I’m not normally in the habit of posting other people’s interviews in full at my site, but what the hell, I’m doing so today.
And that’s because I was very excited to hear on Monday of this week that graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang (pictured left in his self-portrait) was named the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
Below is a five-question chat he had with Gina Gagliano at First Second Books. I’m merely hosting them here today.
I can’t wait to hear more from Gene in his two-year term as Ambassador.
As the new Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, what changes would you like to see in America’s reading culture?
Gene: I want us to diversify our reading in every sense of the word “diverse.” I want us to read stories from different cultures about different topics in different formats. I want every person to read at least one book that others don’t expect them to like, at least once a year.
What draws you to YA books and literature?
Gene: I started in the comic book industry, which isn’t as tightly categorized into age demographics as the traditional book market. I didn’t really think of myself as a YA author until I began publishing with First Second Books. They looked at my stuff and decided it fit best in Young Adult.
I think they’re right. My friend and fellow author Marsha Qualey says there’s an equation at the heart of all YA:
Power + Belonging = Identity
Most of my stories are about that equation.
What do you like better — hardcovers or paperbacks?
Gene: You know, I’ve never really thought about it. Each format has its advantages. Hardcovers feel solid and substantial in your hand. Paperbacks are more portable.
I do a lot of my reading on the go these days, so I guess right now I prefer paperbacks.
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