So last November, an author named Scott Bergstrom got a six-figure deal and a movie deal for his new Y/A novel about ‘Gwendolyn Bloom, a Jewish, slightly overweight 17-year-old, who is transformed into a “lean warrior with hair dyed fire-engine red,’ during her mission to rescue her father, a kidnapped diplomat. Her search takes her into Europe’s most dangerous slums, and into contact with gangsters, spies, and arms dealers.”
Bergstrom touts this in the article as being really morally edgy because Gwen shoots first and asks questions later, and because it’s set in the real world, in contrast to all the Y/A that takes place in “a walled garden” (whatever he means by that). At the same time his new editor comments that the morality isn’t that complex (though she doesn’t put it that way): “Kicking butt to save your dad is actually a lot easier for me to swallow than kids killing kids in The Hunger Games.”
Well, yes, it is, one reason why I’m rolling my eyes at Bergstrom’s self-assessment (Shannon Thompson and Victoria Aveyard do too in different ways). The Hunger Games books are all about having to make horrible choices in an environment where you can’t simply give up and walk away — you either kill everyone else, even the nice people, or you die (as Aveyard notes, Katniss gets into the game to save her sister, but after that it’s kill-or-be-killed). A teen who does terrible things to save her father is actually a relatively safe bet, the same way a mother fighting to save her children gets a lot of latitude.
And frankly, a story where a pudgy teenage girl transforms into what sounds like a sexy, no-flab killing machine sounds pretty safe too. Certainly the kind of arc Hollywood loves (look, she starts flabby and ends sexy!). So color me unimpressed.
•More competition in the challenging world of online video.
•Do social media weaken the power of the media when interviewing the famous?
•A new approach to releasing movies for home viewing that cuts theaters in for a slice of the profits.
•Audiobooks are becoming bigger business.
•Including a time jump in your story.
•A lot of LA Times reporters are getting while the getting is good.
•It looks like “Happy Birthday” is finally entering public domain.
•Meanwhile, Disney gets a little obsessive about Star Wars copyrights.
•Five web sites for finding sources.
•A YouTuber posts an old news story about a dentist who allegedly assaulted patients. The dentist is suing.
•A writer discusses different ways for Y/A to be feminist: more female friendships, more female sports stories and multiple other options. Shannon Thompson discusses allowing characters to be kick-ass and girly both.
•Yes, having female heroes to admire does matter.
•NBC has argued that based on Netflix ratings, streaming shows doesn’t affect broadcast TV viewing. Netflix responds that ratings don’t matter much when you’re not selling air time for ads.
•Ten mistakes freelancers make. Mostly geared to nonfiction writers, but things like Read The Contract Before Signing are universally applicable.
•Mystery writer Sherry Harris looks at a 1968 issue of Seventeen. The Wonderbread ad is particularly memorable (“Are you the kind of girl boys fall in love with at the drop of your false lashes?”)
•New York Times reporters claim that the San Bernadino shooters talked openly on social media about their faith in jihad … only it wasn’t true.