Last year I had the opportunity to interview the brilliant Bookish Ruth for BBAW. After submitting my request to be partnered again this year, I waited with bated breath to find out who my latest interview partner would be. I am pleased to introduce you to Adele from Persnickety Snark. She is every bit as charming and friendly as you might guess from reading her blog. So, after this interview, hurry on over to check out Persnickety Snark!
Wendy: I like that you focus quite a bit on Australian YA. It really does seem like an underrepresented area. Can you share a little about your experience in choosing to blog about books, particularly YA books?
Adele: I am an English teacher and so my exposure to books is part of the job. That being said, I wouldn't teach English if I didn't love reading in the first place! The reason for YA review blogging was two-part; 1) bring more attention to the talented Australian YA authors and 2) receive review copies to supply my school's minuscule library. It's been successful on both counts but seeing my student's smile as they pore over the new books that arrive is the best part of blogging.
Wendy: What has been one of the highlights for you as a teacher, helping instill the love of reading in your students?
Adele: That's a tough question as every time you see them make that connection, or that "a-ha" moment, is a highlight. However, reading The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) with my grade eight class last term was fantastic. My students are all ESL (English as a Second Language) so a 400+ page book was enormously intimidating for them and yet within two chapters they were reading ahead of the class. They are now hanging out for the release of Catching Fire - not bad for "reluctant readers".
Wendy: I love the title of your blog. It's catchy and memorable (it should have won the award for Best Blog Title, if you ask me). How did you come to choose that name?
Adele: Thanks so much Wendy!
It's not so evident in my review writing but in person I can be quite snarky, so it was an immediate choice. Persnickety is my favourite word - it just sounds deliciously prickly and apparently I can be a snob. Together they sound like perfection, even if they aren't an accurate representation of my review style.
Wendy: Besides reading and books, what are some of your other interests, hobbies or passions?
Adele: I was a huge podcaster until Persnickety Snark became more time consuming than I anticipated. I was the host of a podcast called Fringe Dwellers that discussed each week's episode of FOX's Fringe. I love discussing my thoughts on any mode of storytelling whether television, movies or novels and being able to do that through the Internet is enormously rewarding. I loved editing as well but it took a huge amount of time and it eventually came down to a choice between Psnark and Fringe Dwellers.
I am a huge movie buff - specifically teen movies of the Hughes era and forward. I am such a huge fan of YA that it makes sense that the cinematic storytelling of teen experience would also grab my interest. The Breakfast Club is one of my favourite films of all time!
Wendy: What types of books do you like to read outside of YA or do you solely read YA books?
Adele: Sadly I don't really have the time to read outside of YA. I read my first non-review title in nine months last week and it was great. I am lucky to receive so many review copies so I feel guilty if I am not placing my whole attention on them. I am itching to re-read Stephen King's The Stand though, it's one of my faves alongside Austen's Pride and Prejudice. On the bright side, YA covers all genres and rocks so I am sitting pretty.
Wendy: Labels have their purpose, but they also can be very misleading. In the blogosphere, there has been a debate recently (and probably for a lot longer than that) about what constitutes a YA book. Some believe it is a marketing tool while others rank it as a genre or category of book. As a teacher and someone who focuses mostly on YA literature, what do you think qualifies as a YA book?
Adele: I might be oversimplifying it but I tend to think that YA literature is that which focuses on a teen protagonist and their perspective of the world regardless of setting. I do agree that it had increasingly becoming a marketing tool but anything that gets young people to read is a GOOD thing. It's for this reason that I can't begrudge Twilight too much as many teens have reacquainted themselves with reading.
Wendy: To the adult reader who is looking to try YA fiction for the first time or perhaps someone like me who is still testing the waters, what would you recommend?
Adele: I would start by searching blogs for reviews of books or authors you enjoy and see what that blogger also likes. Usually you can match your own tastes with another blogger - Jenny at Wondrous Reads is my reading twin (though she doesn't know it.)
Meg Cabot is the Queen of YA for a reason - I would start with some of her older titles eg Teen Idol and the Mediator Series. Melina Marchetta and Simmone Howell are great contemporary Australian YA novelists and can transcend international time zones. I love Lisa Ann Sandell's Song of the Sparrow as it mixes Arthurian legend, beautiful characterisation and the most exquisite free verse you've ever had the pleasure to drink in. In terms of new releases you can't go wrong with Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars, Gayle Forman's If I Stay or Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters.
Wendy: Who are some of your favorite Australian authors?
Adele: Those who are familiar with Psnark know that I have a fierce love of Melina Marchetta's work. Her debut title, Looking for Alibrandi came out when I was eleven and I have been a captive audience ever since. Marchetta won this year's Printz Award for her fantastically complex, intriguing and utterly magnificent Jellicoe Road.
Some names that you should know - John Marsden, James Roy, Anthony Eaton, Simmone Howell, Lili Wilkinson, Kathy Charles, Kirsty Murray, Shaun Tan...there are too many to mention :)
Wendy: So, have you decided yet? Is it Team Unicorn or Team Zombie?
Adele: Nope...is there a third choice? Like Team Winged Monkey? I'd be on that team faster than you could say Justine Larbalestier!
Wendy: I do have one bone to pick with you. How can you not like bananas? Seriously though, what is your favorite fruit since it is obviously not bananas?
Adele: As a toddler I apparently glutted myself on bananas, as a response I can no longer smell them without feeling extremely ill. My students know this and torment me!
I am rather partial to the humble grape - ideally Pacey (Dawson's Creek) would feed them to me by hand as Ben (Felicity) would fan me with palm fronds :D
Wendy: Thank you, Adele, for taking the time to answer my questions!
Don't you just love her? If you haven't yet, do stop by and visit Adele at Persnickety Snark. Also, if you are interested, head over to read Adele's interview with me.
© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
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