Very pleased and excited to note that the new Small Beer Press catalog is out, with my own new novel Under the Poppy slated for October 2010 publication. Note #2: this is not a YA novel, this one is for the grown-ups – though I always feel somewhat uncomfortable making hard-and-fast distinctions. It’s the same discomfort I feel when someone comes up to me at a bookstore or a library and says, “My daughter is 12. Which one of your books is right for her?” How in the world would I know? I don’t know your daughter, or what she likes to read, or what your own parental rules are regarding content, etc. One man’s Harry Potter is another’s witchcraft how-to, and so forth.
That said, what makes Under the Poppy a a novel for adults? To me, its deepest emotional concerns, the questions at the book’s heart, are those of faithfulness: what it means to be true, to yourself, to the one you love, to your life’s vocation, even in situations where the pressure to let go and walk away – from within and without – is very strong. These questions are not inappropriate for young people so much as they are, perhaps, premature. I remember reading Joyce Carol Oates’ The Assassins in my late teens, and again in my late twenties: there was a change. And desire is a very different landscape at fifteen than at thirty, whether that desire is for a person, a calling, or both.
But the right book for any reader is the book that speaks most eloquently and directly to that reader. The writer is the last person who should make these kinds of judgments anyway!