Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Love YA -- Jay

I didn’t realize how much I loved writing for teens till this past Monday when I came face-to-face with my audience. As Eve mentioned previously, she’s been volunteering in a couple of high school Creative Writing classes (at my old high school). The teacher had been my Peer Communications teacher and invited me to speak to his students about my journey to publication. I agreed, seeing this as a great place to test the waters of public speaking to teens...though I had no idea if I would come off as a bumbling fool.

And since Eve and Robin love a good laugh, they came along.

Not more than five minutes into the first class did I realize (to my surprise) that I felt completely in my element. The students laughed at all the right parts, asked intelligent questions, and were intrigued by the entire publishing process. The areas they showed the most interested in were how I dealt with rejection and the revision process. I read them some rejection letters Thirteen Reasons Why received before it sold. Then I described how my editor and I moved through the revision process, everything from reworking the ending to word choice. For example, my editor wondered why Hannah’s first kiss tasted like hotdogs and mayonnaise and I told her because that’s how my first kiss tasted. She thought the description was too jarring, so she asked if I’d simply change it to a hotdog-flavored kiss, but I thought chilidog was funnier (without being jarring) and she agreed.

I never set out to write for teens. Funny middle-grade, that was my shtick. But I stumbled upon an idea that I just had to write. And while I would’ve been happy selling any of my previous manuscripts, I’m thrilled to be known as a novelist for teens...and I can't wait to speak to more of them.

- Jay


Anonymous said...

That is so great Jay! I am sure your chat was inspiring!

(the clay lady)

Disco Mermaids said...

Jay's talk was VERY inspiring. I think the kids liked hearing that someone from THEIR high school had grown up to be a success. Little did they know that Jay hasn't really grown up.
But seriously, it was so much fun for me and Eve to sit in the back and watch their reactions, particularly to see so many of them lean over to the person next to them and say, "I really want to read that book!"
You're a rock star, Jay, and yes, Eve and I are your groupies, but we're cool with that.