Childrens book reviews by StorySnoops, judge a book by more than its cover, serving fresh scoops of new books for you every day
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Archive for the ‘Teen Read Week’ Category

Teen Read Week — 2012 Top Ten Winners

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Teen Read Week is the national literacy initiative of the  Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It’s aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults. We at StorySnoops are excited by this year’s group of top ten winners because they are among some of our favorite books for teens. Check out the list and click on the link to get the scoop!

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

The Fault in our Stars, by John Green

Legend, by Marie Lu

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen

Across the Universe, by Beth Ravis

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

Where She Went, by Gail Forman

Abandon, Meg Cabot

Happy reading!

-The Snoops

Read For The Fun Of It! Eden’s Guilty Pleasures…

Monday, October 15th, 2012

It’s that time again–Teen Read Week is happening now! Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative of the  Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association. It’s aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults (pretty sure that is where the Snoops fit in :-) )

The theme this year is “Read For The Fun Of It”, with the sub-theme “It Came From the Library”, which dares teens to read simply for the fun of it. The event offers librarians and educators a chance to encourage teens to read for pleasure and to visit their libraries for free reading materials. Just the kind of good, clean fun we are trying to promote here at StorySnoops!

When I think of reading “just for the fun of it”, the first thing that comes to mind is a true guilty pleasure kind of book. Not too heavy, nothing a teacher would probably ever ask me to analyze or write a report on–just enough naughty behavior going on to heighten the escapism I’m looking for. Something I would for sure pull out on vacation, or most likely the kind of book I’d remove from the coffee table when my really intellectual friend comes over…these will appeal, regardless of who is in need of reading for fun, you or your teen!

Enjoy!

-Eden, StorySnoop

And the Teen’s Top 10 winners are…plus Read Alikes!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country, then voting is open to all teens via the American Library Association’s website.  Over nine thousand votes later, the winners are…

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

6. Matched by Ally Condie

7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Congratulations to all of the winners! And since we featured two of the winning authors on our site this week (you can see their interviews here), we thought we’d throw in some Read Alikes for their books that we enjoyed so much :-) So here goes.

If you liked:


Then you may also want to check out:

And, if you enjoyed:


Take a look at:

So many books, so little time! Enjoy!  –The Snoops

It’s Teen Read Week–Kiersten White is here today!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are excited to interview Kiersten White, author of the Paranormalcy and Supernaturally, the first two titles in the Paranormalcy trilogy. Paranormalcy has landed a spot on the ALA’s Teen’s Top 10 list this year! (Congratulations Kiersten!)  It is the story of Evie, a sixteen year old girly-girl who also happens to work for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, where her job is to track, tag and relocate harmful paranormals.

Welcome Kiersten! Evie is a great character—perfect blend of sass, girly-girl and action heroine! How did she develop in your imagination?  Is she who you wanted to be as a teen?

Paranormalcy really started with the idea for IPCA, but I knew I wanted it to be YA so I had to figure out why a sixteen-year-old would work for a secret international government group. I got the idea for a girl who could see through glamours and then Evie’s voice popped into my head, fully-formed. That first chapter is almost word-for-word what I wrote that very instant.

So, I can’t claim too much of her because she really just told me about herself. Evie is much perkier and more optimistic than I was as a teenager, and much more open to the color pink… I don’t know that I wanted to be someone like her, but I definitely admire her bravery, which is something I’ve never felt I had. Even when she’s afraid, she’ll still throw her shoulders back and go after what she wants.

We know you started writing seriously after your first child was born, but were you interested in writing before that? Did you ever envision this career when you were a teen? If not, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?

Yes! I actually always wanted to be a writer. I majored in English with an emphasis in editing. I thought I’d write and illustrate children’s books, until I realized I was a really crap artist. Alas. I tried my hand at middle grade first, but really found my passion when I started writing YA.

You’ve said that your books don’t contain mature themes and language out of deference to the younger end of your fan base.  Do you find it difficult to appeal to the older audience, while keeping it clean for the younger set?

I really don’t. I think you only broaden your audience when you make it accessible. Really it comes down to the story—this was a story I could tell without those elements, so I didn’t address them. And I think the story is mature enough to entertain adults without having sex and swearing. I can’t guarantee that all of my future books will be appropriate for younger readers (and even I worry sometimes when ten-year-olds read Paranormalcy, just because some of the concepts of relationships and dating are things I think they aren’t ready for yet), but I’m glad that this series was one I could make so accessible.

We just finished reading Stephanie Perkins’ new release Lola and the Boy Next Door, (loved it by the way!) and noticed that you are the first person she thanks in the acknowledgments. Are you two “author friends”, or were you friends before you were authors?  Is it great to have a confidant who writes for a similar audience?

I actually have no idea who she is, so that section was both flattering and vaguely creepy.

Just kidding. Stephanie is one of my best friends in the world. We met through blogging right after she signed with her agent. We started emailing and the friendship developed from there. She helped me learn to self-edit, and if you enjoy my books you should probably thank her, because I am a far better writer now than I was before I knew her. It’s been an amazing comfort to have someone on nearly the same publishing schedule to share all of the highs and lows with. Plus, she is adorable and hilarious and writes AMAZING books that I get to read first. Best deal EVER.

What draws you to the fantasy genre? Are you interested in writing any other genres, like realistic fiction?

I really love reading realistic fiction, and so admire those who can craft such compelling stories without fantasy elements. But…it’s not for me. Reading was always about losing myself in another world, and writing is much the same. I don’t want to write about something I could really live. I want to write about the world I live in, with real people and real emotions, PLUS MAGIC. Besides which, plotting is much easier when you can say, ‘AND THEN A VAMPIRE JUMPED OUT OF THE TREES AND ATTACKED HER.’ It’s a really convenient plot device.

Can you give us any sneak peek insider information about the plot of the trilogy finale, Endlessly? We promise not to tell ;-)

Yes! I can tell you that it is the third book in the trilogy, which is a series made up of three books! So…don’t tell anyone, but…it’s the last book. I KNOW. THE THIRD BOOK IN THE TRILOGY. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED IT’D BE THE END?

Seriously though, nah, I’m not going to tell you anything. Except maybe it has a dragon. Maybe.

Thank you Kiersten! To keep up to date with Kiersten, visit her website. And thank you for joining us for our Teen Read Week interview series! If you missed any of the author interviews, you can find them here.

-The Snoops


It’s Teen Read Week – meet Ally Condie!

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are honored to interview Ally Condie, a former high school English teacher and author of several teen books, including the Matched trilogy. The second title, Crossed, will be released November 1st.  The Matched trilogy tells the story of Cassia, who lives in a futuristic society where all of life’s decisions are made by the government, leaving virtually no room for personal choice or genuine emotion. She’s nominated this year for the Teen’s Top 10 list for the first title, Matched.

Welcome Ally! We loved Matched, which struck us as part dystopian lit, part romance lit. The dystopian genre is a bit of a departure from your past work. Are you drawn to that genre in particular, or did the story that you wanted to tell lead you there?

All my other novels are contemporary YA, but when I got the idea for Matched, I knew it had to take place in a world that was a bit different from ours. So you could say that the story, and Cassia, led me to the dystopian genre for this novel.

As an English teacher, you are very familiar with the dissection of literature and its themes! Where would you hope a classroom discussion about the Orwellian “Society” in Matched might lead teens?

Wherever they would like to go! I would love for them to find resonance in the text for their own lives, their own choices. I hope they can see themselves in the characters and that they find the story interesting.

The covers for Matched and Crossed are not only visually beautiful, but symbolic of Cassia’s life as well.  Did you have any input into the cover art?

I adore the covers. When they showed them to me, I didn’t really have any input but that was because I didn’t have anything to say except, “This looks perfect!” The model is exactly how I would picture Cassia, and I love the colors and fonts the designers have chosen and the beautiful work of the photographer as well.

What are/were your favorite books to teach to your English students?

I looked forward to teaching To Kill A Mockingbird every year. It’s such a wonderful, heartbreaking book. I also really enjoyed teaching Much Ado About Nothing and watching the students discover how fun Shakespeare can be.

What were your favorite books as a teenager? What’s on your nightstand now?

When I was a teenager, I loved reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries. I also loved novels by Anne Tyler and Wallace Stegner. They are still my three favorite authors. Right now I am reading Bunnicula with my son for his book group. (He’s in third grade.) : )

We can’t wait to read Crossed, but are sad we have to wait an entire year for the finale to the trilogy! Do you know yet how it will end? Can you tell us the title?

I do know how it will end! But I’m afraid that I can’t tell you the title because we haven’t finalized it yet. Soon, I hope! And I will be sure to announce it on my website, etc., when we do.

We also have a question for you from a sixth grade Junior StorySnoop, who read Matched and loved it. If you were Cassia, would you go with the rules and choose between Xander or break the rules and choose Ky?

How fun! This question is a great one—and it’s very, very hard for me to answer because I gave half of the characteristics I love about my husband to Ky, and half to Xander. But at the end of Matched, Cassia has chosen Ky, and I think that is the right choice. : )

Thank you Ally!  Don’t miss Crossed in stores soon. To find out more about Ally, visit her website at http://www.allysoncondie.com/

Thank you for the opportunity! And for asking such great questions. : )

Join us tomorrow when we interview Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy. And if you’ve missed any of our interviews so far, you can find them here.

It’s Teen Read Week–do you know Josh Berk?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are thrilled to interview author Josh Berk. Josh is the author of teen novels, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (a best book for teens 2010 by both Kirkus Reviews and Amazon.com) and Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator (to be published in 2012). Josh studied young adult literature in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, which inspired him to start writing his own YA novels. Josh is a librarian living in Bethlehem, PA.

Welcome Josh! Your debut YA novel, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, was a top 5 favorite of 2010 on our website, and a book that we enjoyed and appreciated for the original voice you created in character Will Halpin. You clearly did very thorough research into the world of the hearing-impaired, as everything about Will reads so authentically. How did you create such a convincing deaf character?

Thank you very much! And Will thanks you as well. (Yes, I’m one of those crazies who sort of thinks my characters are real people.)  I did all sorts of different research – reading memoirs by deaf authors, reading non-fiction works about deaf culture, visiting deaf message boards online and spying on conversations there … all sorts of stuff! I also met a deaf librarian near the beginning of the process and she was kind enough to read my early pages and offer suggestions. And then I had some deaf readers later on who also helped me clarify certain things. It really was a world I knew next-to-nothing about going in, so I needed lots and lots of help!

Also, I really was living with Will in my head for quite a while. I’d just walk around and wonder what he’d think about various situations. I’d be like “What would it be like to be deaf in a crowded cafeteria?” and “Isn’t ringing a bell to signal the end of class sort of discrimination against the deaf?” and “What would Will order from this restaurant?” (Like Will, I think about food a lot.)

I think most writers love to try to figure out what it’s like in other people’s heads; empathy is one of our greatest tools. So it was that combination of trying to put myself in his shoes as well as traditional research that (hopefully!) created a convincing character.

Is Will a character that you will revisit? Can we look forward to seeing him in any future books of yours?

It’s so flattering when people ask and it makes me feel great that Will is a character people would like to read more about! (Also, Will himself agrees that he deserves many more books.) But I have no plans for another Hamburger Halpin book. I’m not totally ruling it out as a possibility down the road, but there are no plans to do so. Thanks for asking!

Since you are a writer of mysteries, does that mean that you enjoy reading mysteries as well? What is your favorite mystery of all time?

I read pretty broadly, but definitely enjoy a good mystery. My favorite mysteries tend to be ones where the main character is fascinating and maybe there is some comedy mixed in with the clues. I definitely am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, but I’d have to say my favorite mystery author (note how I’m resisting being pinned down to any one book!) is probably Kinky Friedman. He’s hilarious and weird and was a country singer who ran for governor of Texas. He lost, but his books are good. (They are adult mysteries – not for kids!) My favorite recent teen mystery (probably more of a thriller) is YOU by Charles Benoit.

Since we are celebrating Teen Read Week and you are a librarian, what do you most often recommend to teens looking for a good book? (besides your own, of course!)

Well, just like your site does, librarians try to match the right book to the right reader. There are plenty of books I’d describe as wonderful which just are not going to resonate with some teen readers. So I try to step back and not push my own favorites, but rather listen and ask lots of questions. Typically if I’m working with a teen looking for a book, I ask “What do you like?” not “what do you like to read?” Some kids insist they don’t like reading but I always maintain it’s just that they haven’t found the right books yet and it’s important to match a book to their interests. I really can’t think of the “most often recommended” book because every kid is so different. Man, I keep ducking these questions!

What books were particularly influential or important to you as a teen?

Oddly enough I hardly read any “teen literature” when I was a teen. I went straight from what are generally considered children’s books (mainly fantasy novels like Narnia or anything having to do with baseball) to adult novels. I had a cool English teacher in high school who had us read a Kurt Vonnegut short story and from there I obsessively read all of Vonnegut’s books. His books were definitely the most important books of the teen years for me. Also, in senior year I read On the Road and became obsessed with Jack Kerouac. This led to some pretty disastrous road trips, but I regret nothing.

Tell us a little bit about your new book, Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator, and was it a very different writing experience than Dark Days?

Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator is the story of a kid named Guy who joins his high school’s forensics club to meet a girl he’s crushing on. While there he learns a lot of crime-solving techniques, which he then uses to solve some mysteries in his own life. He uncovers some family secrets and later finds a real dead body on a fake crime scene. That part is based on a true story! There really was a high school forensics group investigating a fake crime scene created by their teacher when they found a dead body. It was too weird of a news story not to write about!

That’s one way the writing experience was rather different – it started with this news story and plot idea, whereas Dark Days was very character-driven. But eventually Guy became just as real and dear to me as Will and I hope readers like him too!

Thank you so much for participating in our interview series Josh! We look forward to reading Guy Langman in 2012! For more information about Josh, be sure to visit his website. And come here again tomorrow to hear from Kiersten White, author of  the Paranormalcy series! And if you’ve missed any of our Teen Read Week interviews, they’ll all be here by the end of the week.

It’s Teen Read Week–meet Sarah Mlynowski!

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are honored to interview author Sarah Mlynowski. Sarah is the author of Gimme a Call, Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) and the bestselling Magic in Manhattan series, which kicked off with Bras & Broomsticks. She is also the co-author of How to Be Bad and has written several novels for adults. She currently lives in New York City.

Welcome Sarah! All of our daughters are huge fans of yours – they especially love the Magic in Manhattan series, which features teenage witch sisters Miri and Rachel. What about this series do you think struck such a chord with tween and teen girls?

I am SO happy to hear they like my books! Yay! I think girls relate to Rachel’s way of looking at the world. And who hasn’t wished she could cast a dance spell or two?

One of our daughters wants to know who you are most like – Miri or Rachel?

Rachel, definitely. Before writing Bras & Broomsticks I read through all of my high school diaries and a lot of my high school self seeped in. Especially the sarcastic, self-absorbed, hyper-active part. I do have one thing in common with Miri. We both bite our nails…unfortunately.

In Gimme a Call, after dropping her cell phone in a fountain, the only person 17-year old Devi can call is her 14-year old self. How did you come up with such a thought-provoking and discussion-worthy concept?

Well, one day I dropped my cell phone into a fountain while making a wish and then… kidding. I wish.

I’m the type of person who is always worrying about the future. I wondered what it would be like to talk to my future self and what she’d say about how I’m living my life.

You are an author that really connects with your teen girl audience. What authors strongly impacted you as a teen?

Thank you! When I was a teen I loved everything by Judy Blume.  Her books made me realize how meaningful–and how much fun–writing about being a girl could be. I loved Christopher Pike’s thrillers–they kept me up all night. Oh, and I loved Gordon Korman. His books are hilarious and his is plotting is genius. And he actually came to talk to my class when I was in the third grade. (He was a teenager at the time—he wrote his first book when he was twelve!)

Which has been your favorite character you have created?

Devi from Gimme a Call. It was challenging—and fun—to create a character at two different points in her life (fourteen and seventeen) simultaneously.

What has been the most rewarding thing a reader has ever said to you?

Every e-mail I get feels like a reward. But I do especially love hearing from reluctant readers who enjoy my books.

Lastly, what can we expect from you next? And can you please write faster?? : )

I’ll try! I have a toddler running around my apartment so I’m a little slower than I used to be. But  Fairest of All, the first book in my new series “Whatever After” will be out this May. It’s about a girl who falls into fairy tales and changes them. It’s for eight-to-eleven year olds.

Thank you so much, Sarah, for participating in our Teen Read Week interview series!

My pleasure! Thank you for having me on your site.

If you’d like to keep up with Sarah and her work, visit her website. Check back with StorySnoops tomorrow to hear from Josh Berk, author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.  And if you miss any of our Teen Read Week author interviews, you can catch them them all here at the end of the week.

Getting ready for Teen Read Week!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

We are excited to host our second annual interview series celebrating the Young Adult Library Service Association’s Teen Read Week.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read for the fun of it and to visit their libraries for free reading materials.

This year, our Teen Read Week interviewees include authors: Sarah Mlynowski, Ally Condie, Josh Berk, and Kiersten White. We thought it would be fun to kick of this event by sharing one of this year’s nominated books, Clockwork Angel, written by one of our interviewees from last year, Cassandra Clare.

Clockwork Angel is the first installment in a new series that is the prequel to the popular Mortal Instruments series.  The year is 1878 and sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray has just crossed the ocean to be reunited with her only living relative. But when she arrives at the wharf in London, her brother Nathaniel is nowhere to be found. Instead, Tessa is greeted by the Dark Sisters, who trick her into going to their home where she is imprisoned and trained to use a supernatural power she never knew she had.

When Tessa is rescued by the Shadowhunters — a special race sworn to protect humans from demons and other dangerous supernatural creatures — she is drawn into a life filled with magic, warlocks, vampires, and other Downworld creatures. Still adjusting to the fact that she belongs in this world, Tessa enlists the Shadowhunters help to find her missing brother. In the process, they discover that the mysterious Magister is behind a diabolical plot to destroy the Shadowhunters and marry Tessa in order to harness her unusual power.

Like the Mortal Instruments series, this supernatural fantasy is filled with action, suspense, and a few surprising twists. It’s heroine, Tessa, is a strong female character who is courageous and tremendously loyal to her brother, even after she learns that he betrayed her.  Not surprising for Victorian London, she is a bit hung up on traditional gender roles. Romance lovers will enjoy Tessa’s evolving relationship with bad-boy Shadowhunter Will. The story ends with many questions unanswered, leaving fans eager for the next installment in the series, Clockwork Prince, scheduled to be released in December.

-Jen, StorySnoop

Teen Read Week wraps up with guest blogger Wade Wallerstein, on Freak Show and Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Our friend Wade Wallerstein is our guest blogger today, wrapping up our Teen Read Week interview series.  He is a high school sophomore, who writes for his school newspaper. Currently on his nightstand? In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. Enjoy!
-The Snoops

Usually, when it comes to literature, homosexual characters are cookie cutter stereotypes: big and flashy, abrasive and sparkly, overly feminine and ‘fabulous.’ Upon first opening Freak Show and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I was disappointed to discover that the main gay characters in both novels fit these descriptions to a tee. I myself am a gay teen, and yes I do have my rhinestone-studded ‘gay’ moments, but I often feel that the gay community in general is mis-portrayed in books. Upon further reading, however, I was immediately captivated by Billy Bloom, a seventeen-year-old drag queen, and Tiny Cooper, a 300 lb. high school junior. Billy Bloom courageously shows up at his conservative Southern school decked out in full on drag, while Tiny Cooper fearlessly presents a play of his life for the student body.

Freak Show chronicles Billy’s struggles with romance, bullying, and being fabulous on a daily basis despite threats to his health. He befriends a football player and sets out on a campaign to win the illustrious title of homecoming queen, and maintain his glitter-coated complexion – both tasks not easily completed in the deep swamps of Florida. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two Will Graysons, one a manic-depressive homo-goth, and the other a straight, laconic indie kid who is also best friends with the aforementioned Tiny Cooper. The two Wills fatefully meet on a street corner in Chicago, where immediately goth-Will and Tiny hit it off. As Tiny tries to produce a play of his life and manage a relationship with goth-Will, indie-Will also tries to find love in a fellow hipster Jane.

As I read both stories, the over-the-top portrayal of characters kept me enthralled – I read Freak Show in a day and WG,WG in two. Both are extremely uplifting tales of breaking barriers and finding love, which ultimately are things that everyone, no matter their sexuality, yearns for. As a gay teen, it was comforting to know that the struggles that I face on a daily basis could be so much worse than they actually are, and that there are others out there with similar experiences and viewpoints. L, G, B, T, Q, or A, you will ADORE Billy Bloom and his, to put it delicately, flair for the dramatic, and Tiny’s HUGE personality (and waist). As such universal characters, you may be able to see a little bit of yourself in both of them. Freak Show and Will Grayson, Will Grayson remind us to stay positive, stay fabulous, and not to take anyone’s crap!

-Wade Wallerstein

Thank you for joining us for our Teen Read Week series.  If you’d like to see all of the posts from this week, click here.  We hope you’re inspired to pick out a great book and read, just for the fun of it.

Meet Cassandra Clare–just named to the 2010 Teen’s Top Ten!

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Our guest today is Cassandra Clare, author of the wildly popular urban fantasy series for young adults, The Mortal Instruments.  The third book in the series, City of Glass, was just voted number two in this year’s Teen’s Top Ten!  Her books have also been in the Teens’ Top Ten in 2008 and 2009.

Welcome Cassandra!

Why did you choose to write novels for a young adult audience?  Does writing for this audience pose any unique challenges for you?

I didn’t so much choose to write for young adults as I chose to write about young adults. When I developed the idea for City of Bones, Jace, Clary and their friends were always teenagers. I wanted to write about coming of age and the difficult decisions we make when we are deciding what kind of people we want to be. Young adult is a marketing category, decided on by the publisher. I suppose the books could just have easily have wound up in paranormal romance. I wouldn’t say the genre poses unique challenges for me as I have never written a book targeted to or about adults — so that would be the challenge.

What appeals to you about writing fantasies?  Is fantasy your own favorite genre?

Fantasy appeals to me because of its powerful allegorical nature. In “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, high school wasn’t just a hellish experience, it was actually hell. In writing about Clary, I am writing about the feeling that a lot of teenagers have that they are different somehow, alienated, unlike others. Only Clary actually very literally is another kind of species of human. In writing about Tessa, I can literalize the experience, which is often strong in adolescence, of feeling that your identity is fluid and shifting, that you’re not sure who you are yet.

At what point in your life did you become interested in writing and how did you make this interest a reality?

I’ve always been interested in writing. I began writing fiction when I was about twelve. I subscribe to Scott Westerfeld’s theory that you have to write about a million bad words before you start writing good ones. It was many years later than I had a manuscript I thought I could show to an agent, which was City of Bones. That was back in 2004.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a young adult?

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, the Lord of the Rings, War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, anything by Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones or Neil Gaiman, any of the Bordertown stories by Terri Windling, Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint, and others.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves and Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.

Thanks so much Cassandra!

Two new books in the Mortal Instruments series — City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire – will be released in May 2012 and September 2013.  Be sure to pick up Clockwork Angel, the first in a trilogy of prequels to the Mortal Instruments series, Infernal Devices.  You can also get updates on Cassandra’s website and blog.

If you’d like to see the rest of the interviews in our Teen Read Week series, click here.  And check back tomorrow to hear from our friend and guest blogger, Wade Wallerstein.

-The Snoops