Thursday, July 10, 2008

Christine Fletcher

After I had the pleasure of hearing Christine Fletcher speak about writing for young adults last week, I picked up a copy of her first book, Tallulah Falls, as soon as I could. She was positively inspiring, partly because she's a fun, dynamic speaker, partly because she really knows her stuff, and partly because she's a local success story and we can always use more of those.

Christine wrote Tallulah Falls with no intention of writing a Young Adult book. She wrote the story that came into her head, and the protagonist happened to be 17. After several publishers expressed interest and then ultimately decided to pass, her agent convinced her to try submitting it as YA. Within two weeks of submitting to children's publishers, she had herself a book deal.

Her rule of thumb to distinguish books with young protagonists that are marketed to adults (The Secret Life of Bees, for example) from those marketed as YA: it's all about voice and immediacy. If it feels like a teen is talking in the narration, it's probably YA; an adult reminiscing about their younger days is more marketable as adult fiction. This was so helpful to me, as I've been waffling about how to label the book I'm writing. It's not what I consider a "typical" YA book, and yet my protagonist is in-your-face eighteen, writing about events in his life as they happen--according to Christine Fletcher's wisdom, my first intuition (that I was writing a YA book) prevails.

But enough about me, let's talk about Tallulah. Impulsive and naive, Tallulah's the kind of character that makes you glad you're not her mom. Or her boss. Or the dog she rescues. This is not to say she's not likeable, it's just that she blunders her way into dead ends. Her current dead end has her stuck in Tennessee working for a veterinarian after traipsing across the country attempting to deliver some notebooks to her bipolar best friend. What follows is a story with unique characters who welcome Tallulah into their lives and help her along her way to finding her place in the world. In the meantime, there's no telling what Tallulah will do next, which makes this an enjoyable and unpredictable read.

Read further:
Interview with Christine Fletcher
Review of Ten Cents a Dance


  1. Awesome post - I really like that explanation of the difference between YA and adult fiction. I have been wanting to read 10 Cents a Dance.

  2. Lenore - Yes! Read 10 Cents a Dance, it's a great book. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy and was delighted with it.