Friday, August 29, 2008

An interview with Emily Wing Smith

The Way He LivedWhen a book design is finished and we find we've got extra pages in the last signature, Production Editor Sandy, Designer Steff, Marketing People, and I talk about how we can fill them. More often then not, we end up doing an interview or perhaps discussion questions, and more often than not, I get to do the interviewing. Most recently, Steff finished the design for The Way He Lived, and I sent Emily six questions. Her answers are, as I expected, very thoughtful, but I thought her answer to my last question was particularly worth sharing early.

AK: The young adult genre has gotten a lot of attention lately, and there's a lot of discussion about what makes a book "YA," as opposed to "adult." In your mind, what makes this book YA?

EWS: I didn’t give any thought to whether or not my book would be young adult. I’ve wanted to write young adult fiction since the time I was a young adult myself. I read YA literature in junior high and high school, studied YA literature in college, and specialized in YA literature in graduate school. I feel the same way a lot of YA authors feel: that in my heart, I will forever be seventeen years old.

My own feelings aside, however, I think The Way He Lived is a young adult book because of its tone. While many books for adults feature young adult characters, adult books generally have the tone of “look at what I’ve learned.” The tone in my book (and I think this is true of young adult books in general) is “learn with me.”

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