Monday, September 18, 2017

Celebrating 7 Years of GReads with John Corey Whaley

All month long I'm celebrating my 7th year of book blogging with the help of my bookish friends. To learn more about the event, please visit my introduction post I've linked just below. There, you can also enter to win a book by one of the fabulous authors who will be joining me this month to celebrate, as well.

Today's special guest is very dear to my heart. I first met author John Corey Whaley (or Corey as I know him), back in my early years of blogging. His debut novel WHERE THINGS COMES BACK had just published and I remember thinking: Wow, this is one talented dude! We first met at the Austin Teen Book Fest (now called the Texas Teen Book Fest), and kept up a habit of meeting up at future author events in the Texas area. He's been a great supporter of me and my blog, but also in my personal life as a teacher and educator. His voice in this YA community is profound, and one you should definitely be listening to. It's an honor to not only call him an author I admire, but also my friend. Please welcome John Corey Whaley to the blog...

Why, eh?

There's this funny thing that happens when you write books primarily for teens--you meet people who tell you, in earnest, that maybe one day you'll get to write an adult book. Or, more often, they ask Do you want to write adult books someday? And after this happens a few dozen times, you stop laughing at it and you start to question what this kind of attitude really means--especially for young people.

Why do so many adults still think stories written about teenagers aren't appropriate for them? Adolescence is one of the very few universal experiences that connects us all. We all have to be teenagers. It's one of the reasons I'm fascinated by it, really--it's like a physical and mental purgatory between childhood and adulthood, a cocoon where innocence starts to fade and the cynicism and anxiety of adulthood start trickling in.

I write YA because that teenage experience fascinates me in a way that "adult" life never has. I actually find being an adult quite boring most of the time, which is another reason it's nice to escape into stories of youth and coming-of-age and first steps into the chaotic world.

It should be no surprise that when I found myself welcomed into the YA Community almost seven years ago, blogs like this one opened my eyes up to a world where the cynicism and negativity directed at young people wasn't just unacceptable, but was being actively challenged--not just through the power of fiction, but in the voices of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and authors who set aside competitiveness and the bottom line to constantly come together for the better good of their readers. I met a community where being yourself was celebrated and where discussions of diversity and proper representation continue to evolve and progress everyday. I met a community devoted to speaking up for LGBTQ rights and fighting to get queer kids the respect and dignity they deserve. And I met, became a part of, and fell in love with a community that never, ever devalues young people and always appreciates what we can learn from them about ourselves.

I certainly didn’t find myself hanging around with a bunch of adult literary flunkies who'd settled on writing teen books just to pay the rent. These were artists and teachers who knew the impact they had with their stories could reach beyond the page. And now, after this year of political turmoil, I've found myself in a community that has risen to the occasion of fighting in the Resistance.

Reading has brought me many things. My career. My inspiration. Lessons about humanity and life that can't really exist outside of a good, authentic literary journey. But of all the inspiring things that reading has brought me, that books have provided, I've come to realize that none of them hold a candle to the inspiration I've found in this community of fellow booklovers.

Follow John Corey Whaley on twitter
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1 comment:

  1. LOVE THIS! Corey's reasons for writing YA are my reasons for reading YA.


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