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Little Willow
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In Response to I'm Y.A., and I'm O.K. by Margo Rabb

In I'm Y.A., and I'm O.K., an article written for the New York Times, author and journalist Margo Rabb discusses the stigma of YA publishing with many other published authors, including Meg Rosoff, Sherman Alexie, and Curtis Sittenfeld, and shares her own experiences regarding the publication of her novel, Cures for Heartbreak. Margo asked me for my thoughts on the matter, so I thank her as well as Colleen from Chasing Ray for prompting this piece.

There are many adults who regularly drop by the YA shelves of bookstores and libraries, myself included. Some of these adults are booksellers, like me, while others are librarians, teachers, or parents - or simply readers who know a good book when they see one and pay more attention to good writing than age branding. While some bloggers and/or book reviewers are professionals who get paid for the time they spend reading and reviewing books, many book bloggers hold whose day jobs or dream jobs may not be related to novels or the publishing industry at all. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Readers come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

There are many teens who visit the YA section of the bookstore, then head on over to the adult fiction/literature section. While browsing through novels, teen readers might find themselves standing next to a married couple who share a love of Tolstoy, or a single woman in her thirties who would rather read a book about shapeshifters than a romance, or a grandfatherly type who used to be a schoolteacher. Just like the books they read, adults and teens crossover in the stores, pass by each other in the aisles, and share book recommendations or smiles because they - we - appreciate good books, and whether or not they are the same age, they share that interest. At home, a mother might recommend a book to her daughter that she just read or that she read ten years ago or that she read when she was her daughter's age.

Good books are timeless. Good books are ageless.

We adults who dare to read YA and juvenile fiction often read "grown-up" fiction too. Just because we read "kidlit" doesn't mean we haven't read Austen and Dickens. I've been reading "grown-up" fiction and classics since I was a kid, when I also gladly read everything in the kids department and the teens department. I knew then, as I know now, that there were books written for kids and books written about kids, and while some had the same audience, some definitely did not. I knew that some books had "adult situations" while others were simply labeled as adult fiction because they were published before stores and libraries had so many age and genre divisions and shelving guidelines.

Then and now, I had and still have no problem reading a YA novel and a classic novel back-to-back. I have been known to polish off a new YA book, then immediately pick up The Great Gatsby and re-read that, just as I can read a horror novel one day and a story about the loss of a spouse the next (different kinds of horror, those.) I'll read a classic Victorian comedy on Monday, a futuristic sci-fi YA story on Tuesday, and three modern plays on Wednesday.

My interests are varied, so my favorite books are varied, but one thing they all have in common: goodness. Good writing, good writers, good plotting, good characters (which does not always mean "good guys," but rather well-written and believable), good stories, good storytelling. I don't care whether stories were published for kids, teens, or adults, whether they were written two hundred years ago or two years ago, whether they were bestsellers or not, just as long as they are GOOD.

I know what I like. Anything I've ever liked through-and-through, I still like today. This is not only limited to books, but as this article is specifically pertaining to books, that's what I'll discuss now. I adored Alice as soon as met her, even before she set foot in Wonderland. I thought (and still think) the world of Nick Carraway. I joyfully and (tearfully) followed the stories of Anne Shirley and of Turtle Wexler. I still think Tinker Bell is cooler than Peter Pan.

I've been a writer and storyteller since day one. I always knew I'd write novels for different ages, for all ages. I knew I wanted to write teen fiction long before I actually a teenager. I never thought teen fiction was less important than adult fiction - nor more important than juvenile fiction, for that matter. I never thought classics were more important than contemporary works, just different.

When I finally get a full-length book published, I will be proud to see it on the shelves. I'll be happy when I have published different works in adult fiction, teen fiction, and juvenile fiction, as well as plays, and maybe even non-fiction. I hope that my stories will be found, shared, and enjoyed. When an adult tells me that she or he has read my YA novel, I'll smile.
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