Friday, January 20, 2012
Today at weheartya, we have a special treat -- our first-ever Teen Spotlight Interview!! Thank you to our insightful interviewee, Mara K., for responding to our questions about YA life and literature...

Mara K.
Lives in: Ohio
Age: 16
Grade: 11

1. How much time do you spend reading for pleasure?
Since my junior year is much busier than my classes have been in the past, I don't get as much time to read for pleasure. I normally read two or three non-school books per week, and I try to read for leisure for at least a half an hour per day.

2. What genre(s) are you typically drawn to, and why?
Typically I'm interested in classics like Pride and Prejudice or The Great Gatsby, or fantasy like Harry Potter (but not paranormal romance like Twilight). I also like just fiction novels, sometimes teen and sometimes more adult. I also like mysteries.

3. Where do you find most of your books?
Mostly I find them at Barnes and Noble or Frogtown Books, and previously at Borders. I often hear about good books from my friends.

4. When you're deciding whether or not to buy/read a book, what are the things you consider most? (cover art, back cover blurb, genre, author, length, reviews...)
I know it's weird but I hate reading books in too large of a font, so often if I'm on the fence about a book I'll decide based on the font. The cover art definitely draws my attention to books initially, and if the back blurb doesn't draw me in then I probably won't read it. The reviews don't really do much for me because every book receives SOME good reviews and those are going to be chosen for advertisement. However, if a friend raves about a book to me, I'll most likely read it.

5. What is your all-time favorite book? Why?
I have a lot of favourite books, but my top one would probably be Gone with the Wind. It takes me to a completely different era and captivates me. It almost wraps me up and transports me so that I'm practically disoriented when I stop reading. One thing I love about it is that even though the main characters are sort of despicable, Margaret Mitchell writes so well that I root for them the whole time.

6. What are a few of your favorite Young Adult books? What makes them special?
I don't really read much typical young adult fiction, and the books of that genre I do read haven't really stuck out in my mind. I just read a book called Border Songs that could probably be classified as young adult, and I really enjoyed it because it followed a variety of interlocking stories and involved mental incapacities, drugs, politics, romance, and adventure without being dramatic or overdone at all.

7. What are your pet peeves (if any) about Young Adult books?
Sometimes I think there is wayyyy too much drama and annoying romance in teen novels. Especially if the book is focusing on a topic of family, health, or the future, I feel like young adult authors absolutely always include a love interest as a main point in the book, and often it detracts from the effectiveness of the book or its message.

8. Do you think books for young adults realistically reflect the issues/situations facing kids your age?
I do think that young adult novels portray stories accurately for kids in this day and age. I feel as if the genre is adjusting to the times at the same rate that teens are. For example, casual drug use and sex are appearing in novels since kids in our generation seem to be participating in them more and more. I think that a lot of young adult novels can teach and inform, as well as entertain, teenagers.

9. Are any issues/storylines overblown in YA literature? On the flip side, are there issues facing kids today that aren't depicted enough in contemporary literature?
As I said, romance or boyfriend issues are very overused, if not entirely overblown. Drugs and alcohol are used in a lot of books as well, but since it's such a relatable and prevalent topic in the world of teenagers, I think it's still an interesting topic. It hasn't been as overused as boyfriends. Also, I think that topics like eating disorders, psychological illnesses, and even things like the intricacies of a normal teenage friendship are overlooked.

10. What is the main reason you love to read?
I love to read because authors have the leniency to describe and emote things that are hard to portray through other mediums or professions. Writing can draw you in, and characters or stories can be created so well that it touches so many people in so many different ways. It is a way of communication through art and it's as if you can enter a different world and get pulled in. Also, I love to write, and I feel like the love of the two go hand in hand for me.

11. I know that you're also a talented writer. What do you like to write?
My favourite thing to write is poetry, because you don't have to develop a plot or likable characters, it is merely a release of emotion and words. It's kind of a train of thought sort of thing for me, and you have free reign to make as much or as little sense as you want and leave it open to interpretation. My second favourite thing to write is realistic fiction short stories.

12. What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I, of course, read and write, but I also spend a lot of time with my friends. I love playing lacrosse and I'm in the musicals at my school. I also love music and go to concerts as often as I can.

13. Do you ever read author blogs? What do you mostly use the Internet for?
I have never read an author blog. I mostly use the internet for facebook or for school research.

14. Do you and your friends ever talk about/share books?
Yes, my best friend and I constantly share books that we enjoy, and talk about books that we've read. Almost all my friends love to read, so I often talk about books with those around me.

Thank you so much, Mara, for sharing your thoughts with us! Isn't she great, folks?
Happy Reading,


Mary @ BookSwarm said...

This is a great interview! I don't know what it is about large font but it totally turns me off too. And, you're right, romance doesn't have to play a part in every story. Sometimes the story would be better and more focused without it. Happy reading, Mara!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Mara, that was great! You know, romance is one of my favorite parts of YA books. I can't help it. But I'm always pleasantly surprised when romance isn't the be all and end all of the main storyline. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is one book I read recently that made me feel this way.
You're SO right about friendships not being explored enough. For me, high school was about friends and not boyfriends.

Kristan said...

WHAT an awesome interview!! Mara, you're so intelligent and thoughtful. Thank you for sharing your observations and your likes/dislikes. I love P&P and Gatsby too, so maybe I need to read Gone with the Wind. (Love the movie.) Also, Frogtown Books is an awesome name, haha. I wanna hang there.

Pet said...

Sarah, nice to see that you are around and doing well!

PK HREZO said...

Awesome answers and interview! I hopped over from YA Confidential. My interview goes up later this week.
I read Gone with the WInd when I was 18 and it's been my fave book ever since... for the same reasons!

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

What a great interview! It's so interesting to me that font could be a deciding factor!

Anonymous said...

Such an insightful interview... she's reminds me of my niece - very intelligent and knows what she likes. Interesting to hear she doesn't read author's blogs - I heard a few teens say that:) Great interview:)

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



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