Hey everyone hope you are all weathering the winter blast that has hit a majority of the Nation. I have been hunkered down for the last two days in my easy chair reading up a storm.
Today, however, I am happy to welcome Sean Beaudoin author of You Killed Wesley Payne, a noir/mystery novel that while dark is also humorous and certainly brings an original voice to the YA audience. Sean graciously agreed to stop by and talk about writing for the YA audience and the Noir genre.
I think a noir mystery/crime novel for teenagers is really no different than one marketed for adults. At least that's the way I approached You Killed Wesley Payne. Of course, some of the violence and sexual content might be toned down. Or it might not. My impression in general is that a book that panders to a younger audience is a book that ends up not having much of a spine. I hope the books I've written have been challenging to the teens that have read them, mostly because those were exactly the kind of books I wanted to read when I was sixteen. Of course, back then, YA didn't really exist. There was no online branding, specific bookstore shelving practices, or row after row of lurid covers. We made it through elementary school without a single precocious wizard to help transition into high school’s chaste vampiric longings. There were a handful of titles, like The Outsiders and Go Ask Alice that were known to be specifically for teens, but if you go back and read those books now, they’re pulling very few punches. Flowers In the Attic and The World According to Garp and The Basketball Diaries were all books that were sort of being handed around on the "black market" at school. We knew they would be confiscated if discovered, so we highlighted the salacious pages and giggled knowingly over them during study hall.
I feel very lucky to be writing YA in 2011. The audiences are incredibly smart and sophisticated. Tastes are eclectic and passionate. Noir can battle zombies, either on the page or at the register. YA is like the wild west--even though the breakout YA western doesn’t yet exist--in that everyone’s a gunslinger, pretty much writing about whatever they want. The limitations of the last few decades, in publisher’s imaginations and reader’s choices, have completely disappeared.
So I like having my back against the saloon wall, twin revolvers in my hands, plenty of bullets just a laptop away. It’s up to me to come up with something excellent—either an impossible shot or an brilliant escape plan. Which is exactly the way I wanted it way back in junior year, when I looked up from a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, busy understanding only half of it (gleefully so) and said “Hey, man-I want to be a writer!”
Thanks Sean for stopping by Eating YA Books.