|Dress is extremely fashionable||Dress is power-lunch or power-walk|
|Runway shows with next season's clothing||Galley proof giveaways of next season's books|
|Stars are mobbed for autographs||Authors are mobbed for autographs|
|Editors spew theories about "upcoming trends"||Editors spew theories about "upcoming trends"|
Totally the same thing! Except with people happily eating cupcakes at parties, and a focus on books instead of clothing...
YA Dystopian is Dead. Long Live YA Contemporary, Diversity, and Melded GenresEditors from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Candlewick Press, The Atlantic, and Disney-Hyperion proclaimed that the YA Dystopian trend is over, but every few minutes they seemed to decide another buzzword was the future of the YA market. I can’t remember if different publishing houses were predicting different trends, but it seems like the YA book world could be spending the next season in transition before a new real trend emerges. Let’s face it, diversity and melded genres cannot be a fad the way that vampires/werewolves/angels/corrupt futuristic governments have been because something that’s offering novelty at every corner is not going to gain the trust of reluctant readers. (Unless you distill “diversity” into a trite common theme of “I’m different but I love myself for it!” which I very much hope doesn't happen.)
Based on the galleys I picked up and the books I heard about at the panel, transcending time is a theme, whether through literal time travel (the much-hyped All Our Yesterdays), genetic immortality (Wake Up Missing), or ghosts (Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer; Plague in the Mirror; Raven Boys quartet; These Broken Stars).
As for the editor-observed diversity theme, maybe there’s a Native American Indian moment coming this fall (Ghost Hawk, If I Ever Get out of Here, Sorrow’s Knot), but it looks like there’s a long way to go still.
Welcome Back, Stand Alone Novels!The editors on the YA panel said that they are “weary” of the trilogy craze that has dominated the market for years. We can only hope that readers agree, and that John Green gets some healthy competition on the NYTimes YA Bestsellers list.
New Adult FictionThis is the latest buzzword, and it seems to describe YA-like books with late teen / early twenties main characters who have more sex than normal YA characters. I think I picked up two that may qualify (Left Drowning and The Art of Falling). The only thing truly interesting about New Adult is that there’s no consensus on whether it exists.
I think it may work like imaginary numbers, so when a publisher has only one manuscript that seems like New Adult, it gets marketed as YA; but two manuscripts get farmed to genres, three claim a mature YA designation, and if there are four then the publisher can announce that New Adult is real. (Yes, the math on this is not just imaginary but wrong.)
American Girls Historical Book Questions(because you know you had them too)
Why did Elizabeth Cole (Felicity books) become a blonde, and did someone simply Photoshop all the images of her to keep girls from learning she originally had beautiful dark brown hair?At the time of the Elizabeth Cole BFF doll creation, American Girl determined that they had overrepresented brunettes, and for the sake of balance they needed another blonde. I really enjoyed talking to the American Girl editor, but it is INSANE that the American Girl/Mattel people thought that blondes should be 40% of their visual image.
As for how such hair changes are done, the illustrator was asked to rework some pictures. There may have also been some Photoshopping involved, but it was mostly done by hand.
Why wasn’t Ivy the main character of the Julie/Ivy 1970s pair? Did American Girl really need another blonde?The process of making an American Girl historical character starts with brainstorming issues or events that the company would like to address, matching these to a time period, and fleshing out further themes for the series. The company then commissions an author, who develops the character’s personality and stories. After that, the company determines what the character looks like (by figuring out what color hair they need, as we saw above).
In the case of Julie/Ivy, author Megan McDonald wrote a draft of Meet Julie that described Ivy. The production team loved Ivy so much that they hired an additional author, Lisa Yee, to write a separate book about Ivy in time for the Julie launch.
I still think it’s weird that American Girl’s efforts towards showing the diversity of experiences and circumstances in American history, as well as the unity of family and friendship bonds, hasn’t led to an AAPI main character in the historical line. I can only guess that the story the editor told me about Ivy’s inception means that American Girl legitimately didn’t realize it was ignoring the AAPI community, and when they saw Ivy in the Julie draft, they decided to create an Ivy doll before drawing too much attention to their oversight.