Friday, 6 July 2012

Young Adult Books Interrogation with Guest Book Blogger Paula Hardman from PaulaSHx

This week our guest at the Edge is Paula Hardman who has been blogging about books at PaulaSHx since the start of January 2011. On the blog Paula describes herself as a blogger, book reviewer, social media addict, beta reader, aspiring writer and Harley Davidson lover – amongst other things!

Originally from Brazil, Paula came to the UK aged seventeen, intending to study English and Photography for three years and then return home to finish a degree in Journalism. Needless to say, it didn't quite go according to plan. She blames her husband for the fact she is still here. "I had no plans of having a beautiful little girl in this trip either, but I like it better this way. Life's curves made my life complete!"

Over the coming months we will be inviting a number of book bloggers to guest here at the Edge. Huge thanks to Paula for volunteering to be the first to undergo the Edge interrogation. So, without further ado, lets shine that light and let the questions begin … 

Paula, WHY do you read and write about Young Adult books? 
I love YA Books! Your teens might be a little traumatic, but they are also the years when you start finding out about adult life - falling in love, discovering who you are and what you can do - without the responsibilities of actually being an adult. When I read YA it evokes all those feelings and memories in me and I enjoy reminiscing about my younger years when things were more dramatic, but simpler.

What are the most ORIGINAL YA books that you have read?
Oh! This is a hard one as most of the books I have read recently are following trends while giving it their own twist. I would have to say: The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare – she walks the fine line in between all fairy tales and different religions while creating her own very different world; Mercy series by Rebecca Lim – a very interesting take on angels and a double story as in every book Mercy must discover who she is as well as help the life she’s inhabiting for the moment; and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr – a very political take on fairy courts and love.

What is a TURN OFF in YA fiction?
A very slow pace or events that are so unrealistic you are left scratching your head and asking: “seriously?”

What makes for a GREAT YA book?
Convincing tension, romance, characters and action. I like when an author tells me there are cats raining from the sky, but he/she does it so convincingly, that I actually believe it’s plausible. I also like finding out the backstory while the action in the present plot is still going on - when the pace slows too much to fill you in I usually lose interest.

Which YA characters would you most like to take OUT TO DINNER and why?
I am a girl, so I will have to say Seth Morgan from Wicked Lovely – the alternative but extremely clever and wise sort – and Cole St.Clair from Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls – the bad boy with brains.

Who is your ideal YA HERO / HEROINE and why?
I like strong female leads, girls who can hold their own and kick butt, so I adore Isabel Culpeper from Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls and Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. They are not the main characters on any of these books, but I sympathise with them as we have the same attitude and way of thinking. I’m a little sceptical, sarcastic and straight to the point like they are.

What is your dream YA ROMANTIC PAIRING and why?
Cole St.Clair and Isabel Culpeper (Wolves of Mercy Falls) – they are both fighting their demons and finding their feet. And while they are both really messed up, their dramatic and complicated relationship actually helps them work through their issues. It’s realistic, you know? Real relationships are not perfect and this one isn’t either.

What makes you uncomfortable or question THE BOUNDARIES of YA?
When things become too graphic. And it’s not just YA, this could also apply to adult books. I think the magic of a book lays on letting the reader imagine half of the scene themselves, so they ride the book with you. When you are a teen, you are discovering all sorts of things about yourself - that includes principals, sexuality, beliefs and boundaries- and it would be unrealistic of a book talking about teens not to tackle that to some extent. That is not to say that it can’t be done with taste and touch. Swearing, for example - if added at the right scene, it enhances the mood or the character’s reaction. If dropped in constantly to replace another word, it’s just rude. A heavy making-out session in between characters is another one – we all know the chase is a lot more interesting than actually winning the game. It’s the tension of flirting that gives you the butterflies, not characters that can’t leave each other’s faces alone.

What would you LIKE to see happening in YA fiction over the next five years?
I would love to see YA treated with a little more respect. It’s a genre like many others. It annoys me when you tell people you read YA and they say: “Oh, I read proper fiction.” You have to read what rocks your boat, and YA rocks mine.

What do you think will ACTUALLY BE the next big thing in YA?
It sounds like there is a whole undead thing going on at the moment. Historical Fiction also seems to be getting stronger, but I really like the ones about real life issues (Edge Authors), if done properly, they can be really interesting, helpful and raise awareness for the issues.

Give us your TOP FIVE YA/Teen books.
In no particular order: Mercy series by Rebecca Lim, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins, and Sabado a Noite by Babi Dewet (this is a Brazilian author and the book is so far only written in Portuguese).
(And no, we didn't bribe Paula to include one of our Edge authors in her list!)

If you read one book this year, read THIS … 
This is not actually a new book, but The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. It works on two levels: If you read it to a child, it’s about the adventures of an alien prince. If you read in between the lines, it’s a serious critique on society and its priorities. My favourite quotes are:

“Grown-ups like numbers… If you tell grown-ups, ‘I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof…,’ they won’t be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, ‘I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs.’ Then they exclaim, ‘What a pretty house!’”

“In those days, I didn’t understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life. I should never have run away! I ought to have realised the tenderness underlying her silly pretensions. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her.”

Thanks very much to Paula for being our guest and providing some great answers to our questions. Be sure to take a trip over to PaulaSHx for some great reviews and much more besides.

You can also follow Paula on Twitter @PaulaSHx

If you would be interested in submitting to interrogation, or have something you'd like to say about teen and young adult books, send an email to edgewritersATyahooDOTcoDOTuk. Thanks.

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