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Monday, March 21, 2011

Featured Title: THE JULIAN GAME, by Adele Griffin

Hello, readergirlz!
This month we're talking Risk-taking on the blog, and today we're lucky enough to have Adele Griffin, author of the amazing Julian Game, with us.

(*Side note - that blue wig Raye wears is amazing - I'm thinking future Halloween costume, for sure.)
If you haven't read this book yet, move it to the top of your pile! Don't believe me? Here's what Booklist has to say about Julian

"Raye Archer is warily thrilled when Ella, queen bee at her tony new school, enlists her to seek revenge against gorgeous heartbreaker Julian. With pictures of Raye in a blue wig and slinky top, they create a fictitious online profile (so different from Raye’s low-key, real-life persona); lure Julian into a relationship; and act out Ella’s vindictive schemes. The results are predictable: in online chats, Raye falls for Julian, confesses their deceit, and faces Ella’s full-force campaign of vitriolic harassment. Griffin elevates the mean-girl plot with spot-on insights into teen social politics and quirky, multidimensional characters, including troubled, OCD Ella... [Her] timely cautionary messages about online communication, including its permanence (“One stupid picture could swing back around and punch me when I’m 30 years old”), are never too heavy-handed, and her themes about the appeal of reinventing oneself, the frightening power of manipulation, the futility of revenge, and the true meaning of friendship are timeless."

I'm so excited to have Adele blogging with us today!

Forgive Me Not: Confessions of a Semi-Apologist

 I’ve got a problem with sorry. I use it too much. If someone elbows me in the CVS: “Oh, gosh—sorry!” If I need directions: “I’m sorry to ask, but which way is Brooklyn?” If there’s a problem with my entrĂ©e: “So sorry, there seems to be a dead rat in this Bolognese.”

“Sorry” is a bad habit, and an old one. So I guess I’ll blame my childhood. Anyone raised by a single, working parent knows that the excuses start early. Like not enough cash: “Sorry, I’ll bring in my field trip money next week.” Or one car-one-driver: “Sorry I’m late, my brother needed his headgear refitted.” And, of course, the absent father: “Sorry, can I borrow your Dad to (fill in the blank ten thousand times)?”

Yet that same childhood is why I took risks. If my presence was an inconvenience, then it also needed to matter. From grade school on, I was a compulsive contest-contender, queued up for the spelling bee or bug-eyed for the essay competition. Show me the plaque, the prize, or the spot for my name, and I was probably scheming to grab it.

Some novelists are obvious risk-takers; others don’t wear it on the outside. But who cares how you get there? What counts is the plunge, the air beneath your feet as you leap into the unknown. I still get knee-jerk guilt each time I force life into a nasty character or make an unsettling plot choice. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my writing life, it’s that the apology can’t lead the way. In fiction, I know that to risk wisely is also to chart a direction toward my most creative possibilities. My advice? Fear the risk, then risk it, anyway—and land that story with plenty of punch, no apologies, and no regrets.

Adele Griffin
March, 2011

Well-said! Writers need to take risks in order to create fiction that matters, and Griffin does so to great effect with The Julian Game!

(*That pic above is Adele at the Standard Hotel in NYC - a backdrop ripe for risk-taking. But she's  saving her best vacation stories for her next visit to the blog...)

What I love best about Julian is that Raye takes a risk - but ultimately finds the strength to face the consequences of her behavior, too. 

Thanks again for joining us, Adele! Now, tell us, readergirlz - who are some of your favorite risk-takers in YA lit?


Lorie Ann Grover said...

I love this line:

Fear the risk, then risk it, anyway—and land that story with plenty of punch, no apologies, and no regrets.

Brava, Adele!

I think of Libba Bray's risk with Going Bovine after her successful fantasy series. Thankfully, she risked changing genres!

Melissa Walker said...

Yes, and Libba won the Printz with her risk! And now she's stranding Beauty Queens on an island. I love her.

I also think of Lauren Oliver and BEFORE I FALL--it's certainly a risk to have a character relive the same day, but she did it so well!

Adele's insights are great, and they make me want to make the writing I'm working on more daring.

Sara Z. said...

Adele Griffin is one of my favorite writers and a career idol... If anyone reading this is unfamiliar with her work, GET ON IT!

Micol Ostow said...

Libba is a GREAT example of how risky writing can pay off. "Write what scares you, what you fear you cannot write" is an adage that comes up again and again at Vermont College.

adelegriffin said...

Lorie Ann -- Such a good call on Going Bovine as the ultimate tightrope of risk. I remember reading it and having to check the back flap-- "wait, the Gemma Doyle books, they were ... but this is ... !!" It was a really incredible departure.

Melissa-- I will not end 2011 having not read Before I Fall. It's on my Gotta list.

Sara Z.-- aw, shucks. *scuffling boot-tip, blushing*

Micol-- not to mention taking on the Manson case! your literary high-dive is also on the Gotta. there is so much talk about it on the twitter feed!

Little Willow said...

If I had a nickel for every time I said, "I'm sorry," I'd be rich.

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