Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Faculty Feature: Kristen-Paige Madonia
What are some of your favorite YA books?
This list is constantly in flux, but I always recommend John Green's work, particularly Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. Other favorites include John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back and David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing. Claiming Georgia Tate by Gigi Amateau is wonderful, too, as is M.T. Anderson's Feed, Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story, and Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park.
What draws you to write YA?
It's funny, I don't actually believe writers always get to choose what they write -- often the work, the subject and the characters and themes, choose you. I didn't start out intending to write YA fiction; in fact, when my agent and I were preparing to submit Fingerprints of You to editors, we couldn't decide if it would be categorized as YA or adult lit, so we sent it to editors of both genres -- ultimately, it sold to Simon & Schuster's YA division, Books for Young Readers. But now, as I'm in the midst of collecting ideas for my third YA lit novel, I can easily say that it's the voice and urgency of story that draws me to write YA. I think I will always write for both teens and adults, but there is something so particularly honest and authentic about YA, something so relatable and powerful about that time period of coming-of-age. I've also found great inspiration in the community of readers. It's an amazing thing to connect with teens that have used your work to empower themselves in some way, to feel less alone and to gain confidence and strength.
YA seems to have a lot of cross-over appeal (both kids and adults seem to love it). Why do you think that is?
It's so easy to believe in the characters, to feel aligned with them and to become part of their worlds. On the one hand we can all remember that time in our life, no? When everything seemed so raw and risky and transformative. And on the other hand, aren't we all still coming-of-age and changing, evolving and growing day by day?
Find out more about Kristen-Paige's Young Adult Literature workshop this summer at the Taos Summer Writers' Conference.
Kristen-Paige Madonia is the author of the Young Adult literary novel Fingerprints of You (Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2012); her short fiction has recently appeared in FiveChapters, New Orleans Review, Upstreet, and American Fiction: Best Previously Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers. She is the recipient of the 2012 Taos Writers’ Conference D.H. Lawrence Fellowship and was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Prize in 2010. She has received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, Juniper Summer Writing Institute, the Hambidge Center, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Key West Literary Seminar and the Studios of Key West. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach and teaches fiction at the University of Virginia and James Madison University.