Here at the Undisclosed Location (a.k.a. my parents’ house in Ohio), catching up on email, deleting comment spam (Why, why are the spammers so deeply attracted to the post about Rules being a Junior Library Guild selection? It’s harder hit than any other post, by far…) preparing for another small, low-key Thanksgiving, it’s hard to believe that I was at ALAN just a few days ago.
The theme of the workshop was about finding a sense of self and place in young adult literature. Our panel was about place in different genres within YA, and I’m still thinking about it. We each had about five minutes, and I’ll give you a tiny snippet of what we said. Cecil Castellucci talked about how a scene (punk, movie monster-making, etc.) can be a place, how a city can be a character, how art itself is a safe place for a lot of us. Holly Black talked about how description in fantasy needs to suggest, even before any fantastic elements come into the story, that the reader is someplace unexpected, where anything might happen. Garret Freymann-Weyr discussed how inextricable place is from memory. I talked about how in Rules, Battle adjusts very quickly to Portland, and the very ease of that adjustment to a new place underscores how hard it is for her to connect with and understand her brother. (I also told everyone about the anxiety dream I had the night before, appropriate for a conference full of English teachers: that all of us had to relate our own work to the Great Gatsby.) Jo Knowles talked about how an abuser can make every place feel unsafe, but also how places can, eventually, be reclaimed. And Ann Angel did a search for all the places mentioned in the anthology she edited, Such A Pretty Face, and saw that the places mentioned most often — bathrooms, locker rooms, bedrooms — were all locuses of anxiety about where the characters fit in the world.
I was so glad to have the chance to be part of the conference.
More soon, but right now, it’s sunny and I’m going for a walk.