In which Horn Book disses commercial fiction and me by name

Okay, actually Horn Book only dissed the flap copy and premise of my book, which I don’t feel too badly about since Tim, the Bow-Tied One, came up with both. And I rewrote the flap copy for the book and was surprised that the older version was on the ARCs. (Note to self, make sure it’s not on the real books.)

But this is from the editor in chief at Horn Book’s blog:

Not as rhetorical a question as you might have wished

From the promo blurb for My Double Life, by Janette Rallison:

You know how they say everyone has a twin somewhere in the world, a person chance has formed to be their mirror image? Well, mine happens to be rock star Kari Kingsley. How crazy is that?

Not crazy at all, when you, like I, have just spent two days combing through dozens (and dozens) of new YA novels, every other one of which seeming to encapsulate a formula of romance novel plus high-concept commercial hook plus glamorama cover art. In my day we called these paperbacks.

One of the more interesting of post-Harry Potter developments has been the emergence of commercial fiction for young people; that is, books designed to be purchased by kids/teens themselves, written in an undemanding style and with an alluring, quickly graspable premise. Airport books. Except if they were airport books, I wouldn’t have to think twice about not reviewing them. And. There. Are. So. Many. And so many that seem to want desperately to be just like some other book that has already been a hit. Little Vampire Women, I’m looking at you.

Okay, now it’s Janette typing again.

My first reaction when I read this was to laugh and go write Little Vampire Women. (You know somebody is going to do it, and it will be a bestseller.) But it did get me thinking about the whole issue. Then today I went back to reread the blog and noticed that somebody had left a scathing anonymous comment so I figured I had better leave a comment because otherwise everyone would think I was the anonymous commenter. Here is my comment:

Hi Roger,
To tell you the truth, when my editor asked me to write this book, I had some similar thoughts to yours and joked with him more than once that we should call the book: Yes, Hannah Montana Fans, This Book is for You!

But really, there are no new plots, just new characters to live in them. I asked myself what elements I could add to this much used Prince and the Pauper plot to make it meaningful. Trust me, the issues in the book do run deeper than the flap copy suggests.

As far as the benefits of commercial fiction go, I’ll just say this: I’ve had teenagers tell me they didn’t like reading until they started reading my books. I had two reluctant reader sons who learned that reading could be fun by reading Captain Underpants. Whatever works! Now they’re reading the classics.

And thank you, Roger, for all you do to bring the wonderful world of reading to kids too!

Now I think I’ll sit down and start writing that Little Vampire Women book you mentioned. It’s going to be gold!