In Which the Author Babbles and Then Offers a Dance as Penance

First, a couple links: a recent beautiful Astronomy Picture of the Day; and, if you happen to be a Battlestar Galactica fan, a recent segment from NPR’s Weekend Edition all about the music of BSG. (Ahem. But please don’t leave any Season 4 spoilers in the comments, because I’m only partway through the season. ^_^)

Second, I give notice: my blogging is apt to be spotty over the next few weeks as my move takes place. Monday the guy with the big truck comes to pick up the stuff. What happens next — and when — depends entirely on the schedule of the guy in the truck. We’re rolling with it, people. Uncertainty is FUN! Sigh…

Third, a recent interesting FAQ:

You’ve mentioned that an adult edition of Graceling is available in the U.K., Australia, and the Netherlands, and is scheduled to be published in France. Is there an adult version of Graceling available in North America?

The “adult” British edition of Graceling and the “young adult” American edition of Graceling are identical, word-for-word, except that in the British edition, of course, my American English has been Britishized. (I.e., “armor” is spelled “armour,” double quotes become single quotes, and a few distinctively American words have been changed to the British equivalents.) And, the exact same Dutch translation is used for both the YA and adult editions in the Netherlands. I’m not sure what will happen in France, but I assume the two French editions will also match.

What makes Graceling YA in North America is that it happened to be purchased and published by a children’s imprint (Harcourt Children’s Books) in North America. What makes Graceling adult in the U.K. is that it happened to be purchased and published by an adult fantasy imprint (Gollancz) in the U.K.. The covers and design are different, and might reflect the different ages to which the books are supposedly marketed — but, ironically, my Dutch publisher uses the American YA cover for their adult edition and the British adult cover for their YA edition, because the feeling in the Netherlands is that the dagger works best for older readers and the girl-with-sword works best for younger readers.

(left to right: American young adult cover; British adult cover; Dutch young adult cover; Dutch adult cover)

I guess you could say that my book is a crossover of sorts. My American agent focused on submitting the book to YA imprints, because books like Graceling tend to land YA publishers here at home. But my European agent got some bites from adult imprints — so, there you have it! If the emails I receive are any indication, readers of all ages read both editions.

Of course, this whole thing brings up the messy question of the difference between YA and adult lit. This is one of my least favorite questions, because I don’t entirely believe in the distinction — or, more accurately, I don’t believe in ranking adult lit above YA lit (or any other children’s lit) when it comes to literary merit, which most people seem to do without even thinking about it. It’s the same as the genre question. We all know that sci fi (or horror or romance or mysteries or whatever) and serious literary fiction are mutually exclusive categories, right? WRONG. Anyway. What I won’t do here is try to define YA literature by its content (though I am happy to send you to a recent post on The Horn Book blog, where Roger Sutton got into it a little bit. Also, check out the comments in this post. The YA v. adult question is one you can find people haggling about all over the Internet, if you do a little searching).

What I hope I have done is explain that ultimately, in the publishing world, the (sometimes arbitrary) distinction depends on things like what imprints pick the book up; the way the book is designed, marketed, and publicized; and where in the library/bookstore the book can be found. But regardless of whether the edition is adult or young adult, the words in the book are the same. Make sense?

FYI, when I write, I am not assuming any particular audience age. I just write.

I think I just beat that question pretty much into the ground.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a reward: a great dance from last week’s SYTYCD. Karla (contemporary jazz) and Jonathan (salsa) dancing contemporary, choreographed by Stacey Tookey. Check it out — it’s worth 2 minutes of your day!