YA Author Spotlight


M. T. Anderson
This Boston author is writing his way through a variety of genres. He's written Thirsty, a story about a teen who becomes a vampire; Burger Wuss, a humorous account of a boy who causes a battle between two competing fast-food restaurants; Feed, a realistic tale of a future when people have electronic implants in their brains to control their thoughts and actions; and The Game of Sunken Places, the story of two friends who get caught up in a fantasy game of life and death. 

Sidenote: in preparation for his acclaimed novel Feed, Anderson listened in on cell phone conversations in malls!

Joan Bauer
Joan Bauer, author of quite a few realistic fiction pieces, has won a Newbery Honor Award (for Hope Was Here) and has an extensive website with everything from faqs about her and her books to enhanced reading guides. Her titles include Backwater, a wilderness adventure about finding truth and self and ancestry; Rules of the Road, the story of a shoe salesgirl who discovers the difference remarkable people can make in our lives; and Stand Tall, the tale of Tree and his family and the purpose they find in memories and trials. From waitressing to selling shoes to playing pool to getting hit by cupid to growing giant pumpkins, Joan Bauer writes with honesty, wit, and insight.

Francesca Lia Block 
Winner of the 2005 Margaret A Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in teen literature, Francesca Lia Block is renowned for her edgy, contemporary writings that translate gritty teen life in all its beauty and ugliness into otherworldly, funky fairy tales. Perhaps best known for her ground-breaking Weetzie Bat series, Block also has other collections of short stories and novels that deal with complex family relationships, traditional folklore archetypes, urban environs, passions, demons, glitz, and more. 

Kate Constable 
Growing up overlooking Ferntree Gully National Park, on the outskirts of Melbourne Australia, where there were bosques of gumtrees, mountainside views, and hordes of colorful birds flying through the gardens, Kate Constable then moved to Papua New Guinea, where there was no television and only a small library. At an early age she began to form the ideas and imagination that would later influence her Chanters of Tremaris trilogy - after she realized that she wasn't well suited to the world of lawyers and would rather be a writer! For more information on this author and her books, visit www.kateconstable.com.

Robert Cormier
Perhaps best known for his potent book The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier is an author whose books reflect the good and evil found in humanity. From our own side of the world, Cormier was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, where he lived his entire life. He was a newspaper reporter and was often inspired by news events, using the circumstances for the plots of his books - especially circumstances of intimidation and abuse of power. Cormier's interests included jazz, movies, and travel; his favorite authors include Graham Greene, Thomas Wolfe, and J.D. Salinger. He passed away in November 2000, leaving a legacy of compelling young adult novels.

Chris Crutcher
Chris grew up in Cascade, Idaho, playing sports and testing the patience of the townsfolk with his insatiable curiosity. Now, he's an author, a teacher and a family therapist-a combination that makes for real writing. Discovering the humor in life, as well as the tragedy and sorrow, Chris Crutcher doesn't sugarcoat the truth; instead, he writes with pure honesty. Crutcher's books have won many awards, including the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Intellectual Freedom Award. His books also often appear on banned-book lists. 

Sarah Dessen
Growing up with two parents who were professors at Chapel Hill, receiving an old typewriter and a little desk setup in the corner of her room for writing, studying creative writing at college, and working at the Flying Burrito Restaurant instead of pursuing a "real job," Sarah Dessen published her first novel 3 years after college graduation: That Summer. Since then, she has published more young adult novels, has taken a teaching position at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has moved out of her ramshackle house to the country, where she has a garden, a husband, a couple of dogs, some lizards, and many pairs of black pants (often purchased from the GAP clearance racks). She's a pretty popular author around these parts - take a look at her books! Visit her website: www.sarahdessen.com.

Jean Ferris
Though she has tried writing everything from screenplays to adult mysteries, Jean Ferris' true love is writing for teens. She's been writing since she was seven - loads and loads of short stories and novels. After a lonely childhood, during which books were her comfort and eavesdropping and watching people supplied ideas for her diary and stories, Ferris attended Stanford to pursue a degree in speech pathology and audiology but she always took an English class when time allowed, and writing remained her passion. However, publishing her stories didn't occur to her until her husband began to worry about all the boxes accumulating under their bed! Ferris has written a number of books covering a variety of topics: the fairy tale Once Upon a Marigold; the coming out of a gay friend at rodeo school in Eight Seconds; the trials of being a sign-language interpreter in Of Sound Mind; the scheming and comedic story Love Among the Walnuts....

Nancy Farmer
After growing up in a hotel on the Arizonan/Mexican border, teaching chemistry, working in Mozambique as an entomologist (someone who studies insects), and then moving to Zimbabwe (where she met her husband), Nancy Farmer has an intriguing range of experiences that influence the writing of her books. Most of her books take place in Africa - and often a futuristic Africa with such things as cloning (House of the Scorpion) or mutants (Ear, the Eye, and the Arm). Most recently she has written a book that takes place in Scandinavia with the Vikings and berserkers (Sea of Trolls). But no matter where her books take the reader, one can always be assured of a culturally exciting trip and gripping tale of adventure.

Neil Gaiman 
Novels, graphic novels, youth novels, picture books - Neil Gaiman writes it all. You may be familiar with his Sandman cult comics series (in Adult), or perhaps you have read the spooky Coraline (in YA and Children's), or the strange underground tale of Neverwhere (in YA), or maybe you're looking forward to seeing MirrorMask; each is fantastically written, stuffed with imagination and dashed with a splash of obscure darkness. Born and raised in England, Gaiman has won numerous awards for his writing. If you're looking for an engrossing read outside of the range of normalcy, pick up one of his books. Want more info? Visit his website: www.neilgaiman.com.

Anthony Horowitz
London-born, nanny-raised, boarding-school-schooled Anthony Horowitz has a background rich in eccentricity and mystery -- a birthday gift of a human skull; the sudden death of his father; a missing family fortune. After an unhappy childhood that made James Bond his favorite source of escapism, Horowitz signed his first book deal with a publicist at age 22 and has been writing ever since -- television shows, screenplays, and plenty of books. 

With crime and intrigue on the mind, his best-known books for teens are in the Alex Rider series, in which Alex, 14, is reluctantly recruited to be a spy for Britain after his uncle is killed in the service. Horowitz also writes the Diamond Brothers series, which mixes mystery and humor, and has a new series coming out which begins with The Raven's Gate. If you're looking for spy gadgets, action-adventure, intrigue, and mystery, Anthony Horowitz is a prime suspect for your reading enjoyment!

Kathe Koja
This month I'm featuring up-and-coming Kathe Koja, author of Straydog, Buddha Boy, and Blue Mirror - 3 potent books under 120 pages each. Kathe Koja lives in the Detroit area with husband, son, and cats, and has won the Bram Stoker award for some of her adult fiction. Come to the library and check out one of her books!

Robin McKinley
Robin McKinley is probably best known for her delightful adaptations of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty, and Rose Daughter, but these comprise only a fraction of her wonderful fantasy writings featuring adventurous female protagonists. Her original tale The Hero and the Crown, won a Newbery Award, and its prequel, The Blue Sword, was awarded a Newbery Honor; she has retold the Sleeping Beauty story (Spindle's End) and the Robin Hood legend (Outlaws of Sherwood), and most recently has branched out into a vampire tale (Sunshine). 

Inspired by The Little Princess, married to the English author Peter Dickinson, and making her home with whippets, rosebushes, and books galore, Robin McKinley is a must-read for fantasy & adventure lovers.

Walter Dean Myers
A super-popular author for teens, Walter Dean Myers has always been a writer. Growing up with foster parents who taught him to read and told him stories, Myers learned to love reading - anything he could get his hands on - magazines, comic books, Bible stories, library books.... In school, Myers had behavioral problems that resulted from a speech difficulty - no one could understand what he was saying; so, in order to be understood, he began to write. Despite dropping out of high school to join the army, having no self-confidence and few skills, Myers continued writing and has become quite an acclaimed author, with many books, articles, stories, and awards to his name.

William Sleator
With over twenty-five novels to his credit, as well as some short stories, William Sleator is one of the most prolific and popular science fiction writers for teens. His best-known titles include Oddballs, House of Stairs, Among the Dolls, Interstellar Pig, and The Boxes. After writing his first story at the prime age of six, he has continued writing ever since; most recently he published The Boy Who Couldn't Die - about a boy who becomes a zombie. 

Splitting his time between Boston and Bangkok, William Sleator does "a lot of serious cooking" and writes full time. He said: "I shouldn't ever run out of ideas - knock on wood - since the universe is full of great things like strange attractors and the Mandelbrot set. I still can't get over the fact that time slows down in the presence of a gravitational field. It really does, you know. That's not science fiction. It's a fact."

Doug Tennapel
For our first graphic novel feature, I'm highlighting Doug Tennapel. He definitely has a bold and innovative style that's different than your typical super-hero or manga samplings (that we all know and love!). The first of his books that we own is Creature Tech, a story that explores science, faith, and social acceptance in striking black and white. The second book,  relatively new to our collection, is Tommysaurus Rex, a poignant account of a boy and his dog - and his dinosaur. For intelligent stories accompanied by wonderful illustrations, try a sampling of Doug Tennapel.






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Updated on 09/01/2015 09:10 AM
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