I had dinner with my editor Connie last night, and one of the things we ended up talking about was books that could essentially be boiled down to “The young adult version of…” or “a YA ___.” To me it feels like lazy writing and a cash grab. The books could very well stand on their own, but just the phrase rubs me the wrong way.
“You mean like ‘Garden State meets 500 Days of Summer?” Connie asked, aware she had pitched WINTER TOWN this same way. I probably wouldn’t have pitched it that way, but that’s an age-old way to quickly describe something in terms of tone. It’s not like I actually took all of the events that happened in either movie and just inserted my characters.
I’ll take some flack for this, but what initially started the conversation was THE HUNGER GAMES. Of course Connie and I are both excited for the movie and have read the book, I still can’t help but shake the Battle Royale connections. I won’t say where Connie stood on the subject, but for me, my mind just goes, “wait, I can just pull any movie or book and just do it over, with my own characters and names?” I’ve heard the “it’s the timeless gladiator story” angle, but yeah, it is, with all of the stuff Battle Royale added. I don’t think Hunger Games is bad at all, I really like it, it just kinda bothers me that it’s gotten so much acclaim but really isn’t as original as a lot of people probably think it is.
I’m sure I have some sour grapes because I’ve had pitches of my own turned down because they were too similar to things in production, and I think any of us in this field have said “Hey, I had this great idea–” to someone only to be met with “Oh! That’s just like that movie ____!” Dreams, crushed!
Somehow Woody Allen came up. We decided to rebrand me as the Young Adult Woody Allen. My next book could be the Young Adult “What’s New, Pussycat?” Something teens have been clamoring for too long now. We tossed out the Young Adult Sons of Anarchy, and the Young Adult Hustle and Flow. I kinda want to write that last one.