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About AlexiaCasale

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    YA Author
  1. YA - Dislikes and Wishes!

    Hi, BSchultz19. Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? Not necessarily YA but absolutely terrific. For recent YA without pat endings... How about pretty much anything by Tim Bowler? I love River Boy and Starseeker especially. Those are contemporary with a bit of supernatural flair. Kristen Cashore's Fire is great for fantasy. CJ Daugherty writes contemporary, boarding school adventures but they're by no means 'happily ever after'. Hope it's OK to mention my book, The Bone Dragon, for a contemporary psychological thriller. Berlie Doherty is really interested for complex, nuanced stories of the slower but richer variety: mostly shades of historical fiction (including recent history). Oh, and Tanya Byrne's wonderful Heart-Shaped Bruise is a brilliant contemp. crime novel. In America there's much more of a tendency for upbeat endings but, above all, American publishers rarely publish morally ambiguous endings, which are my favourite type. Things that make you question what you think is right and wrong, rather than telling you. That's where British YA is really coming into its own. As for my likes and dislikes... No to zombies and vampires, yes to fantasy beasties... No to post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories because basically I'm a happy person and want to believe the future is brighter than the past. Yes to historical fiction, even when it's far from upbeat (it's OK for the past to be depressing if we've moved forward). I like romance and even love triangles - to a point. My big issue with romance in YA is that people are rarely sensible about love. Sometimes romance and clear thinking go together rather well. It's certainly not a good message when most books seem to say that romance is all about being blind and assuming that people are as nice as they look. I like to read about people of all ages who take responsibility for their lives and their choices - whatever those happen to be.
  2. YA Authors

    Hi, Eleanora. So interesting you mention Italy as I'd love to publish there, being half Italian and living there for part of the year. I've asked my agent to keep chasing that angle, so hopefully one day... So, my debut novel, is a psychological thriller called The Bone Dragon, published by Faber & Faber in the UK and Carlsen in Germany. Here's the blurb from the book-cover: Everyone at school thinks that Evie broke her ribs in a car crash… Evie doesn’t talk about why she was adopted and why she really needed an operation. Because some things should never be said. Now, she is safe and even has a souvenir from hospital – a piece of rib bone, which she carves into a dragon. And it comes to life at night in Dragon-dreams, helping Evie to heal, giving her strength. But some things cannot be fixed. Some things are too terrible to be forgiven. Sometimes, revenge must be take and it seems the dragon is the one to take it, while Evie looks on. BTW, in answer to a question on a different thread, I don't share my email address but people can find me via either of my websites (www.alexiacasale.com and www.thebonedragon.com) or Twitter (@AlexiaCasale) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/author.alexiacasale). I love hearing from readers so do get in touch if you've got any comments, questions or feedback!
  3. Ask the authors...

    Re: First person versus third person narratives... It all depends on the story for me. If I want to focus on the contrast between what's going on in the character's head versus in the story, then first person is the only effective way to do this. Talking in detail about emotions and thoughts in third person is awkward. If, however, I want to focus on what a variety of people are doing and leave the reader to interpret the thoughts and emotions, then third person is best. It all depends where the focus of the story is and what type of subtext I want to play with. >>Do any of you watch the book reviews done on YouTube? I'm wondering how many of you get fan mail , and if you have your email address in your books so that fans can contact you? I do my best to stay up to date with what people are saying about my work. Different people have different views on this, but for me being a professional writer means being well-informed. Sometimes reviews - especially on GoodReads - are hard to take, especially when I feel that they're discourteous or unfair... but that's part of being a writer. And I'd hate to miss out of something that could really drive an improvement in my writing. Plus it means that when I do events I can challenge what I see as misconceptions of the book. I never say 'Such and such said X, Y, Z and they're just WRONG because...' but I *can* and do choose to bring up subjects and general lines of interpretation that I'd like to challenge. It's a way of getting my side across without speaking directly to - or even specifically about - a review I have an issue with. Most of all, there's the amazing rush of happiness I get when I read a good review or a positive comment. The negative stuff is well worth putting up with to make sure I don't miss all the wonderful stuff. I've been really lucky in that almost everyone has been polite and generous in their feedback: I'd never want to miss out on all that kindness and goodwill over fear about the odd thing that might upset me. I think this is part and parcel also of having worked in the theatre: that's a real learning curve of understanding that if you're going to do it, you have to listen to what people say - good and bad. >>How many of you draw on your years as a teen when it comes to writing your bools? I definitely do... but then I draw on my life in general, and the lives of those around me. But there's so much change when you're a teenager - it's a really rich period of life to work from... and obviously my teen year are my 'way in' to teenage characters. >>Do you guys get any percentages of ages of your readers? I don't know where to find this out but I'd love to know more! So far the vast majority of my readers have been adults - mid 20s and up - but I'm starting to get a really wide-ranging readership in terms of ages and that's so exciting.
  4. Ask the authors...

    Like Laura, the fact that TBD fits well in YA was accidental... I see myself as a writer, not a writer of any specific category or genre. In my career I'm hoping to publish a fairly wide variety of books from YA to adult historical fiction. Genres and categories are interesting to play with as a writer, but they don't dictate my writing choices. TBD ended up being YA because a family friend suggested it might be hard to sell the book as adult fiction because (a) it has a teenage protagonist and (b) it blurs adult genre boundaries too much to be an easy marketing proposition. I just wanted to get the book I wanted to write to readers. I don't have strong views about what label it comes under: so long as it is getting to people who will like it, I'm happy. Some of the stories I want to tell during my writing career will work better as adult books and some will work better as YA, but I doubt I'll write for younger readers. Or at least write for publication for younger readers! I've got a few little books I want to do for my Goddaughter and her lovely little sister, but that's a captive audience that can be bribed with chocolate to say they're the best books ever. I've never *had* to defend myself as a YA author... though I have faced times when people have gone 'Oh, published as YA? <sniff, sniff> Ah yes.' But as I just find that type of response a bit silly I've never felt a need to defend myself against it. Some people look down on YA... but some people look down on the Classics as boring and outmoded. I think it would be better if we could all recognise and discuss our preferences without dismissing whole categories of literature out of hand as 'inferior'. Certainly, in universities I think it's important that we move away from limiting what students read and write because of individual prejudices about high and low culture. It's the quality of the writing and scholarship that should matter, not the genre of the text or manuscript in question. Alexia www.thebonedragon.com www.alexiacasale.com
  5. What is it you love about YA?

    My favourite thing about YA is that's the one category/genre that welcomes books that dissolve traditional genre boundaries. This opens up a really interesting space for innovation and for books that aren't just about one element of life but can look at how different things come together to shape people's lives. The 'constraints' of writing in a way that is deemed 'suitable' for a YA audience also encourage people to discuss difficult issues (usually)without including graphic depictions of sex and violence, let alone sexual violence. As a result, the discussions are often deeper and more nuanced than when the focus is purely on representing these things, as it too often is in 'adult' fiction. Which is not to say that YA is by definition better at doing this, but YA writers tend to worry more about graphic material and that has many benefits in terms of directing their attention instead to issues like the impact of violence, the meaning of sex in people's lives, etc. rather than their focusing being on the mechanics of acts of sex/violence. Just my 2 cents. Alexia
  6. What exactly is YA?

    In my mind, categories/genres aren't mutually exclusive: often there's a lot more overlap than placement on bookstore shelves or under online categories would suggest. Harry Potter fits neatly in Children's but also YA (especially the later books). To my mind, YA is a genre not an age-category: what defines a book as YA isn't who reads it but rather what and who the book is about. For me, a YA book concerns a YA protagonist: loosely, someone between the ages of 13 and 19... though when someone stops being a young adult and is just an adult is up for debate: there's also the whole New Adult category, which theoretically takes over from about 19... Anyway, a YA book has a YA protagonist, irrespective of the age of the majority of the readers. YA books also, as a result, have at least one theme that concerns issues of paramount importance for (most) young adults: first love, first sex, school work, getting into university/college, physical maturity, friendships, discovering who you are... Loosely speaking, 'coming of age/growing up' is a key theme in YA books. YA books are, broadly speaking, expected to be tightly written and relatively short compared with most 'adult' novels: there shouldn't be a long lead-in before the 'hook' of the story. Perhaps most importantly, normal genre boundaries are much more porous and fluid in YA: a coming of age novel set in a high school featuring an epic love story between an elf and a dragon-shapeshifter-in-human-form, with a murder mystery on the side and a tiny bit of time-travelling? - no problem! Books are expected to fall neatly into only one (or at most two) 'adult' genres or be considered 'unmarketable', but in YA blurring genre boundaries is often part of the point. This is what makes YA so exciting... in addition to the fact that this pseudo-age category is still in its early days and its transition to a genre is still very much on-going, therefore the conventions and tropes that define the genre are ever evolving. It's a great time to be a YA writer: it automatically makes you part of something much bigger than any individual book. That's my take on it at least! Alexia