In 2009, the young adult lit world is this huge, hot, thriving, amazing beast with many wonderful heads. Ten years ago? Not so much. It was hard, so hard, to get a young adult novel published. I worked in a book store in the nineties, and the YA section was one skinny shelf, mostly occupied by mass market paperbacks of books from the last golden age of YA: the eighties. As an aspiring writer of YA myself, I kept my eyes peeled for books from new, young writers. There were very, very few.
Then there was Sarah Dessen. Sarah managed to break out and break through during a time when the publishing industry was not so friendly to YA, and the market as we know it now did not exist. I immediately saw her as a beacon of hope for my future potential career. Sarah was exactly the same age as me, and, like me, interested in smaller stories about family and friendship and regular life. I’d study her author photo and think, this is who I want to be.
When I had the chance to meet Sarah at a conference in late 2006, I wasn’t a bit surprised at how wonderful, normal, nice, and funny she was. There was one moment when I found myself eating lunch with Sarah, my husband, and John Green, before my first book was even published, thinking, dang, life is good.
I still want to be Sarah Dessen. I want to be consistently producing quality work. I want to build a wide and loyal fan base. I wouldn’t mind being a New York Times bestseller! Most of all, I want to still be a nice, normal, down to earth person in ten years, in ten books, and beyond. Happy birthday, Sarah, you are still a beacon to me!
Sara Zarr is first place getter in the Making-Adele-Green-With-Envy contest. Dinner with John Green, Sarah Dessen and herself? Dream come true! She also wins the Speedy Gonzales Award here at SDD for her beautiful words that came at super sonic speed. As a teacher, I can say she’d be a dream student!
Sara has two YA titles (Story of a Girl and Sweethearts) currently available on the shelves with her third, Once Was Lost coming out later in the year . You can find her blog and website when you click on the links.
Tomorrow: Jordyn from Ten Cent Notes