Thursday, 19 April 2012
It's Ty! In Venice! What is he doing there?
No, this is not a sneak peek at the plot of Another Life. It's an Italian YA book spotted by my eagle-eyed editor Emily Sharratt at the recent Bologna Children's Book Fair.
It's called The Descent of Light and according to this blog post, it's a kind of Dan Brown meets the Mayans, SF/timeshift epic romance, set in Italy and Mexico.
I whipped the blog post into Google Translate and this is what I got:
'The Descent of Light that, as adults, although it is YA literature, intrigues me most, is now known of the Mayan prophecy about the end of the world in 2012. The places where the story takes place is full of charm and mystery of Venice, the Tuscan hills, the ruins of Mexico. The characters by which we follow are Jude and Viola.In Venice comes a wonderful guy. Jude was instructed by his father to find a Maya text, that can save humanity from the provisions of the awful apocalyptic prophecy. During the searches in the Library of Archaeology Jude knows Viola, a student who has a bond with their dramatic Mayan code that the guy is trying.The meeting of two born a love, not wanted, but overwhelming, that will survive the events that occur at some point and that will take them in Tuscany and then back in Mexico. Events that they will meet / collide with characters who, like them, are seeking the all-important code.But the story is not simple as it might seem. It is not just a search, friends, enemies, loves, tragedies and ancient vendettas. There is an element that gives the story a different perspective. Why Jude is not simply a nice guy as a god by Jude is far, far away. It comes from another world, that of SO-CALLED Bright ... (with all the implications, in my opinion, this can result in the past history of the human race and its Gods ... But I'm just assuming ...). Enjoy!
Wow! I am especially thrilled that Ty is called Jude, because that is my son's name. And it is great to see him in another guise. He looks suitable moody and I think they've made his eyes very blue.
It's not surprising to find the same picture popping up on a different book, because the photo was sourced from a big photo library. I wonder if the original model knows about Ty and Jude. And I wonder what other uses have been made of his image. Someone once told me that'd seen Ty on a poster warning of STDs. I've never been able to find it, and I'm happy that way.
Monday, 2 April 2012
It crystallised a feeling that quite a few of us had, that American books for teens get a lot more attention than British ones, even in the UK. We go into bookshops and see special displays of imported YA books from the US. We see publicists for UK publishers promoting the latest transatlantic buy-in. And we suspect that YA is almost defined by that Mean Girls/Twilight High School feel, the proms, the basketball games, the road trips, so that reading about British kids doing GCSEs and watching EastEnders somehow feels all wrong.
Now, there's nothing wrong with American YA books, and indeed it is we British teen authors who enthusiastically rush to buy, read and praise writers like John Green. Meg Cabot and Maureen Johnson.
But then I stumbled across a group on Goodreads where American readers were asking for recommendations of British teen books, and coming up with little more than Harry Potter. And I kept on reading American YA books set in Britain, which came across as inauthentic as those awful episodes of Friends set in London. Or British characters in American YA books who sounded as British as Dick Van Dyke. And then I saw an internet query from an American family planning to travel to London with a teenager. Which books should they read to get them in the mood? Suggestions ranged from Oliver Twist to Swallows and Amazons. Oh and Harry Potter got a mention.
Well, there is more to UK YA than Harry Potter. To prove the point (and hopefully provide something on the internet for anyone in the world looking for authentically British books) we have set up a new blog, which should be a showcase for the best of British teen fiction. You can find it here and I hope you'll follow, share and generally shout about it.
When I say we, the very wonderful Keris Stainton and Susie Day have done all the hard work (Hurray!). We'd love to get more blog posts, recommendations and comments. Please do get in touch if you'd like to be involved.
There have been moments when I've worried that our site is a bit Little Englandy - too parochial, too inwards looking and a bit unfriendly towards foreigners. But that's not the aim. We just want to celebrate the great fiction being written in Britain (not just by Brits either. Some of our best UKYA writers are in fact Americans, but they live here, so that's OK) and redress the balance a bit.
Right now the British children's best-selling lists are dominated by American Wimpy Kids and American dystopians . Sometimes I go into supermarkets or even bookshops and have to look hard to find an actual British teen book. I'd love to see Waterstones or WH Smith put on a Best of British teen book promotion. In the meantime, use that UKYA hashtag and start telling the world about our blog.