At the LA Times Jacket Copy blog, Cecil Castellucci reports on S.E. Hinton's appearance with Jane Smiley at the LA Book Festival.
Hinton read from her new book, Some of Tim's Stories.
The best part? Hinton reveals she writes fanfiction. For her own stories. Quote: Despite fans begging over the years for a sequel to "The Outsiders," there won’t be one, although she cheekily claimed that she sometimes writes fan fiction and that the best on S.E. Hinton fan fiction sites is hers. “Pony Boy learns a lot in what happened in that week, and it changed the way he thought.”
Hinton also talked about Hawkes Harbor; which reads very much like a fan fiction inspired by Dark Shadows. And some sources say it began as an official Dark Shadows novel. But I'm guessing that wasn't mentioned Hinton's talk.
Jane Smiley and Hinton also discussed adults writing for YA: The conversation wrapped on a strange note, when Smiley said that books written by adults for young adults were a kind of propaganda. It wasn't clear what it was propaganda for. Hinton seemed to agree and to imply that there was an optimism of youth that could not be recaptured by adults in a genuine way.
Castellucci notes, Does this mean that both Smiley and Hinton think that only young people can write authentic teen voices or authentic teen books? I don’t believe that, and I suspect that they don't, either. In the end, it doesn’t matter; when it comes to great classic YA novels, "The Outsiders" is a crown jewel.
I am curious about the "propaganda" Smiley referenced (and, of course, want to know what specific books she means.) And it sounds like maybe Hinton didn't know what the hell Smiley meant, either. I think it's rather simplistic to think that only teens can write "authentic teen voices or authentic teen books."
I wonder if teen authors -- authors first published as teens -- suffer from some of the same things as teen actors (with less public meltdowns). That is, being stuck in a role that they outgrow. Teen authors, especially today, get a little more attention and celebrity because of their age; how often do the jacket photos age and grow with the author?
Teen authors' first books were about teens because they were teens; there is no reason to continue to write teen books just because that is where they began. As people and authors, they will grow and change; and like Gordon Korman, may continue to write books for young readers and teens. As authors, their talent may be wonderfully capturing the age they are at or have lived through, so no, they cannot return to writing teen literature. But other authors have the talent and skill to capture the teen years, no matter their own age. It's a matter of talent, skill, interests; it's not a matter of propaganda, and one set of books is not less (or more) than another.
Edited to add: For a different take, read Wendy Werris's report at Publisher's Weekly.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy