As the Academy Awards are approaching and I’m getting ready to launch my new (first) novel, (even though everyone else might not see the equal prestige of these two events) I must admit something that my publishers might not love: more important to me than being financially successful as an author would be receiving an award that would recognize that my novel has been meaningful and will serve a purpose in the Young Adult literary world. An award like one of the two I describe below would bestow opinions I’d value and honors I’d feel esteemed to have. It would make me feel as if I achieved real author status, not just written a book that my readers like. Although that’s important to me too.
The Printz Award is given to a book that “exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.” So, for my audience, I would love if my writing style, theme and content would be “graded” and fit the vision that the Young Adult Library Services Association has established for this honor. The award was first given in 2000 for Michael L. Printz, a libararian from Kansas. A few past winners are Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Going Bovine by Libba Bray, and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. The Printz award is compared to the Newbery Award for children’s books, which you may know.
The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award was just recently established in 2008 for a Young Adult book that “demonstrates a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal and literary merit.” This award, more emphatically than the Printz Award, would show me that my work has been appreciated on a more profound level. Throughout the story in Violet’s Secret, I tried to reach out to all kinds of readers, based on many students whom I’ve actually taught, and hope that they learn to be comfortable being who they are and to stand up for what they know is the right thing to do, even when it’s hard, even when life has handed you twists and turns that scare you. There are a lot of hard decisions that teens have to make in life, and becoming an adult doesn’t really make those decisions any easier; there is no way to foresee the future, but if we try to see the consequences of our actions and listen to our inner gifts, perhaps the right path will be illuminated.
I hope that someday I can announce that I’ve been selected a winner, even one of the runners up!