Local author Brenna Yovanoff goths it up for Young Adult readers
Penguin Books, eager to eclipse Twilight with a new moon of its own, sharpened its stakes and rounded up five authors of hot new fantasy titles for Young Adult readers from its various imprints, unleashing them on the world for the Breathless Reads National Book Tour, which haunts the Tattered Cover's Highlands Ranch store tomorrow at 7 p.m. Featured authors include Ally Condie (Matched), Andrea Cremer (Nightshade), Kristen Miller (The Eternal Ones), Beth Revis (Across the Universe), and Brenna Yovanoff, a Denver-based writer whose debut novel The Replacement is the darkest -- and the best -- of the bunch. We liked her book and its unlikely demon-rocker hero Mackie so much that we called her up to get some perspective on this whole YA fantasy craze.
Westword: How did the Breathless Reads tour come together and how did you come to be involved with it?
Photo courtesy Razorbill/Penguin Group Brenna Yovanoff's debut novel The Replacement is one of five featured books on the Breathless Reads National Tour
Brenna Yovanoff: It was something that Penguin put together, and I'm really flattered that they picked my book to be a part of it. The books are all very different from each other but all have kind of this fantastical element that draws them together as a group.
WW: Obviously the Harry Potter and Twilight Saga franchises have been massive successes. I read a lot of fantasy books when I was a kid too, so I don't mean to make it seem like this is an entirely new phenomenon, but... what do you think this new craze for these kinds of books is all about?
BY: There's always a lot of industry speculation on why things are popular or where things are going to be heading, but right now fantasy for young adults is just an incredibly booming genre. I think that one of the reasons it's so popular is because it can be a metaphor for very real adolescent concerns and can give readers emotional practice for real life issues.
WW: Do you have the sense that those readers are then graduating to heavier material, to books like The Replacement and the other books featured at this event?
BY: I don't know that it's always graduating to heavier material, necessarily, but I do find that readers who weren't readers before they discovered Harry Potter or Twilight or whatever then go out and start looking for more. Whatever it is that provides that initial spark, I think readers, once they find it, become readers for life. I think it's just amazing that these two huge franchises have made this whole new generation of readers.
WW: I found your book to be quite dark and heavy for a book aimed at young adults, which, of course, I would have loved when I was a teen. I'm curious about your perception of your readers and how much you think they can handle. Do you think publishers and other writers underestimate this audience?
BY: What I remember from my own reading habits as a teenager was that I always loved reading horror, even though I'm ultimately an optimist. I liked going to that really grim place but in a safe way, within the covers of a book. I think that's actually pretty common for teenage readers, and I figured there would be a lot of them out there who were like me. But I think there's actually a really broad spectrum of what authors are comfortable with based on their own experiences as readers growing up, and you do see a lot of "edgy" books for young adults these days. I don't necessarily think you have to try to be edgy just to appeal to young readers, but I don't like the idea of trying to sugarcoat things for younger readers, either.