I’m really excited about participating in the blog tour for Allan Gibbons’ new title! HATE is based on a true story and is unforgettable. I’m so excited to have Alan on my blog today, with a guest post about five contemporary modern classics that have inspired him…
Alan gibbons: Five Contemporary Young Adult Classics
The commonest question young people ask a writer visiting their school is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I give lots of answers from: “I haven’t got a clue. They just come to me” to “I steal them.” The latter answer isn’t a joke. No author writes in a vacuum. When I start on a new book I am aware there are bound to be other novels, screenplays and dramas that have dealt with the same issues. This is not to defend plagiarism. It is a simple statement that authors learn from other authors. So which contemporary Young Adult classics do I learn from?
My first contemporary classic is Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. Published in 1974, it has to be one of the founding texts of modern teenage fiction. Dealing with a menacing secret society in a Catholic High School in the US, the novel upset many because of its use of ‘bad’ language, its treatment of sexuality and violence. Some schools actually banned it from library shelves. Cormier always writes with a kind of dark lyricism. He deserves to be considered a founding father of Young Adult literature and a master of his trade.
Anyone looking for an English equivalent to Cormier need go no further than Robert Swindells. One of his most inspirational novels is the Carnegie Medal-winning Stone Cold, published in 1993. Swindells plays with genre in this book. Is it a realistic social commentary on the blight of youth homelessness or a sinister horror story? In fact, it is both, brilliantly synthesising the tales of a young man surviving on the streets and a monstrous serial killer.
My third choice has to be Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses. By inverting the kind of racial oppression seen in apartheid South Africa, with a white underclass ruled by a black elite, Malorie leads the reader to reconsider the nature of racism. In other hands the novel could have been didactic. When Malorie writes it is the characters and their relationships that drive the narrative.
My fourth choice is the story Anne Cassidy begins in Looking for JJ and ends in Finding Jennifer Jones. A writer who takes on the subject of a child who kills another child has to be clear-sighted and brave. Anne Cassidy is both.
My final novel is Bali Rai’s City of Ghosts. I usually shy away from any mention of magical realism, but this tale of conflict, war and love set at the end of the First World War and ranging from the Amritsar Massacre to a soldier’s convalescent home in Brighton is ambitious, engaging and moving.
I hope you enjoyed the guest post! On the right is the blog tour banner so you can catch up on all of the posts that have already gone up, on other blogs. Look out for HATE in stores- and there are also ways to tweet about the book and the charity set up in memory of Sophie, at the top of the banner: