I recently appeared at the Children’s Literature Festival of the Ozarks and had the opportunity to meet YA authors Roland Smith, Obert Skye, Antony John, Mary Casanova, and Heather Brewer among many other children’s book authors, all of whom have had books nominated for various state awards.
Whenever I meet other authors, I wonder what drives their passions to write and am curious to find out what kind of voices speak to them. Writing is an often isolating and difficult task. Writers have to be in love with their characters in order to wrestle with the process.
I’m putting the following books on my to-read list. I chose these particular books of the many the above authors have written because either these particular characters or the genres (fantasy, adventure, and historical fiction) are the most different from my own work.
By Obert Skye
Skye is one of the funniest people I’ve met. I’ve heard from his many fans that his books are both suspenseful and funny—that’s a great combination for a potential page turner. The book focuses on 15 year-old Beck Phillips, a trouble-maker who discovers some surprising family secrets, which includes the unusual ability to influence the growth of plants.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Shadow Mountain
By Heather Brewer
Vladimir Tod has an unusual family tree: his mother was human and his father was a vampire. Loved by her fans for her sense of humor, Brewer shows in these tales how difficult it can be to be different. The series chronicles Tod’s life from grade eight through his high school years. I’d like to see how this character evolves and grows each year.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Speak
By Mary Casanova
Five-year old Sadie Rose was found, orphaned and unable to speak, in a snow bank. Frozen is the story of Sadie’s journey during her teen years to discover her past and her voice. Among the issues the character struggles with are the discovery that her mother worked in a brothel and the fact that her foster parent—a senator—is corrupt. I have never written historical fiction, but I enjoy reading it. The themes here—prohibition, women’s rights, and political corruption—have dramatic appeal.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press
By Antony John
Outsider stories can be powerful. The main character of this series, sixteen-year-old Thomas, is a remarkable outsider: He is the first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire. This author’s fans get hooked on the imaginative world he creates and they root for a character who starts out believing that he is worthless and ends up finding his own power.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Dial
By Roland Smith
The premise of Peak—that a 14-year-old delinquent is pressured by a self-centered father to climb Mount Everest—caught my attention. Peak Marcello (yes, that’s the main character’s name) is arrested for climbing an NYC skyscraper, and it’s that bit of trouble that ends up reconnecting him with his father, the owner of a mountaineering expedition company. Although I’ve never written an adventure, I enjoy novels that show teens wrestling with family conflicts, discovering flaws in their parents and well as themselves, and finding the inner strength to grow.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Harcourt
About the Author
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, songwriter, musician, puppeteer, and poet. She writes for children of all ages, and is beginning to focus on YA. Her first YA novel was Guitar Notes. Mary lives with her family outside Washington, DC, where she also performs regularly, singing and playing her own songs. Mary is a popular speaker and runs numerous workshops for teachers and students, including many on all aspects of creative writing, even songwriting. The author lives in Silver Spring, MD. You can visit her online at https://www.thrumsociety.com/.
By Mary Amato
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.
Minerva has been raised by her single mother after her father left them both. On her 17th birthday, she is shocked to discover that he has been trying to keep in touch, but her mother has been sabotaging his attempts. Furious at her mom, she begins to investigate her dad, a famous marine biologist, only to discover that he has a new family, including a beloved, and perfect, stepdaughter–a girl Minerva already knows and despises.
As she makes her way, trying to build her performing and songwriting career, her jealousy takes over and threatens to derail her life completely. It is only through the efforts of her best friend, Fin, and the introduction of Hayes, a new young man in her life, that she is able to see clearly who she is and who makes up her family.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: EgmontUSA | October 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1606845226
Enter to win a hardcover copy of Get Happy, by Mary Amato. Giveaway ends December 15, 2014.
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