Some of the "Best of" 2012 in YA Fiction
Lynn Rosen reconnects with author Beth Kephart to follow up on the success of her latest book, the YA novel Small Damages.
Congratulations on the success of Small Damages! Seems like it’s turning up on some end-of-year “Best of” lists. Can you give us specifics and tell us something about some of the various YA Awards and categories that are out there?
Thank you, Lynn. I think I’m just extremely blessed. I’m not sure I have the definitive answers about all the awards and honors and possibilities out there (for there are many), and I’m not even sure I know all that has happened with Small Damages, for I have a strict no-Google-myself policy and only ever know about those kindnesses that are sent along to me by my dear publicist, Jessica Shoffel, and kind friends.
But I will share what I do know. There are those “best of” lists assembled by news organizations such as The New York Times Book Review and The Atlantic Wire, and, of course, the lists produced by individual journalists. There are esteemed awards—the National Book Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) awards. There are “top ten” lists sponsored by trade magazines such as Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus. There are the lists created by Amazon.com and Goodreads, by independent booksellers and related trade associations. There are the citations of bloggers, who spend so much time thinking about and promoting books throughout the year. In recent years the Cybils awards have also been introduced, a very well-run program representing children’s and young adult bloggers’ literary favorites.
Small Damages has been kindly placed on the YALSA list of 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, named the most lyrical novel of the year in The Atlantic Wire, named best contemporary YA novel of the year by the powerhouse blogger Bookalicious, nominated for Cybils and Goodreads honors, and named to the Printz Watch by the book site CMRLS Teen Scene. I was also so happy to see the cover of Small Damages appear on the 25 most wonderful book covers of the year posting at The Atlantic Wire.
[Links to these various awards are included below]
What will it mean for book sales to get this sort of notice?
I’m not ever sure what my book sales are (a case of self protection, no doubt). But I can tell you what the citations have meant to me: a whole heck of a lot. I am the recipient of tremendous generosity, and how can anyone really quantify what that means? I am grateful to be included among loved writers and books. I am grateful, frankly, to be read. And just yesterday my agent received a query from a Los Angeles film company about Small Damages. We imagine that the query was prompted by one of these lists.
What’s YA Crossover? What’s New Adult?
The million dollar questions! Well, young adult books that fall into the crossover category are essentially ageless—they are so well made, so interesting, so important, so human, so timely or timeless that they are the right reading choice for anyone over the age of 12 or so (attracting even younger readers, in some cases). New adult? That’s a trickier term. It is a category created by some in the publishing industry designed to appeal to individuals of college age, or those recently graduated. It’s a still-evolving and –debated concept.
What’s next for you in this genre? In others?
In February I have a prequel to my Centennial Philadelphia novel, Dangerous Neighbors (which will soon release in paperback) set to launch—a book starring two best friends, William and Career, struggling to make ends meet and live their dreams in 1871 Bush Hill Philadelphia. Eastern State Penitentiary, Baldwin Locomotive Works, the great Public Ledger editor George Childs, and the Schuylkill River all star in this story, which is called Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent (to be published by Temple University Press, New City Community Press). In August, my book about the making and consequence of memoir, Handling the Truth, will be released from Gotham, featuring the work of several of my students as well as excerpts from nearly 100 classic memoirs. Next winter, We Could Be Heroes, Just for One Day, a crossover YA novel about the Berlin Wall in 1983, will be released from Chronicle Books. I am currently at work on a new book, based in Florence, for Chronicle.
I have a new nonfiction book percolating in my head. But I’m thinking it will be quite a while before I start to work on that.
Thank you for your questions, Lynn. And, as always, for your interest.
Nominated for Cybils and Goodreads Honors