August 2016

Nailing Voice in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

The legendary editor Ursula Nordstrom, when asked what qualified her to edit books for children, replied, “I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.” She was right, of course, but while we can all draw from our own experiences, how do we make sure our stories will speak to today’s kids in tone, language, and relevancy. This workshop will discuss concrete methods to nail those hard-to-match MG and YA voices, the pros and cons of using slang and/or pop culture references, issues relevant and appropriate to these ages, and what content does and doesn't fly in the current marketplace. Some topics will be covered jointly, but time will be also dedicated to discussions of each distinct category and what differentiates young adult from middle grade stories, beyond simply the main character's age.

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About Lecturer

About Jen Malone

Jen Malone writes books for tweens and teens, including At Your Service, the You're Invited series, and The Sleepover with Simon & Schuster, and Map to the Stars and Wanderlost with HarperCollins. She is a former Hollywood movie executive who once spent a year traveling the world solo, met her husband on the highway (literally), and went into labor with her identical twins while on a rock star's tour bus. These days she saves the drama for her books. She teaches at Boston University and is the Author-in-Residence at both a Boston-area middle school and for the Girl Scouts of Massachusetts. You can learn more about Jen and her titles at