maureenjohnson

I'm Dumbledore
  • Ginny: So you have a photographic memory?
  • Oliver: no, because that would be useful. its far more random than that. I can recite the entire first chapter of every Harry Potter book. I can recite all forty-seven pages of my school handbook. i can re-create eight episodes of season two of Doctor Who, with the tenth doctor, word for word. I memorized the driving manual. I just seem to memorize things that have some significance to me......It just happened, No control over it. Came in Handy though.
  • Ginny: You can recite all the first chapters of Harry potter?
  • Oliver: Yes well... I can recite chapters on through four of book one, chapters one and two of book two chapters....
  • Ginny: Okay wait, I want to hear this. because I don't believe you.
  • Oliver: Which one do you want?
  • Ginny: The first book.
  • Oliver: okay, book one.......
  • after a few moments that had attracted the attention of some very stoned people sitting two tables over.
  • Stoned Dude: Was that Harry Potter?
  • Oliver: What makes you say that?
  • Stoned Dude: You kept saying 'Harry Potter' and it sounded like it. it sounded like you were reading it. how did you do that?
  • Oliver: (Oliver leaned right into the guys face and quietly said) I'm Dumbledore.
  • THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE By Maureen Johnson
  • http: //maureenjohnsonbooks.tumblr.com/
I AM SOBBING

so there was this contest to be in a debate at LeakyCon (for the Lit track people), so I submitted my anti-Slytherin house proposal as my audition and I JUST GOT EMAILED BACK AND I FUCKING WON

So on Saturday I get to debate on a team with author Lev Grossman and Andrew Slack from the HPA about dissolving the Slytherin house

and I don’t know whom I’m debating against but Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman judged the videos and in their email to me they said they’re excited to meet me

MAUREEN JOHNSON AND ROBIN WASSERMAN SAW MY VIDEO AND ARE EXCITED TO MEET ME

AND I GET TO MEET THEM AND DEBATE WITH LEV GROSSMAN AND ANDREW SLACK IN FRONT OF A WHOLE ROOM OF PEOPLE ON A FUCKING PANEL AT LEAKYCON 

LET ME DIE

The cover flipping project (started by author Maureen Johnson) is a really cool idea. You take a book cover and change it to what it might look like if the author of said book was a different gender. It’s gotten a lot of people thinking about the sexism in publishing and that’s great, but i noticed some people seemed to be missing the point (from what my understanding of what this project is trying to get across). Aspects of the book are not changed, just the cover art. If, hypothetically, there is a romantic aspect to a book written by a man, and you decide that if it was written by a woman that that would be the selling point of the cover art that’s cool. You’d be wrong though in saying something along the lines of “if this book was written by a woman the story would focus more on the romantic subplot. That’s not the idea here (again just from my understanding of it). It’s not supposed to be a different book. It’s the same book. The words in the book are exaclty the same as before we image that the author is a different gender. The perception of the book based entirely on the cover  (haha…judge a book by it’s cover…) is what’s supposed to be altered, potentially due to gender bias. Sorry this isn’t really well written but i just wanted to put my thoughts out there!

Gender and YA - Why it Matters

The Intertubes have been on fire these past several weeks with intense and provocative discussions of gender and YA. There have been extensive ruminations on gendered book covers, gendered readership, the role of gender in creating a best-seller, the role of gender in critical appraisals…you get the idea.

These bomb-throwing exercises have been predictably fascinating, primarily because the folks leading the discussion are among the leading lights of the young adult world: Maureen Johnson, John Green, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, and Professor Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Barnes has a particularly interesting post up about the role of male privilege in literature more generally, but it certainly applies to YA more specifically. Barnes argues (quite convincingly) that a statistical analysis of book releases overall undermines the oft-cited proposition that the best selling writers are women, so there is no gender issue in the world of writing. But Barnes, while a welcome antidote to a facile reading of the best seller lists, doesn’t reach perhaps the most interesting issue in all of this: the identity of the reader.

There is little question in my mind, as a recovering literature major with a weakness for critical theory, that certain expectations are brought to the table when a cultural production like a book is sent out into the marketplace. In the YA market this is particularly vivid. Adolescent girls and adolescent boys are taught to adopt certain narratives by the larger culture, and the way that books are marketed to them reflects those choices. I have a thirteen year-old son, and (as a YA author myself) I speak to kids pretty regularly. I can tell you that peer pressure among boys not to read is intense and pervasive, and that even being seen as being interested in a “girl’s” book is verboten. Thus, women are often encouraged to use their initials (S.J. Kincaid, S.E. Hinton, J.K. Rowling, etc.) if they are explicitly writing a “boys” book, because that helps prevent boys from making gendered assumptions at the point of sale. Even books like the Hunger Games and Legend took a long time to crack into the boy market - older sisters may have been the secret weapon there.

Girls are free to read a wide variety of books, but are ironically not viewed as a “sophisticated” audience by the publishing industry itself. Girls are (based on the way that YA books are marketed to them) seen as superficial, interested only in romance, and suckered into purchase decisions by the presence of a girl in a long dress on the cover of a book.

When I first submitted an earlier version of my book The Secret Root to agents, one of the common responses I received was “I love the book, but boys don’t want to read about a girl protagonist, and girls don’t want to read hard science fiction, so you’ll have to add a male protagonist.” Now, ironically, this happened to make sense for my book - book 2 of the series was already going to feature a male protagonist prominently, so I merely had to shift things around and it did improve the narrative. But I was insulted and struck by the narrow-mindedness of the industry.

But another irony here is that the “critical establishment” functions from an entirely different point of view. To the critic, it would seem, only a book written by a man can be “universal.” While women write best-sellers, critical enthusiasm is almost inversely proportionate to popularity, and the rare instances of convergence always seem to involve a male writer. When the New York Times decided to put together their list of the best novels of the past 25 years, they chose “Beloved” by Toni Morrison as the winner, but the runners up included 25 books by men and only one other book by a woman (“Housekeeping” by Marianne Robinson). In the YA world, this is not quite as relevant on a day-to-day basis: the majority of YA book bloggers, best selling YA novelists, and YA readers are women, But, when a book escapes the YA jail and gets “literary” credit, the chance that the book was composed by a man increases disproportionately. NPR’s list of the best YA ever is headed by Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling, but 7 out of the top ten are by men.

So what have we learned? That facile presumptions about gender and YA are a bad idea? Well, of course. But I think the lesson here is that we all need to work exceptionally hard as writers, readers, editors, publishers and critics to ensure that our presumptions about writers and readers are not biasing our choices. There’s too much good stuff out there to allow us to judge a book by its cover (or its author). UPDATE: Tumblr somehow erased every link I had embedded in this post. In the spirit of laziness, I am not going to bother fixing it, because it is Sunday and I have work to do!

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Currently reading: Let it snow (three holiday romances) by: John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. Finally got what I wanted 3 months ago since I purchased The fault. I promised myself that I’ll have this book in the yuletide season and at last! I have it! And I’m currently on Chapter 9 of the first story which is the Jubilee express (Maureen Johnson), and 3 more chapters to go til I start A Cheertastic Christmas miracle written by John Green and lastly The patron saint of pigs by Lauren Myracle. Happy reading dear thyself! :D