If you follow anyone in the UK & Irish YA community, you may have come across this today: #CaitlinMoranShouldRead
I don’t really know who Caitlin Moran is: comedian, journalist, “social commentator”, who knows? (I’m Australian; I don’t know UK celebrities.) Anyway, her YA novel (or an adult novel with a 16-year-old protagonist), How to Build a Girl, will be published soon, so The Bookseller interviewed her. The full interview is behind a paywall or something, so we’re stuck with this short piece. Possibly the quotes aren’t in context, so we misunderstand. Thus out of context, her words come across as…well, naive and ignorant towards the YA book community. One of the most commonly given writing advice is to READ a lot in your chosen genre, but the article’s quotes seem to suggest that Ms. Moran hasn’t done her research.
…she was moved to write about teenage sexuality…in response to the Fifty Shades of Grey…phenomenon, which she said had made her “angry and despairing”.
She’s not alone with that last point: that E. L. James’s series seems to portray psychological abuse as “romantic” is a major concern. But that trilogy is aimed at an adult audience, or maybe New Adult – NOT young adult. So linking Fifty Shades with teenage sexuality doesn’t really make sense.
…argued that writing about sexual adventures was important for that age group. “…I wanted to get in there before anyone else and talk about sex.”
That quote: derp. Judy Blume, Jacqueline Wilson, Cecily von Ziegesar. And that’s just the stuff I read – there’re probably many more authors that spring to mind for other readers. Ms. Moran is hardly the first author to think, “Hey, teen girls have sex – I should write about that.”
“It’s always about teenage boys going off and having amazing adventures. You don’t see teenage girls anywhere unless they’re being bitten by vampires so I wanted to write about a funny, weird teenage girl having adventures, particularly sex adventures.”
Apparently, Twilight is the only young adult novel ever published. Who knew. *headdesk* (Besides, Breaking Dawn is all about bed-breaking sexcapades that result in the scariest pregnancy since Alien, and the freakiest child who’s “imprinted” upon as a youngster by the mother’s best friend, and supposedly that’s not paedophiliac, though it kind of is… This book’s totally bonkers, which could be why I find it the most entertaining of the saga.)
And thus #CaitlinMoranShouldRead appeared on Twitter, to…well, recommend books that Caitlin Moran should read. Not sure who started it, and I don’t think Ms. Moran has responded to it yet.
(Kind of off-topic: There’s a car ad with a 1980s synth-pop song about “Space Invaders”. The tune is in my head, but the lyrics are now “sex adventures”, due to that article. Thank you, Ms. Moran.)
So, Caitlin Moran should read…which books about teen girls’ sex adventures?
Gabrielle Carey & Kathy Lette’s Puberty Blues: The voice is spot-on, the scenarios believable.
Judy Blume’s Forever: Don’t put aftershave on testicles!
Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls in Love (series): Don’t think I’d heard the term “slag” before reading this.
Mel Sparke’s Sugar Secrets (series): There’s a funny scene (don’t know in which book) about condom-shopping…
Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl (series) Avoid the spinoffs, and stick with the original series. It’s actually quite satirical and hilarious: Vanessa’s pretentious films, Dan’s pretentious writing, and Chuck Bass is all monogrammed scarves and a monkey on his shoulder. (Don’t know if the monkey was in the TV adaptation.)
But all these are no longer being published, and I read adult erotica (Tiffany Reisz, for the win!) so I don’t know about current teen-girl-sexcapades novels…
Huh. In that case, maybe Ms. Moran has a point.