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News From/For Our Clean Authors > Important article - Must read about YA fiction!

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This article in the Wall Street Journal will give a glimpse into the mindset of publishers and how they purposely push inappropriate material in YA fiction. It is a MUST read for parents to understand what they are up against. This is the battle I fight against a 'clean author' - first to get my book traditionally published and now to continue as a self-published author.

message 2: by Cheri (new)

Cheri | 1 comments Thanks for sharing this. Of course I couldn’t read all of it because it was a little too upsetting for me. Maybe because I have teens and these kinds of things in books are something I worry about. It’s also part of why I write clean teen novels.

While I was in the query process and looking for an agent, I did learn that it’s the age of the main character that classifies a book YA, and NOT content for publishers. I was rather shocked when I found that out.

Unfortunately, I also get criticized for not putting the dark stuff like that in my books....oh well.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

My daughter is now 23 and went through that stage so I completely understand about being the article being unsettling.

I began writing my YA fantasy series at my daughter's request when she was in high school. She wanted the old fashion, good fantasy like Tolkein and Lewis, nothing dark. This video explains why and what happened when I began writing.

Now published with 3 book out and 4th on the way in August, I deal with kids at events, school visits, youth groups and discover many want clean books. It is an important battle.

message 4: by TJ (new)

TJ | 6 comments Thank you, Shawn for sharing this with us. As appalling as the topic is, it is heartening to see at least one mainstream journalist picking up the conversation and siding with those of us trying to keep some semblance of innocence and goodness in our children's world.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Agreed, but I fear it will only get worse. YA fiction has deteriorated rapidly. My daughter graduated high school in 2005 and is now out of college. Most of these books have only come out since then - 6 short years.

message 6: by Janet (new)

Janet | 50 comments Mod

Thank you for the link to this article. I found it very eye opening. It's informative and helpful to know about just how truly far we have sunk. Having this information will help me to protect my family.
I don't expect every book I read to be all rainbows and ponies. In fact, even in the bible, there is evil, war, sex, betrayal, deception, etc. However, bad is never presented as good, evil is never glorified, and it is certainly never wallowed in. The scriptures would be an impossible model to live up to, (but close would be good, wouldn't it ;)) so what I look for in the books that I read, is that even if the characters struggle against evil, whether from outside themselves or from within, that the author does not portray evil as good, that it is not graphic or offensive, and that, ultimately, I feel that my reading time had enhanced my life-whether it just added pleasure, or was uplifting.
For many kids, who may have too much drama in their home lives, too much drama with friends and too much drama from the media, escaping into a book may not feel like it is intense enough to capture their imagination unless it is uber vivid. So, we as parents need to provide them with the best guidance we can, and the most loving, stable home that we can to help that guidance stick.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

You're welcome, Janet. And AMEN! to everything you said. I thank God that He blessed me with the talent to fulfill my daughter's request, which branched into a series to help other parents. I know the struggle well and feel compelled write about it. This is just one article I've done.

message 8: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 13 comments Thank you for sharing that article with us Shawn!

This is a really big passion/fearful topic of mine too. What alarmed me the most, and made me want to scream was the little poll to the side of this article. Did anyone else notice it? It asked, "Are dark themes in youth fiction helpful or harmful to teenagers?" An astounding 81% (over 900 readers) voted HELPFUL!!! I just don't get it. 81% of society thinks that stories of violence, abuse, foul language, immorality, or pathological behaviors HELP our youth?!? Crazy.

I was reading the whole thing to my husband and getting more upset by the minute. Why is the content of books considered so "sacred" that we're not allowed to even give them a rating like we do movies or video games?!? The whole thing is ludicrous to me.

And with five kids, I cannot keep up with their voracious reading. I used to read anything questionable before they did, not only to approve it, but to give us a common topic to discuss. I've fallen way behind in this, lol. That's why I'm so grateful for places like this that help me sift through the sludge of reading material before my kids do.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, yes, I not only noticed the poll I voted HARMFUL!!! So did my husband and 23 year old daughter.

The backlash has begun - with those who favor the dark theme blasting the WSJ article. I won't share those as this is upsetting enough. But I deal with this topic at every event, book signing and school I visit I make.

message 10: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments thanks for linking us to that article. in some ways, the modern YA book industry reminds me of the tobacco industry.
"it's not bad for you! it's healthy! it's normal!
we're not marketing smut to kids!" etc etc
all the while, good parents try to ensure their kids don't end up with a lifelong addiction to carcinogens.

i'm grateful to be a reader, though, because issues of finding wholesome and uplifting material is easier in print than on video or TV, imo. even with ratings.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

You're welcome, Joy. It is easier to deal with print than other media that bombards the eyes. Only this article shows that if the publishing industry has their way, it will be coming harder to find good, clean reads.

message 12: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments but isn't the world ending in october? so we're okay.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)


message 14: by Edward (new)

Edward L. (edwardlcote) | 17 comments The article is pretty disturbing. I knew it was bad, but that was surprising. I didn't really glean much of the "why" though. Apparently the publishers think that sells or they have to compete with the worst of video games like GTA 5, but it's never really spelled out as I recall.

One advantage that we have as self-published authors is that we don't have an agent or publisher telling us to "sex it up".

Are we allowed to post links here? It seems like everyone who has has been deleted. Is that just coincidence? I'm going into more depth on my thoughts on my blog. I'll post a link if I can.

message 15: by Annette (new)

Annette (AnnetteKLarsen) | 4 comments That article is disturbing to me because the publishing industry seems to be saying that it's good for kids to read disturbing content because it can help those who are going through their own kinds of hell. However, it seems to me that the more likely outcome would be for kids to start thinking that going through such terrible things is normal, or even to be expected. I worry that it would make them less likely to seek help if they found themselves in those situations because a book taught them that they can handle it on their own. I remember, so vividly, the effect that reading those kinds of books had on me when I was a teenager (and they were assigned books-thanks for that, Education System), they would alter my mood, making me feel weighed down. Is that what we want for our kids? It's so worrisome that the publishing industry thinks they they need to keep one-upping each other with more of the bad stuff. So glad to be one of many who are publishing uplifting, rather than demeaning, material.

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