Saturday, September 29, 2012

Brian Farrey Guest Post + Giveaway

Brian Farrey Guest Post + Giveaway

I would like to introduce Brian Farrey to BookSnob readers.  Brian is an excellent Young Adult author and he is currently the Author in the Spotlight here for the month of September.  His book With or Without You won the Minnesota book award in the Spring for best YA fiction.  He has written a guest post about his "cool" job as a editor for Flux.

Brian Farrey Guest Post

As an editor who acquires young adult fiction, I’m required to keep my thumb firmly on the pulse of the market. In short, I have to read lots and lots of YA books.

I’m sure you feel massive waves of pity for this horrendous burden I bear.

I still feel an odd thrill to peruse the bookshelves and discover a writer, a new voice who I think is doing something really interesting within the genre. Too often, when people talk about trends in YA, they mean “the next big thing.” Vampires? Werewolves? Radioactive gnomes with rocket launchers on their backs? Frankly, it’s all hooey. The next big thing will always—ALWAYS—be strong writing that resonates. In particular, the next big thing will be people doing new and interesting things.

So I thought I’d discuss a few writers and books I feel are exploring the genre’s potentially in really vibrant ways. (I won’t be discussing any of the authors I’ve acquired because that would be like asking me which of my children are my favorite and I can’t do that.)

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King—Full disclosure: Amy’s first book, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was published by Flux, where I work. (But it was acquired by my predecessor.) That book, in itself, was a revelation. Since then, Amy has worked with other publishers on her Printz honor book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Everybody Sees the Ants. What I love about Amy is that she’s a risk taker. She’s not afraid to mess with narrative structure and push the envelope in terms of technique. For example. Vera Dietz is told from the point of view of Vera, her dead best friend, Vera’s father (who speaks primarily in flow charts), and a pagoda in Vera’s hometown. Yes. A pagoda—a building—has a point of view. And it works. Gloriously. Everybody Sees the Ants is a contemporary story that explores the ideas of bullying, parental relationships, and the Vietnam War in an imaginative and occasionally heartbreaking way. Amy pulls from so many ideas that, on the surface, don’t appear to relate. But she finds the connections. She draws from one dot to the next, showing you how a boy in 2011 who is being bullied is somehow tied to his grandfather, an MIA POW in Vietnam. And it all makes sense. And you never doubt her for a second.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith—I’m a sucker for dark books. If everything isn’t all neatly tied up at the end, if we’re left with a sense that all is not right with the world by book’s end, if the ending is depressing as hell, I’m there. I don’t mind happy endings. But I find books that explore the darker side of human nature in a really intelligent way to be more fulfilling for me. Dunno why. And Andrew does dark like nobody else I can think of. This book got under my skin and set up residence in my brain. I couldn’t shake it for a long time. It was one of those books where, upon finishing, I immediately went out and bought everything he’d ever written (lucky for my wallet, this was only his third book). The sequel, Passenger, is coming out in early October. I am simultaneously excited and horrified at the prospect, but I can’t wait to return to the world behind the lens again.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness—Reading a book by Patrick Ness is like being told a story by the smartest person you know, but they don’t necessarily know how smart they are so there’s nothing pretentious about it at all and you never feel condescended to.  Like Amy, Patrick likes to play with narrative technique and voice. His Chaos Walking trilogy is one of the best examples of creative voice that I can think of in recent literature.  What I really love about Patrick’s work—his smart work—is that he sneaks up on you. There’s no telling where things are going. He’s a hypnotist, in many ways. Or an illusionist, who keeps you focused on the left hand while the right hand is doing all the magic.  He gets deep but you never realize how deep until you’re already up to your neck in a brilliant story. 

Really, if you’re looking for something new and challenging, you could do a lot worse than to pick up any of these three writers.  I know these are three masters I’ll be returning to—and learning from—for a long time to come.

Thanks Brian! I have not read any of these books so I plan to add them to holiday wish list.  
If you are interested in winning a copy of Brian's book, With or Without You please enter here: