Monday, August 17, 2015

Fall Fifteeners Talk Genre: YA Thriller Edition

Hello, all! Anna-Marie McLemore here, author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, stopping in with this month’s installment of Fall Fifteeners Talk Genre. Throughout this year, I’m chatting with a few of my fellow Fall Fifteeners about their genres, and a little later I’ll be talking about why I write what I write. Today I’m excited to chat with two Fall Fifteeners who both have YA thrillers releasing this fall: Ann Jacobus, author of ROMANCING THE DARK IN THE CITY OF LIGHT, and Shannon Grogan, author of FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU, about thrillers, their books, and their favorite reads.

1. What genre(s) do you write?

Shannon: I write YA contemporary thrillers, and my debut is for ages 14 and up. It also has appeal to adult readers of YA.

Ann: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is a contemporary YA thriller with a paranormal twist. This “twist” is actually a sort of magical realism. In my middle grade manuscript that’s on submission, there is also an important fantastic element, or magical realism.

2. What do you love most about your genre? 

Ann: Since I get to play Creator in my fictional worlds, I like to let seemingly impossible things happen. That’s because I’m not sure anything really IS impossible.

Shannon: I’ve always loved the creep-factor and fast-pacing of thrillers of all kinds, whether it be adult fiction, teen fiction and movies. When danger and death and love are involved, and something needs to be solved, those are the most fun reads for me, and fun to write!

3. What genres does what you write sometimes get confused with? Where are lines drawn, and where is there genuine overlap/blurring between genres?

Ann: I think I’m blurring lines between realism and magical realism/fantasy. Most everything in my stories is realistic, except one critical thing.

Shannon: I think possibly horror. I feel like parts of my book have horror elements in it, even though it wouldn’t be shelved as horror. I’m not sure I’ve read true horror beyond Stephen King and I’m anxious to read the couple YA in my TBR pile!

4. What are some of your favorite books in your genre? 

Shannon: This is too hard! Plus I have too many on my TBR pile that I know will end up as favorites so I’ll pick one of my favorite, recent, non-YA reads: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Ann: I love classic magical realism- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, of course, Isabelle Allende, and Carlos Castaneda-- who I think are brilliant story tellers. And I admire the absurd as in works by Kafka, Ionesco, and Camus. Anything that upends our perception of reality (which can vary from culture to culture incidentally) as well as our expectations. Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, and Going Bovine by Libba Bray, are two novels for younger readers that enjoy a twist of some sort, magical or psychological, or both, and are favorites of mine.

5. How did you come to write in your genre?

Ann: I’m not sure what I write really is a genre. It’s just the way my stories come out.

Shannon: I grew up reading Stephen King, VC Andrews, Danielle Steel, Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell, and Thomas Harris. I think it was natural for me to want to write a combo of scary suspense and romance. Plus I loved Twilight, and actually that book started my journey of YA. I was starting to write an MG mystery and after I read Twilight I wanted the romance factor in there, so the characters had to be a bit older!

6. Regardless of whether you write them, what are your favorite genres to read? 

Shannon: Of course scary books are among my favorites, especially if they have a psychological, demonic, or paranormal aspect to them. I love, love contemporary YA with a relationship focus at the center, whether it be a love interest or a family issue. Especially if there is a cultural issue at the center and I can learn something new about a culture or way of life, something that changes my prior notions of that idea. I love ‘issue’ books of all kinds, and I also love historical fiction, especially with elements of suspense and romance.

Ann: In fiction, I love contemporary realism—and the darker, generally, the better, but also fantasy, and magical realism as I mentioned. Humor is always a plus. As a teen I read more science fiction and fantasy, and now enjoy speculative fiction. I read a fair amount of literary fiction and historical fiction, and the occasional thriller or mystery is great, too. If it’s a good story well told, I’ll enjoy it.

Thanks for talking genre, Ann and Shannon!

About Ann: Ann Jacobus's YA thriller debut, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light will be out from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press on October 6. Find out more here, follow her @annjacobusSF, or on Facebook.

About Shannon: Shannon Grogan is a second grade teacher who writes at night (and while her kids are at ballet and baseball) in a small logging town east of Seattle. She holds degrees in education, and graphic design/Illustration. When she isn’t writing, she's baking, reading, watching scary movies, and wishing she were at the beach. You can find out more about her online at

Anna-Marie McLemore writes from her Mexican-American heritage, and her love both for cultures she grew up in and others she’s learned about along the way. Among her favorite things are fall leaves, Irish dancing, and lesser-known fairy tales. Her YA debut is THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a magical realism story of traveling shows, girls who can make anyone believe in mermaids, and tightrope-walkers who wear wings.

1 comment: