Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Interview with The Bookseller- YA Book Prize Fever!

Hello readers! Today, as promised, I will be doing a feature on the YA Book Prize- an exciting celebration in the British literary sphere that highlights the YA books we can't stop talking about. Ever since I first heard about this I have wanted to be involved- and thanks to the social media linked with the Prize, readers can get involved simply by tweeting their favourite book, and joining in the conversation with other YA enthusiasts! At the moment I have to say I am #TeamGhostsofHeaven...

Want to find out more about the prize? Here is an interview with Charlotte Eyre, Children’s Editor at The Bookseller, to tell us more...

Please could you briefly outline what the YA Book Prize is?

 In basic terms, the prize is a celebration of British and Irish YA literature.

We wrote a big article in the Bookseller last year on all the different book prizes there are in the UK but several publishers said they were said they were sad there wasn’t a prize just for teen and YA books, especially those written and published here, because the big American authors like John Green and Veronica Roth tend to dominate. We were initially thinking of launching a teen book prize but booksellers we spoke to said they wanted a YA prize instead. So that’s what we did!

What kind of people are involved in choosing the books shortlisted for the Prize?

 A team of Bookseller staff. When we opened the prize to submissions last December eight of us read through all the books entered (nearly 100) and put together a shortlist of 10 titles.

What makes a great YA book?

 This is such a hard question! Everyone has a different idea about what makes a good YA book but when I think about this question I think back to what I felt when I read Melvin Burgess’ Junk when I was fourteen. I was totally gripped, yes because it was a brilliantly written book, but also because it let me explore things I was starting to learn about as a teenager – sex, drugs, leaving home – in book form. So it was way of exploring, eg. heroin addiction, without sticking a needle in my arm.

So a good YA novel should allow young people explore the things you start to discover as a teenager, whilst being a brilliant story to read.

How important is social media for the YA Book Prize?

 Very! It’s allowed us to talk about the shortlisted books with readers, it’s been really interesting to see who likes what. We decided early on to shortlist one book a week using a hashtag, so one week it is #TeamOnlyEverYours, another it is #TeamTrouble, and it’s really great to see readers create fan videos and blogs in support of the book they want to win. The publishers like it too, of course, because it raises the profiles of the books.

 How do you view the future of YA literature?

 I think it’s got a great future and I think British writers will start to get a bit more recognition. In terms of trends, I think feminist YA is going to go from strength to strength and there is going to be a lot more diversity in terms of ethnicity and LGBT characters.

Authors aren’t afraid of hard-hitting plots and that won’t change any time soon.

In terms of what I would like to see, it would be nice if certain adults stopped being snotty about YA and saying things like “well I was reading Charlotte Bronte when I was fourteen”. Teenagers and young people still read Bronte, Dickens, Tolstoy and any other literary author you can think of. They are reading YA in addition to, not instead of, classic novels. Plus they are perfectly capable of deciding what they want to read, they’re not three years old. 

Visit the YA Book Prize website here.

Want to be involved? Join in the conversation by tweeting your choice to win and the #Team to have your say!

Have a look at my previous post to see all of the books on the shortlist here.

Until next time :)

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