Author Imprint

S2017 E3 | FULL EPISODE

Author Jason Reynolds Discusses "Ghost"

Author Jason Reynolds sat down with Lisa Lucas at the National Book Foundation Conference: Why Reading Matters. They discussed his many projects, including his four-part Track series and his upcoming Miles Morales Spider-Man novel. He talks about the electricity he feels when a story clicks and why we need inclusive storytelling in every medium for every age group.

AIRED: July 26, 2017 | 0:24:15
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>> Hi. I'm Lisa Lucas.

I am the host of

"Author Imprint," and today I'm

going to be speaking with

Jason Reynolds, who has been

here today at the

Why Reading Matters Conference

hosted by the

National Book Foundation,

where I am the

Executive Director.

Jason, thank you so much for

joining me today.

>> Thank you for having me.

♪♪

>> Today we talked a little bit

about why reading matters.

>> Yeah.

>> And you had some interesting

thoughts on why it does matter.

I didn't expect you to start

with why reading didn't matter

to you as a young person.

>> I know you didn't

expect that.

[ Laughter ]

>> But why do you think it's

important to frame that

conversation that way for

people?

When you're trying to explain

why reading matters to someone,

why do you start

with the negative?

>> Because I think that,

especially in a crowd

like this crowd, right?

Like, for this crowd, which is a

crowd where everyone is sort of

working in books in some

capacity, right?

We're already the readers,

right?

We're the readers already.

And so, for me, I think

sometimes we can forget that

there are a lot of young people,

specifically, who are totally

disconnected from the power of

books.

And the reason why isn't --

Like, the reasoning behind that

isn't their fault.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> It's not their fault that

they're disconnected.

It's on us. It's up to us

to figure that out.

And so I want to make sure that

I always drive home the point

that, like, yes, today I am this

person.

But my entire childhood I was

disconnected from the power of

books, and the reason why I was

disconnected is because there

were no adults in my life to get

a little creative.

>> Mm-hmm. Yeah.

>> There was no one to say,

"Well, what are you looking for?

What do you need?

What do we..."

It just was a different time.

>> Yeah.

I think about that a lot, too --

the parents.

You know, we talk all the time

about inspiring young people to

read and building this new

audience, but, like, how do you

talk to the parents?

Somebody who's spent 30 years,

40 years not reading at all,

how do you actually get them

involved in the act of reading?

Because it's like, if you're a

kid and your parents don't care,

and they don't think it's

worthwhile, even if there is

something for you --

which, like, authors like

yourself.

>> Right.

>> Lots of people are starting

to provide those options.

>> Yeah.

>> How do you then get the

parent to value the books in the

home, and books in their own

life?

>> I think therein lies the rub,

right?

Like, I don't know if I have the

answer for it.

I think that is where...

It's like anything else.

Whether we're talking about the

technological gap, whether we're

talking about -- the gaps are

the gaps, and our job is to

figure out how to close it.

I'm not exactly sure I have the

answer, but I do know that --

I remember in 1999, 2000, 2001,

I was working in a bookstore

in D.C.

No. 2003, 2004,

'cause that was college.

I'm working at a bookstore in

D.C.

This, as I'm sure you remember,

was the boom of the

street novel.

>> Right.

>> Right? They were everywhere.

Of course, we feel how we feel.

Like them, hate them,

whatever, whatever, whatever.

They flooded the market.

And in this bookstore, which was

a Black bookstore, we carried

65% of this kind of novel.

And what I was seeing was tons

of adults rushing into the

bookstore to read this novel.

Now, do I think these are

"good" books or well-written

books?

Not necessarily.

But there's something to be

learned.

>> Oh, yeah.

>> Right? The same thing that

they were finding in those

novels is the same thing that I

was finding in Tupac.

There's something there,

and if we could figure out how

to harness that thing, and

figure out how to place it other

places and draw the connection

that way, I think that we can

start to bridge the gap

a little bit.

But that takes time and effort

and creativity.

>> Yeah.

Do you talk to parents ever?

>> All the time.

>> Yeah. And what do

they often say?

Are they thankful for the work?

Are they reading it themselves?

>> That's what I was gonna say.

A lot of times, they're reading

the books, too.

And so what will happen is a kid

will say -- like a lady who was

just here.

She was like, "You know, my

daughter met you in some school.

She read your book, and then

came home and said, 'Mom, you

have to read this.'"

And in that moment, there's a

bridging of the gap.

And I think it's happened even

with reluctant adult readers.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Because, one...

And people tend to be a bit

pretentious about the way we

talk about these things.

But one, there's something a

little less...

There's something disarming

about reading books for

young people...

>> Mm-hmm.

>> ...especially for adults

who are reluctant readers,

and adults who may struggle

with literacy.

There's something disarming

still -- that doesn't make -- we

shouldn't look at them as

less than.

We shouldn't look at those

adults who are "reading down"

as less than, either, because

there is something to be gained.

Whether it be a relationship

with your child, whether it be a

relationship with literature and

letters and storytelling

and literacy --

All of those things matter.

>> Mm-hmm.

And I think there's a way to

frame it to encourage parents.

You should be reading what your

kids are reading.

>> You should.

>> You should be able

to have that discussion.

And I think that takes a little

bit of the, like, stink of

"reading down."

>> Exactly. Exactly.

>> Which it isn't, right?

But, you know, back to your own

book -- "Ghost" was the last one

that I read, and I have three

new books of yours on my stack

to read, which are all coming

out soon, which is exciting.

But I remember there was one

moment where a little kid was

eating sunflower seeds.

>> Yeah.

>> And the recognition, the

spark of recognition of my own

youth and, like, hanging out,

you know, in the summertime

eating sunflower seeds with

kids.

Which is such a, like,

Black reference.

>> Very Black.

>> Which is such a -- like,

something that I don't talk

about every day or think about,

but I certainly have never seen

it in a book.

>> Yeah.

>> This simple thing, eating

sunflower seeds and spitting

them out, you know.

>> Yeah.

>> And, like, figuring out how

to, like, break them open, lick

the salt off, get the seed out.

And I think that there's so much

value -- and this is maybe less

of a question and more of a

statement about being able to

find that recognition

in your books.

But I think that --

>> There's something to the

sunflower seeds, though.

>> Yeah.

>> Like, I also wrote --

So, the sunflower seeds in

"Ghost," it's interesting,

because I wanted it to be this

really familiar Black reference

about this snack food that we

all eat sort of passively, this

thing that we all do.

It's the same where my

grandfather would eat peanuts.

Like, that was his sort of form

of this --

It's like a continuous snack.

You're just kind of eating them

all day, and you're

spitting them out.

But what I also wanted to do

with the sunflower seed was use

it as a motif.

The truth is that the sunflower

seeds were also reference to the

adults in his life.

You have choices when it comes

to how we deal with young

people.

You can chew them up...

>> Mm-hmm.

>> ...you can lick the salt.

Or you can take your time

to crack the shell.

That is literally what...

>> Yeah.

>> I mean, that's what "Ghost"

is about, you know?

Sweet, sweet "Ghost." Ohhh.

It's like my baby.

>> That book is a really, really

incredible book.

>> Thank you.

>> And I'm so excited that

"Patina" is coming out soon, the

trilogy.

>> "Patina"!

>> So, where do you think the

trilogy will go and, like, can

you tell us a little bit --

>> It's four. It's four.

>> Four? I'm sorry, the quartet.

>> The quartet.

>> Can you tell me a little bit

about "Ghost," and then about

what you want to do with the

whole series?

>> So, "Ghost," obviously, is

about this kid, Castle Crenshaw,

who experiences a bit of

trauma -- well, not a bit.

He experienced some serious

trauma at the beginning of his

life.

And in that trauma, he naturally

runs from the thing that is

threatening him.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And because of that running,

he realizes that he can run.

But he doesn't think

about it that way.

He doesn't think about it

as a sport.

He thinks about it as survival.

And so when he sees these kids

on a track practicing --

"practicing" running,

he's sort of like, "Why would

you ever have to practice

something that I just

know how to do?"

And so he joins this track team

and sort of finds a new family,

and finds new mentorship, finds

new friends, and this is his

whole thing.

Now, as the story continues, we

get to "Patina," we get to

"Sunny," we get to "Lu."

These are all kids who are

dealing with their own form of

running.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> So, in his story, he was

running from a thing.

And "Patina," it's all about

the feeling that you have to run

your whole family.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Because all the girls I grew

up with -- all the girls.

And I grew up in a Black

neighborhood.

All of the girls in my

neighborhood, including my own

sister and my cousins,

they weren't allowed

to be young.

>> Right.

>> Boys could be boys forever.

>> Right.

>> Girls were --

>> Still can, maybe.

>> And still can, unfortunately.

And unfortunately still can.

Girls back then, the girls in my

neighborhood were expected to

uphold certain levels of

responsibilities at

10, 11 years.

Like, "I got to go in the house

and cook so-and-so's dinner."

At 10?

>> [ Chuckles ]

>> It's like, "I can't stay out

'cause I got to go.

My mom said I got to do my

little sister's hair, so I got

to go in the house."

That's what it was.

And so in Patina's story, you're

getting a young lady who feels

like she has to carry the weight

of the world on her shoulder,

and has been raised that way,

and because of that has become

blind to the fact that she does

have support systems.

She's just not used to having

support systems.

>> I'm so excited to read it.

So, you're gonna go through...

>> Each one.

>> ...each one of the kids...

>> As the season progresses.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And the season is sort of --

The macro level of the season is

progressing, and so you're

seeing all these races and

everything.

At different practice, things

are happening.

And, like, Patina's got, like,

wild practice stuff going on.

You know, then you get, like,

Sunny.

Sunny comes from money.

Sunny doesn't go to school.

He's homeschooled.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And Sunny doesn't want

to be a runner.

>> Right.

>> Right, you're gonna deal with

his sort of thing.

And then Lu, Lu's story would be

about basically this concept

that track isn't about running

against other people.

All you're really running

against is you.

You're trying to beat your time.

It doesn't matter who's

around you.

You're only running for

yourself, and "Lu" is sort of

getting at that, and figuring

out self-awareness and

self-acceptance,

being an albino kid.

>> Well, that sounds good enough

in and of itself, but you also

have two other books coming out

this year.

>> Yes. Whoo!

>> You have the Miles Morales

book, which is "Spider-Man."

>> Yeah.

>> I mean, which is pretty epic,

actually.

>> [ Laughs ] Yeah.

>> You know, I mean, I remember

when the comic book came out,

and it was Miles Morales,

and it was like,

"Wait, wait. There's a..."

>> "He's brown."

>> "There's a brown Spider-Man."

But now there's actually

like a book.

>> There's a novel.

>> A novel.

>> And it is going to

cause a lot of problems.

>> Problems? Why problems?

>> Well, look, there's gonna be

some love, there's gonna be some

feathers ruffled.

>> But isn't the whole thing

about these universes is that

they shift and change, and

there's nothing actually

that's wrong?

>> You know what,

that is the truth.

>> Right.

>> Right? That makes

a lot of sense, Lisa.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Unfortunately...

>> Right.

>> ...there are a lot of people

who aren't very comfortable

with change.

>> Right.

>> And my story...

Shout-out to Disney and

shout-out to Marvel because they

gave me free reign.

They let me do

what I wanted to do.

And so Miles is very brown

culturally.

And before that, they sort of

were able to sort of, "Oh, we're

gonna paint his face brown, and

he's gonna be sort of he comes

from a certain family --

"family" -- but we're not gonna

give him too much texture."

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And that ain't really my

thing, right?

>> Right.

>> So for me, it was like,

"No, we're gonna really layer on

the texture."

>> [ Chuckles ] Right.

>> And his mom,

who is Puerto Rican,

there's gonna be --

I mean, the first page, I think

they're eating, like...

I thinkpasteles andchicharrón.

>> Right. Perfect.

>> You know, and, like,

his father is Black,

and is very Black,

and they're dealing with --

He's Black Dad, right?

Like, I mean, he's

really Black Dad.

And his neighborhood --

He's in Bed-Stuy.

Peter Parker was in

Queens, right?

>> Right.

>> Miles is in Bed-Stuy.

He's in Brooklyn.

It is very Brooklyn.

There's barber-shop scenes.

And there's questions.

The questions of,

"How can I be a superhero

without the privilege?"

>> Right.

>> If I were to tell my mother

that I had to save the world,

my mother would say,

"How you gonna save the world

before you save this family?"

>> Right.

>> "Before you save this block?

The community? The city?"

Like, "How you gonna

save the world?"

>> Right. It's a privilege to be

able to, like, focus on the

whole world's problems.

>> "I need you to get good

grades in school, 'cause you got

to get to college, kid.

College is your ticket out.

You need to go to school.

So you can't be out there saving

the world, 'cause when you gonna

have time to do your homework?"

>> Right. [ Laughs ]

>> Like, that's my mom, right?

And that's my Miles' --

like, that's where Miles

is coming from.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And he's dealing with

inferiority complex, he's

dealing with, like, "Am I

allowed to be Spider-Man?"

>> Yeah.

>> "Is it okay for me

to do this?"

>> Right.

>> Right? Like all of those...

>> 'Cause nobody said,

"Obviously you're Spider-Man.

Maybe you're a secret

superhero."

>> Exactly. Exactly.

>> The messaging is not that,

like, maybe you might actually

be super special.

It's like, "You're not

special at all."

>> "You're not special at all."

And then the bigger picture, on

top of all of those things,

which is the thing that I'm most

excited about, but also the

thing that's gonna get me in a

little bit of --

Is that I'm also telling the

school-to-prison pipeline story.

>> Mm-hmm. Yeah.

>> Using Spider-Man.

And...

>> Good trouble, though.

>> It's good trouble.

Yeah, it's good trouble.

I mean, it's something --

Look, you get your opportunity,

you shoot your shot.

And I had an opportunity to tell

a story that meant the world to

me, and that means the world to

me, and it's something that's

affecting so many of us, and

we've yet to figure out how to

truly talk about it.

>> Yeah.

>> So I'm like, "Well, we'll

have Spider-Man talk about it."

>> And were a comic reader

growing up?

>> I wasn't. My siblings were.

>> Okay.

>> I wasn't as much.

I was a cartoon kid.

So I watched --

>> Do you read them now?

>> Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I'm that guy.

And Marvel's doing crazy stuff.

Like, not just with Miles.

I mean, like, Kamala Khan and,

like...

I mean, there's some really

interesting things happening.

I mean, look, shout-out to the

Black Panther.

I mean, what Te-Nehisi did...

>> Unbelievable.

>> It's unbelievable.

>> Roxane Gay writing

"World of Wakanda."

>> Roxane Gay.

I mean, I always imagine...

Like, imagine what it would've

been like if James Baldwin was

still around, and he was like,

"Yo, I'm getting ready to write

the new version of Superman."

>> [ Laughs ] It's unreal.

>> Like, really...

>> When I think about what I had

access to --

I mean, 'cause I was talking to

somebody, and they were like,

"What'd you read when you

were a kid?"

And I was like,

"Sweet Valley High."

>> Right.

>> I mean, I just --

And I was doing an article for

New York Magazine, and they

were asking me, like, "What were

the measures of being cool when

you were a kid?"

And I was like, "Man,

they were all things

that weren't like me."

You know, when it was

pop-cultural stuff.

It was like, you know, the best

thing I had was, like, Cherie

from "Punky Brewster."

>> Yeah. That's so crazy.

>> You know, and it was like,

"Cherie's onscreen for 2

minutes!" in the 30 minutes

of the show.

>> Yeah.

>> You know, so, yeah, I had

something, but it's --

I cannot imagine what it would

have been like for both of us to

grow up with all of the stuff

that we have now, because it is

changing.

>> It's changing.

>> There is access, actually.

And I think we have to figure

out how to get the work to

people.

>> Yeah.

>> But it's starting to shift.

>> It is.

>> You've done a lot

of that work.

>> I'm super grateful.

I am super grateful.

>> So, I tell this story all the

time now, but when I first met

you, we were in a bookstore.

>> Yeah.

>> And you were at the beginning

of your career, really.

You had just published

"When I Was the Greatest."

>> "When I Was the Greatest,"

yeah.

>> I still have that copy.

I think you signed it.

But you were telling me about

all these big dream you had.

You were like,

"I'm gonna do this."

And they weren't even dreams.

These were just your plans.

>> "This is what I'm gonna do."

>> You know, you said, "I'm

gonna do this, and I'm gonna do

that, and I'm gonna publish all

these books, and this is who I'm

writing for, and this is what I

want to say."

>> Yeah.

>> Now, right, like, you feel

like you're at the beginning

of -- you've done all these

things.

You've accomplished those goals

that you had back then, it feels

like to me.

Like, everything is possible.

Everything is assured.

What next?

Like, what comes beyond being

able to knock out those

9 books or 10 books or 15 books?

>> Yeah. You know...

I don't know.

First, I don't know if I ever

feel like it's...

You know how it is.

I mean, I have my insecurities.

I don't know if I feel like I've

done the thing.

I don't know if I feel like I've

accomplished what I set out to

accomplish.

And every day is a day that I

have to fight back the idea that

I'm not good enough, and that

these books aren't good enough,

and that what I'm working on at

the current time, that I'm not

doing enough or saying enough

or...

It's hard for me.

It's hard for me.

I live in that weird sort of...

I mean, I got my stuff.

I got my stuff.

>> It's easy for me on this side

to be like, "That's dumb."

But also, I think that it's

crazy not to feel that, right,

like when it's so visible, and

you know that there's thousands

and tens of thousands, hundreds

of thousands of children that

are actually reading the work

that you're writing, and that

are being defined by it.

I mean, can you imagine being

Judy Blume, right, like...

>> Exactly.

>> ...where every young person

in, like, the whole of a

country, a huge country...

>> You shifted the whole --

You shifted the trajectory of a

generation.

>> Right.

>> And I couldn't imagine.

But it's that sort of constant,

like, "Am I -- is this okay?

Am I me?"

Like, "Is this happening?"

All that kind of stuff.

But I still have...

Yeah, there's nine books at the

end of this year, but there's

like nine more.

>> Yeah.

>> I mean, I've got eight open

contracts.

>> Yep. That's great.

>> You know, and I want to write

adult novels, I want to write

picture books, I want to

write...

Maybe I'll write some kind of

movie thing.

I don't know yet.

But, look, I'm a storyteller.

I just want to tell stories.

I don't care about the medium.

I prefer books.

That's my sort of --

I love books.

>> Right.

>> Even, like, "Long Way Down,"

it's a novel in verse.

How can I fool around with

format?

How can I really play around

with language?

'Cause I also think sometimes we

forget that writing is a

creative art.

It's not just mechanics.

We also -- you get to stretch

out, you get to be creative, try

something --

>> You get to play.

>> Play around.

>> Philip Roth's "The Breast."

>> Exactly.

>> Which is, in many ways, a

failed experiment, but...

>> But an experiment.

>> He got to write a book about

a man that turns into a boob.

>> Exactly.

>> You know, I mean,

it's just...

You know, I think you

should play.

>> Yeah.

>> And you get to not be perfect

all the time, too.

>> Exactly.

>> I think that it's important

to remember that, like, you

don't have to win 100% of the

time.

Although you seem to.

>> [ Laughs ]

>> And so maybe this is not

applicable.

>> No, it is. [ Laughs ]

>> But, you know, the other

thing -- and I get this a lot.

You know, I really care about

what I do.

I really love books.

And I really love bringing

people together with books.

I don't have a passion for

writing them, but I have a

passion for reading them and

for, you know just telling

everybody that I meet that they

should read this book,

giving them an experience or

celebrating a writer that I

love, to make sure that they get

their due.

But you have a similar type of

enthusiasm.

>> Oh, man.

>> And I remember meeting you.

And has it waned at all, or is

it bigger than it was?

Just the writing and the doing.

>> Oh, my God. It's massive.

>> Yeah?

>> You know what, I was talking

to a buddy last night, and we

were discussing this.

'Cause he was like,

"Oh, do you still feel it?"

Like, "Is it still there?"

And the truth is,

is when I hear a story...

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Like my mom's been telling me

her life story lately.

I've been just kind of sucking

everything -- 'cause she's

getting older, and I'm like,

"Just give it to me."

And it makes me crazy.

Like, it...

It gives me

the electricity that I feel

when I hear a story.

But when I read a story, or when

I'm thinking of something,

or when it starts to make sense,

there's nothing on Earth more

intoxicating for me than that,

other than young people.

That's it.

Those are the two things

in my life.

I don't know if I'd be able to

be honestly fulfilled without

stories, whether they're in

books or whether they've been

told to me, but just I need to

be -- probably even more in

books so I can re-read them.

I can kind of go back and...

>> Right. Yeah.

>> And kids.

There's nothing better.

And that's the other thing, is

that for me this is also

about -- because I write for

young people, I love them, and I

care for them and the work

that I do.

I am of service to them.

And they are as much a part of

my process as anything else.

They are always on my mind.

They are always in my heart.

I don't understand how people

don't -- it's hard for me to

even understand how people

don't like them.

>> Where does that come from?

>> I don't know.

>> 'Cause I've devoted most of

my life to working with

children.

I was an educator for many,

many years.

And I don't know -- I mean, I

don't have kids.

And I was a child,

but we all were.

And, you know, it seems like

somehow the most vital,

important thing that one can do

is to make sure that the young

people that are in this world

have the opportunity to grow up

full and whole...

>> That's it.

>> ...and have things.

>> I think that, when you spend

enough time with them,

I think what becomes really

clear is that...

Is basically that you get to see

what you used to be.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And all you really want for

them is for them to hold on.

Like, everything in life

is going to try to take the

thing that you can see

so clearly in them.

And, for me, it's like I just

want to do everything I can so

they can hang on to it.

Like, I met a fifth-grader one

time, and I said, "How would you

describe your grandma?" right?

And she said, "Oh, my grandma...

It's hard for me to describe

her face, but I can tell you

what her hair look like.

Her hair look like

cotton candy."

And I would've never come up

with that kind of description.

My brain doesn't work that way

anymore.

>> Yeah, they're limber.

>> They're limber.

>> Their minds are limber in a

way that you lose.

>> It's insane.

It is the most incredible

experience.

And being around them...

You know, people think that I'm

doing some, like...

You show up to a school or a

library, or you go to a

classroom or a boys club or

girls club or a prison, and

people are always like, "Man,

thank you for coming and giving

to the young people."

And it's like,

"You just don't get it.

I've come here selfishly."

>> Yeah.

>> I've come here to take."

[ Laughs ]

>> 'Cause you get something from

being with young people, yeah.

It fills you up, too.

>> It fills me up, too. Right.

>> By giving them something, it

just makes you...

>> Listen, one hand

washes the other.

>> Yep.

Do you think that authors make a

mistake in not -- I feel like,

when you say, "Okay, I know this

writer," and it's an adult

writer.

You know, a writer who writes

for an adult audience.

Novelist, whatever.

>> Yeah.

>> And then you say,

"Oh, this person is a YA writer,

or a middle-grade writer."

Do you think that there's the

same value, you know, when we

think about our artists?

Do you think that there's as

much prestige in writing for

children as there is in the

writing for the adult market?

>> No.

>> Why do you think that is?

'Cause I think it's crazy.

>> Oh, it's crazy.

>> The impact you have...

>> It's crazy.

>> I mean, it's like, again,

Judy Blume, Katherine Paterson,

you know, these things that

every single person in the whole

world, it seems like,

knows and has read.

>> Yeah.

I think that there's...

Well, first let me just say that

I think there's a prestige.

I don't know if it's the same

kind of prestige, right, but,

like, I can walk into any

library in America -- I can walk

into any bookstore, any

children's section,

any school...

>> Mm-hmm.

>> ...in this country,

and feel loved.

>> Right.

>> Feel that kind of prestige.

And to me, those are the people

that mean -- kids matter.

It's like, "Oh, the kids" --

The kids are like, "We like it,"

'cause the kids are the ones who

also have the most specific

taste, right?

So for me, there's that. Yeah.

But I don't think,

when it comes to

the world of scholarship, and

the world of sort of capital-L

literature, that we are...

I think we're seen as less than.

I think we're seen less than

simply based on category.

It's just categorical, right?

That doesn't mean...

Look, there's a lot of fluff

in my category.

There's also a lot of

fluff in...

>> There's fluff everywhere.

>> There's fluff everywhere.

But the way that it's sort of

stratified is that, like,

"You all are writing"...

>> Although, to clarify,

fluff is lovely,

and I love all books.

>> Me too. Me too. Me too.

>> [ Laughs ]

All books are good.

>> But there's just this idea

that, like, what we're

writing is...

It's like, "Oh, you're just

writing, like, bubblegum" -- or

it's not as sophisticated.

And I'm like, "You clearly

haven't read any of it."

And I think it's that idea that,

if you're writing for adults,

you're writing sophisticated

work, and if you're writing for

kids, you're not.

It's interesting, 'cause we were

talking about Jesmyn Ward.

And when I was speaking with her

editor recently, the one thing

that she said about her new

book, she was like, "You know,

there's gonna be some

crossover."

And it's one of these times

where it's gonna be crossover

from adult to teen, right, where

it's like there's this --

Because the truth is that line

isn't really there.

>> No.

>> It's not really there.

The other thing I always tell my

adult writing buddies -- whom I

all love very dearly, even

though we sometimes like to --

Well, because I have

a chip on my shoulder.

There's that.

And like to get into these

little -- you know.

But I always tell them, I say,

"You know, I am so proud of and

grateful for the work

that you do."

I really am, 'cause I

read a ton of it.

"But the reason that you have an

audience is because we created

one for you."

>> Yeah. Absolutely.

>> Like, if we don't do our

jobs, there's no one there to

read your books.

Walter created...

Walter Dean Myers created a

massive audience of kids who

grew up to be adults who now

read Colson Whitehead.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Like, that is the truth.

And we don't want to discuss it

that way, but it's the truth.

And I think we have to start

figuring out how to talk about

it inclusively.

It's like, "Look, we're all

in this thing together.

We're all telling stories.

That's what we all love to do.

Some of us are a little more

masturbatory than others, but we

were all telling stories.

We should stop here before I get

in trouble.

I'm gonna stop that question.

>> No, no. Thank you.

>> But it's true.

That's how I really feel.

>> I mean, to me, it feels like,

right, they are connected

markets.

The youth market and the adult

market, these are one thing.

And to look at that time between

age 12 and age 18,

and to see such a significant

drop, right, and to see such a

loss of interest, it means that

maybe we're not holding hands

tight enough...

>> Exactly.

>> ...between those two areas.

>> That's a good point.

>> And maybe if we did, if we

thought about what that

transition could look like, how

we might move a reader from that

sort of 12-year-old, sort of

really optimistic, really

open-hearted, open-spirited

through the rocky teens, you

know, where we hit puberty, and

we do all these things --

Maybe if we think together about

how to carry a young reader

through those times, maybe the

adult market looks different on

the other side.

>> That's interesting.

I would even like to do --

I mean, all these conferences

and festivals, and very few of

them have panels that are

multi-category, right?

Like, why can't I sit on the

panel with Mitchell Jackson or

Chimamanda and really have like

a discussion?

>> Well, I'm gonna do that.

>> You should do that.

You should do that.

>> I'm gonna really do that.

That is a great idea.

>> You know, so...

>> Yeah. So, great.

Well, thank you so much.

>> Oh, thank you for

your work, Lisa.

>> Thank you for yours.

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