YA Wednesday: BEA and the Trouble With Mary Sue
Other potentially exciting YA/kids-related events:
Friday, 2 p.m., BEA Young Adult Editor's Buzz, with editors from Arthur A. Levine books, Disney/Hyperion, Delacorte, First Second Books, Feiwel & Friends, and Harper Collins Children's Books.
Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Cassie Clare (The Mortal Instruments series) and Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan)
Saturday, 2 p.m., YA Authors of YA Editor's buzz, which looks like it may include Laini Taylor (Lips Touch), Sarwat Chadda (The Devil's Kiss), James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Danica Novgorodoff (illustrator of Refresh, Refresh), Jill S. Alexander (The Sweatheart of Prosper County), and Adriana Trigiani (Viola in Reel Life).
What's a Mary Sue?
Crossover, a newish blog by Kelly Herold (Big A, Little a), kicked off with the most obvious crossover hit, Twilight. A ton of YA authors and bloggers joined in the discussion of why the series appeals to grown-ups, and children's author Kelly Fineman sparked further talk with her "Mary Sue" remark:
"What makes [the Twilight novels] work is the very Mary Sue main character, Bella Swan, who is the reader's proxy in the books. She's clumsy and awkward and whiny, yet still manages to charm all the boys, including Edward Cullen. And once she vamps out midway through Book 4, she vampires better than anyone else. She's living the dream - ordinary girl who attracts extraordinary things, and ends up being the Very Best Vampire Ever with Extra-Special Powers."Gail Gauthier, who is not a fan of Mary Sue, responds on her blog with "How Do I Avoid Writing Mary Sue?":
If I stay away from romance, will Mary Sue characters stay away from me? If I don't write about anyone over the age of thirteen will I be safe? What if I use male main characters? Will that work?
Author Tanita Davis (Mare's War) comments:
...when I know I'm protecting a character by making her a mixture of Clark Kent and Captain Americana, I know I'm Mary Sue-ing, and I have to draw up those mental divorce papers all over again.Blogger Liz B. (from Tea Cozy) adds:
When does my Mary Sue radar go off? When the character is "too perfect" and idealized. It doesn't mean they are perfect--just that everyone in the story sees them as so. When all the boys fall in love for no apparent reason. When there are characteristics that don't add up to a character (for example, Bella's clumsiness to make her 'normal'). When there is a "tragic backstory" that has little or nothing to do with the plot or character except to have other characters/reader learn about it, feel sorry for the person, and somehow that sorry translated into liking the person.
The Guardian announces their Children's Fiction Prize longlist, including Terry Pratchett's Nation and, one of the books I'm most looking forward to this year, Siobhan Dowd's Solace of the Road, which comes out in the U.S. this October. The short list will be announced in September, and the winner on October 8.
John Green goes to Australia.