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My most recent StarShipSofa "Looking Back on Genre History" segment, which discusses H.P. Lovecraft's non-fiction essay "In Defense of Dagon," is now available in the latest episode of the podcast. You can download it or listen to it here. This is the first part of a two-part special; in the second half, I'll be discussing Lovecraft's non-fiction essays "Supernatural Horror in Literature," "Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction," and "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction." If you listen, I hope you enjoy. (A full list of my past podcast segments, with links, is available here.)


So, there's been a whopper of a controversy very interesting discussion about young adult fiction lately...


In other news, I failed to post a couple of days ago on the anniversary of the Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders in Locust Grove. (For my past posts on this topic, see here.) There are, however, a couple of new developments...


In happier news, the Smart Pop Books anthology Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the P.C. and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series is now available! It includes my essay “Reimagining ‘Magic City’: How the Casts Mythologize Tulsa.”

Cover for Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the PC and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series (2011)




In parting, a couple of thoughts with reference to the Gurdon/Young Adult Fiction controversy...

"Their [children's] books like their clothes should allow for growth, and their books at any rate should encourage it." - J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories"

"I think it possible that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable." - C.S. Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing for Children"

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
muuranker
Jun. 15th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I misread that: "how cats mythologize Tulsa".


We have two cats, one with an imagination, one without. Kiwi will imagine a mouse, and hunt it. Broggy will join in the hunt. When Kiwi is bored and wanders off, Broggy will remain vigilant. He finally assumes the mouse has got away.

Kiwi used to imagine her tail-tip was a mouse, and hunt it round the ironing-board (her sitting on top of it, reaching underneath).

The city really mythologized by cats is Seroster.

Sorry, digression - what I really wanted to say was that those two quotes really are the petards that are needed to assault the walls thrown up around YAs by Gurdon.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 16th, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
LOL! I love the cats mythologizing. Kiki and Broggy sound like great fun.

And I'm so glad you also found those quotes to be appropriate.
savageseraph
Jun. 16th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)
Thanks for this post. The WSJ article is both maddening to me and inspiring to my writing muse. I've been reading a lot more YA in the last three years, and I keep thinking, "Damn, I wish I had all this when I was a kid."

Also, I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on the House of Night anthology.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 16th, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
My pleasure! I'm the exact same way re: reading more YA and wishing I had these books when I was younger. Sorry for the maddening part, but I'm glad it's inspiring, too!

And thanks so much! I hope you enjoy the book.
cookiefleck
Jun. 16th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
When you said "the YA community responded" I wondered: just what percentage of the YA community is actually YA? The current "YA" label continues to confuse/puzzle/disturb me on some level, still.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 16th, 2011 10:31 am (UTC)
In this case, that's wholly my fault; I should've said the YA author community, because the majority of those responding to whom that post links are authors of books published/marketed in the YA category (or, in a few cases, critics thereof). I most definitely agree that the category itself is problematic. Sorry for the confusion!
arymetore
Jun. 16th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
I came across two quotes/source recently that relate to this. In the way that adults often think that children can't handle complex or deep subjects... when it's sometimes more often the reverse. These are both from the discussions on Mark Watches: Avatar the Last Airbender (Season 2, Episode 17 Lake Laogai):

From poster artic_hare: I know I'm a bit of a broken record on the subject of Diana Wynne Jones lately, but there's an interview with her that has a section that is really relevant to this that I'm going to post here.

Q: Minor Arcana has been described as a kids' book for adults. I can’t tell the difference.

A. No, neither can I. I never could tell what meant an adult book and what meant a kids book. To some extent it’s the protagonist. They might be 14 or they might be 44, but otherwise, what’s the difference? I do not know. I don’t myself think that the difference resides in torrid sex scenes, which I find a total bore and hold up the action rather, like in old Hollywood films, where someone had to tap dance and sing, and I’d go, "Oh, come on, stop it. We want to know what happens next." Otherwise, I don’t know the difference.

Q: Some of the stories in Minor Arcana were published originally as children’s stories. They seem more complex and more explicit in some ways than the ones first published elsewhere.

A. That’s because most adult editors believe that adults have given up using their minds when they read, so they like the simpler stories. It seems to work that way. It is true that with kids things you can do much more complex things because people are prepared to allow you to.

There was one story in Minor Arcana that never got published anywhere else at all. This was the very early years, and this is one of the reasons why I have this don’t give up, don’t despair blueprint for life, because I did send it to a very large literary agent who didn’t even bother to read it, and just passed it back to me saying, "I don’t think we’re interested in this fantasy sort of stuff." I asked if she had read it. "Oh, no!" It was very depressing. That was the long story at the end called The True State of Affairs, and that was a very early one. That is not actually a very complex story, its just a situation explored and that I thought it was quite surprising in that no-one bothered with it.

But you know, the nice thing about writing for children is that kids are prepared to use their minds. So you can throw all the ideas in and get it really complicated and tangled, and cats-cradled, and they don’t mind. They don’t worry about the plot getting complicated, because they can follow Doctor Who, and anyone who can follow Doctor Who can follow anything!

A followup post by FlameRaven: Neil Gaiman has a quote about this as well. Paraphrased, it's something along the lines of, "You write the story that wants to be written, and if it's too difficult for adults, you write it for children."


Edited at 2011-06-16 02:35 pm (UTC)
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 18th, 2011 11:12 am (UTC)
Oh, I love these insights! Thank you so much for sharing this.

the nice thing about writing for children is that kids are prepared to use their minds. So you can throw all the ideas in and get it really complicated and tangled, and cats-cradled, and they don’t mind. They don’t worry about the plot getting complicated, because they can follow Doctor Who, and anyone who can follow Doctor Who can follow anything!

This is SO TRUE.

And Gaiman? I shouldn't be surprised. He gets everything right.

ankh_hpl
Jun. 16th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
HPL's non-fiction on the Sofa? As a two-part series? I cannot wait to listen to this puppy!
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 18th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! :) I hope you enjoy.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )