Home    |     Bio    |     Books    |     DBAW Tour    |     News    |     Press    |     Events    |     Contact

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

YA Bloggers Want...Universal Stories, Great Storytelling, and Taboos: Darcy Pattison

Author Darcy Pattison, who generously shares her writing wisdom and experience at her blog, Fiction Notes, drops by today to share some gems about what she'd like to see on the YA shelf - universal stories.

(And by the way, Darcy also tipped me off that the TELL ME A SECRET trailer is a finalist in School Library Journal's first Trailie Awards! Hooray! Go check it out and vote!)

Without further ado, I welcome Darcy - and don't forget to comment for a chance to win this week's prizes!


I'm tired of vampires, self-centered & affected voices instead of great storytelling, time-shifted stories, and repeated cliches of romance and fantasy. I love books that give both sides of an issue as fairly as possible, while focusing on great storytelling. We need books set in a wider variety of places, times, cultures, and locales that still have a universal feel. I'd love to see some great new science fiction, some innovative stories set in rural or smaller metropolitan areas, and characters that make me weep and cry. And a comfortable, interesting mystery series with a great new teen detective that keeps me turning the pages. And who will finally break the last great taboo of children's literature, religion?

Darcy's YA Faves:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (see what Darcy says about it here)
I am the Messenger by Marcus Zuzak
Heart of a Shepherd by Roseanne Parry


Thank you, Darcy! (And another vote for Jenna Fox, which also happens to be one of my faves! The audiobook is amazing.)

Readers, what do you think makes a book universal? What subjects are still taboo?
Don't forget to comment for a chance to win this week's prize pack! Hooray!
(shipping to US addresses only, one comment/post - thanks!)

Ooh, and quick TMAS trailer plug - I'm so excited to be an SLJ finalist! What an honor.


  1. WOW! Congrats on being a finalist!! It's an amazing trailer and I'll be voting as soon as I'm done commenting here ;)

    I agree somewhat, but I feel a book can be universal and still have a paranormal element, it's all about the writing skill!

    (PS check out Losing Faith by Denise Jaden, which actually writes in some religioun ~gasp~ and is a fantastic read!!!)

  2. I've actually read quite a few books involving religion- The God Box by Alex Sanchez, Burned by Ellen Hopkins, The Less Dead by April Lurie. The taboo probably isn't broken just from those few novels but it's definitely on its way, I think.

    Adoration of Jenna Fox is an amazing book. It's one of my favorites too, but I don't think I listed it in my Top 5.

  3. I can see why religion would be "taboo" - adults can think and read and make their own decisions, but most parents don't want anyone influencing their kids on the subject of religion.

    This is a great blog, so I've given you an award (I've been lurking for a while). Check it out at www.ishtamercurio.blogspot.com

  4. Congrats on the TMAS video!! I voted for it!

    I just read an article, recently by an author who wrote about his main character being a Christian, and the publicist didn't want that included in the final copy. They said that it would be pegged as a Christian book and wouldn't sell as well, unless Christianity was shown in a negative light. He said that there wasn't anything overly religious about his book, but that his character just happened to be a Christian. I found that interesting.


  5. I think it's more like religion is really hard to handle well, regardless of whether you're writing YA or whatnot. I think having a character or two who are sometimes religious is easier to swallow than having a book that centers on religious issues, in the way that books do about other topics.

    I even have a hard time with books that are gay-themed - it's like centering a book on the issue or orientation rather than on the story of the characters who, like was said above, just happen to be gay. I'm rambling though so I'll leave!

  6. I totally understand why religion can be taboo. It's a taboo topic in my school for everyone who isn't outgoing enough to mention. I feel like it's the same way for books. I get a thrill reading about a book about a different religion because compared to romances or fantasy, they're so much harder to find.

  7. Yes, religion is a fun topic now a days. I remember when Christmas break turned into Winter Break.

    I have a hard time with annoying main characters, but that's about it. I can't stand whiney girls and tend to steer away from books that contain them.

  8. i absolutely love the trailer. congrats on being a finalist :)

    a book is universal because topics and issues discussed in books are universal topics--like sex, alcoholism, death, religion, family relationships, societal roles--all of which can be taboo topics.

  9. Congrats on being a finalist Holly. Great post Darcy. I'm so excited that I'll be seeing Darcy at the Michigan SCBWI conference this weekend.

    I think for kids a book is universal when it deals with things they are interested in while also addresses issues they face in every day life. Harry Potter comes to mind.

  10. I'm definitely going to have to check out The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I've been hearing so much about it.

  11. For me a book is universal when the core story is something everyone is looking for. Love, friendship, parental guidance.

    As for taboo...9/11 and terrorism still seems a topic that has to be handled *very* carefully. On the one hand you don't want to make light of what terrorists do (or believe in), but you also don't want to belittle what happened to those during 9/11 and the aftermath. Its a tough line I think to handle.

  12. I loved the different story and voice in Jenna Fox!

  13. Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments! Sorry I didn't comment yesterday, I was on a plane for half the day coming home from a wedding, but I think this is a fascinating discussion and am glad Darcy brought it up. Religion is a very delicate subject in this day and age, especially when personal faith is often very different from how a religion is perceived as a whole (I know that is true for me). I think it would be very interesting to see more books explore that. I've heard great things about Denise's book and am looking forward to reading it!

  14. Congrats on the trailer! We had a discussion in class about religion and I agree with others: religion is a hard topic to write about and to handle.

  15. Wow, universal? I’m not sure any book can reach that height ofaccesability in the human phsyce.
    I don’t think a universal book can be written, not in today’s world to say the least.
    What is taboo? Well, I think many YA authors choose to slick with cliché charicatures of their own characters in order to feed the masses. I guess reality is kind of taboo, maybe even heroines where buying a prom dress is the least of their worries is difficult for some, is taboo.
    What an interesting thought, I think if you had a universal story with nothing taboo, or else all things are accepted by one, complete, general public, I think that the end of the world would be fast approaching, to be truthful.
    Gabrielle Carolina

  16. I would also love to see some stories written with rural or smaller metropolitan settings. Especially the midwest. (I'm looking at you, John Green!)

  17. To me, a universal book is one that exposes or relates some sort of truth. The characters will ring true, the plot will ring true, the emotions will ring true. Truth makes readers listen and care because it erases that fourth wall...like in stage acting. When there's truth, the audience cannot help but relate to the characters. Books like Of Mice and Men, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Ellen Hopkins books do this. They are filled with truth. And they are widely read and loved because of it.

  18. I think a universal book has something that reaches out to everyone. Whether its one of the characters or the overall plot, in some way it calls out to people. Kind of like 1984 and Farenheit 451 they both reach out to people.

    truthbetold004 at gmail dot com