Sunday, 22 February 2015
Sunday February 22, 2015 Great Cross-over Authors
We often talk about cross-over fiction (books written for adults but read by youth and vice versa), but sometimes neglect our cross-over authors. Personally, I have authors I started reading as a young person and followed into adult writing (any other Roald Dahl fans?), but also there are authors whose teen writing led to adult works. In media we hear about adult authors writing for teens with some derision, but isn’t a story just a story? If an author has a good tale to tell that better fits a youth or even juvenile audience why should they be limited by the label “adult author”? And, of course, the same could be said going in the other direction.
One of my favourite authors who truly writes for all ages is Neil Gaiman. At the library, you will find his writing for adults, children, and teens and in a variety of formats from picture books to novels to graphic novels to non-fiction and even as a screenwriter (see Doctor Who). I think Gaiman is often not listed as a crossover author because there was no radical shift, he has long written for all ages and I certainly hope he continues to. New to Gaiman? Check out The Graveyard Book, Stardust, American Gods, and The Sandman (a series of graphic novels).
Kelley Armstrong is a relatively new author for me personally. I was familiar with her young adult books, but unaware that she started as an adult author and subsequently wrote two young adult trilogies. I particularly enjoy that her books for the two different audiences are interconnected. After reading her YA trilogies I’ve been delighted to encounter more threads linking them with the adult novels. The two youth trilogies also have a nice connection. If reading her YA novels start with The Summoning and in adult fiction you’ll want to reach for Bitten.
I’m not certain that I can really classify Gabrielle Zevin as a crossover author since her first YA novel and first adult novel came out in the same year. However, her YA debut garnered a lot of attention and personally it was only with the release of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry that I became aware that she wrote adult novels as well. Elsehwhere is a great entry to her writing and one of my early favourite YA novels. Her hopeful imagining of life after death remains a comfort for me when I think of those we have lost.
While there are many other authors who write across the great age divide, I’ll share only one more. I’m sure it’s no great surprise that my final selection is Roald Dahl. He is the first author who I read across multiple age ranges and I was thoroughly shocked to find that he was an adult writer. My first experiences of his writing were along the lines of The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you can imagine my shock when in sixth grade I encountered Switch Bitch. I’m still not sure whether my mother knows that I read it at age eleven and was drawn in by the naughty (in my mind) title. His fiction and non-fiction served me well through my childhood and teens, by my twenties I had read all of his children’s books and a good sampling of his adult works. He remains my standard for writers who write for all ages and I hope you enjoy the works of these authors as much as I do.