

What great questions! They stimilate some good positive thoughts and discussions. I want to hear what answers you will get for the first question.

proseandkahn said...

Great fathers and sons: I took that to mean good relationships. I came up with a few, then checked by website and found that most of the books I read have absent fathers or terrible fathers.

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck
Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon - sort of Dad wants to be there and do the right thing, but obnoxious son is, well obnoxious.
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
Dishes by Rich Wallace - again sort of. Kid goes to spend summer to get to know absent dad and realizes that he's just a big overgrown kid, but they both grow.

susan said...

Loved Whale Talk and Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.

Dopesick by Walter Dean Myers
The Watsons' Go To Birmingham & Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Unwind by Neal Shusterman

susan said...

I took question to mean great titles for sons and fathers to read and discuss. Is that what you wanted?

Doret said...

I find it easier to sell YA novels with non white protagonist to customers I already have a buyer/ seller relationship with.

Some father/son books
Alvin Ho by Look
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Tan
Chameleon by Smith
Marcelo in the Real World by Stork
Little Brother by Doctorow
Bird by Elliott
Chess Rumble by Neri
Mudville by Scaletta
Brooklyn Nine by Gratz
12 Brown Boys by Tyree
Sunrise over Fallujah by Myers
Dope Sick by Myers
Rock and the River by Magoon
The Prince of Fenway Park by Baggott
Knights of Hill Country by Tharp

Wendy said...

Onion John and It's Like This, Cat are both super old-school and probably a difficult sell, but have outstanding father/son content.

kristin cashore said...

Hmm. Mitali, why shouldn't fantasy/SF writers import our society's current mores about sex -- or anything else -- into their worlds? By definition, they're imagining new worlds. Mixing and matching (or creating out of thin air) political systems, religions, clothing styles, medicine, magic, etc., and mores of all kinds is part of the tradition of the genre, isn't it? That's the freedom that comes with creating your own new world.

Admittedly, it can get messy. My own fantasy world has a lot of medieval feel to it, but there's also no overarching organized religion. Yet, I am undoubtedly importing a million medieval-type things into the books that wouldn't have existed in medieval times if it hadn't been for medieval religion. (It also makes it hard for people to swear when no one is allowed to say, "Oh, hell!") It becomes a difficult balance, and the author just has to hope no one notices how often she's falling off...

Anyway, thanks for asking the question -- I've been thinking about it ever since I first saw you ask it. Thank you!

AliceB said...

Father/son books:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Brendan Buckeley's Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier -- it's more of a son/granpa book, but the relationship with Dad is a good one
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

AliceB said...

Uh. It's "Buckley." Sorry about the extra E.

Mordena said...

A really twisted version of father/son -- House of the Scorpion

holly cupala said...

Arguably, fantasy (one of the roots of which is utopian/dystopian literature) may have more freedom not only to import the social mores of the day, but to take them to the extreme and comment upon them with impunity - an example du jour being Hunger Games. The job of literature, on some level, is to raise public consciousness. Fantasy is an opportunity to do that more subversively.