James Franco and Michael Cunningham on YA Fiction (and What You Should Never Ask a Writer)


6 thoughts on “James Franco and Michael Cunningham on YA Fiction (and What You Should Never Ask a Writer)”

  1. Is it okay for me to completely abhor YA fiction? Even the term annoys me. Or should I just not care about it at all because it isn’t meant for me?


    1. Hi, Ben–
      Not sure if these are rhetorical questions, but I’ll respond. Backwards–
      It’s okay to not care about YA at all if it isn’t meant for you.
      It’s healthy for literacy (and the troubled publishing industry) for reading people to be okay with the idea that not every book that they don’t like is not for them, but for another reading audience that they don’t necessarily condemn (I would extend this argument to the current Franzen (non-)debacle, as well as to asshole anti-lit critics like James Wood and BR Meyers).
      The term is annoying, but it’s pretty useful for young readers, publishers, publicists, etc. I taught high school for years, and to this day I’m grateful for YA writers like SE Hinton and Paul Zindel for hooking young people into becoming lifelong readers. YA is generally a bridge to great lit. In a sense, I’ve always thought of novels like Lord of the Flies and most of Kurt Vonnegut’s stuff as YA–or Lit lite.
      Finally, it’s okay for you to abhor YA fiction–as long as you’re not a parent/mentor/teacher to a young person whom you are trying to get to read. Too often we tell our young people that they need to love/appreciate literature that they simply do not have the tools/maturity to access, leading to frustration, boredom, and nonreading. I wrote about this this summer a bit–


  2. I think that the thing is, you have to realize that YA is a label applied to a lot of books. Some of which don’t deserve it, and some YA is really good, even for adults. I loved Principle Destiny by David A. Cleinman even thought it was technically YA.


  3. Hi,

    As the author of Principle Destiny I have to explain that KATE never read my book. She was paid to place a link here. Principle Destiny is NOT YA, it is a novel written about and for adults. Can older teenagers enjoy it? Of course. Just the way I loved the LOTR when I was 13. Is it YA? Of course not.

    I would appreciate it if you would delete her comment.


    David A. Cleinman


      1. The publicist I hired. I will not name them here. Suffice it to say that Principle Destiny has elements that are not appropriate for a YA audience, especially some very intimate scenes between lovers. However, I will say that it is a novel that all ages can enjoy, when read as a family where a parent can read over the more sexual scenes. But YA? No. It was written for adults and has only adult characters with very few exceptions.

        As for the publicist, they will never get my business again.


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