Today in YA History: July 31, 1973 – Cassandra Clare born!

July 31, 1973: In Tehran, Iran, The Mortal Instruments Series author Cassandra Clare is born!

Cassie, as she is more commonly known, spent her childhood traveling with her parents; she has lived in Switzerland, England, and France! In the US, she went to high school in Los Angeles, and later split her time between California and NYC working as a reporter for entertainment magazines and tabloids.

Cassie started gaining notice with her fiction writing in the early 2000s. She became a popular and influential fanfiction writer in the Harry Potter and Tolkien fandoms under the similar pseudonym of Cassandra Claire. Some of you may be familiar with the ‘Very Secret Diaries’ series for the Lord of the Rings series. If not, check it out! Highly amusing shorts.

When author Holly Black (Tithe, The Spiderwick Chronicles) read some of Cassie’s fanfiction, the two became friends. Eventually, Ms. Black recommended Cassie to her agent in 2006–a gesture which led to a 3-book deal with Simon & Schuster for Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments”, a contemporary fantasy Young Adult series! City of Bones, the first in the series, was published in 2007, followed by 2 more in the original series with a sequel trilogy that premiered its first book this past April.

Starting in 2010, Cassie began publishing a prequel series, “The Infernal Devices”, of which the second installment is due out this December. This series takes place in the same world as her other work, but in a steampunk setting several hundred years before the first series.

Expect many more stories from Ms. Clare! Whom I wish a most happy birthday!


Today in YA History: July 28, 2009 – Harlequin TEEN imprint founded!

July 28, 2009: Harlequin premieres new Harlequin TEEN Imprint with “My Soul to Take” by Rachel Vincent!

The 60-year-old publisher–a staple in the romance genre for decades– has come a long way since their days as a paperback reprinter. With 9 imprints in the Harlequin Category romance, plus 14 other imprints in 3 other categories, and 8 Other imprints, it was only a matter of time before Young Adult romance had its own place!

Harlequin TEEN titles have been developed for readers who liked the Twilight Series, since the hunger for young adult spiced with supernatural romance has taken the book buying public by storm. Indeed, according to the Association of American Publishers, sales of YA hardcovers had been up 36.4% through that May.

Harlequin’s new imprint was a smart move then and continues to be today as they add more teen-favorite titles to their list such as The Iron Fey Series (a twist on the realm of faeries by Julie Kagawa), The Goddess Test (Aimee Carter’s take on the Hades/Persephone myth) and The Girl in the Steel Corset (Kady Cross’ steampunk sensation that answers what an X-Men type might be like in the Victorian Era).

As Kathleen Adey of Romance Writers of America said in 2009, “The teen-romance readers of today are the adult-romance readers of tomorrow. Courting them when they are younger is probably a good thing.”

And the book that kicked it all off? “My Soul to Take” by Rachel Vincent! MSTT follows the story of a girl who can sense when people will die… which is a nice way of saying that she lets loose a death-scream whenever she knows someone’s going to kick it. In this, the first book in the Soul Screamers Series, Kaylee has received the attention of a popular boy by the name of Nash who knows a lot more about her ‘panic attacks’ than she does.

I haven’t seen too many banshee stories (been writing one myself!) so it’s excellent to hear that the first book out with the Harlequin TEEN imprint was one that didn’t rely on vampires and werewolves! Happy book-day to Ms. Vincent and congrats on two years of stellar Young Adult Romances to Harlequin TEEN!

Today in YA History: July 22, 1948 – S. E. Hinton born!

July 22, 1948: Susan Eloise Hinton is born in Tulsa, OK. This American author is best known for her YA novel “The Outsiders”, which she wrote when she was 15.

Hinton was first published in 1967 by Viking Press. She was 17 years old! Hinton published under the name S. E. Hinton, after her publisher suggested she do so to avoid male reviewers dismissing her first novel because she was a female. Hinton kept the name, in part to retain what had made her famous and in part to distinguish from her public and personal lives.

The pressures of the success of “The Outsiders” and the fame it brought with it put Hinton into a three-year writer’s block. However, when she came out of it, she went on to publish other well-received and/or critically acclaimed novels for young adults, and even adult fiction and children’s books.

Four of her novels have even been made into movies–Susan has brief cameos in three of them!

Happy birthday, S. E.! And many more!

Today in YA History: July 21, 2007 – Final Harry Potter book released!

July 21, 2007: Worldwide release date for the final installment in the Harry Potter series, “”Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows”. It would be translated into 120+ languages.

Before its release, Bloomsbury reportedly spent £10 million to keep the book’s contents safe before its release date. American publisher Arthur Levine refused any copies of the novel to be released in advance for press review, although two reviews were submitted early. On July 16th 2007, photos of all 759 pages of the U.S. edition were leaked and transcribed, leading Scholastic to look for the source that had leaked it. According to Scholastic, the book’s publisher, one-ten-thousandth (0.0001, or 1200 books!) accidentally shipped early in the US. When one of the early books was sold on eBay, Publishers Weekly paid $250 for it; a steep mark up from the $18 the book retailed for!

It’s no wonder the final Harry Potter movie (based on the last half of this book) broke opening day records. It comes from good parentage, as the novel is the fastest selling book of all time breaking the record previously held by Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince (9 million copies). It was released across the world in 93 countries, selling 15 million copies in the first 24 hours! The United States and the U.K. alone bought 11 million of those copies!

And that’s your YA History for today!

Follow Your Dreams: Find Signs Where You Can

After yesterday’s announcement that Borders bookstores will begin closing on Friday, I wrote my own farewell and planned to talk to my roommate about visiting our local store.

The store is not the Borders I grew up with, the one that showed me there was more to life than the books I was being forced to read in middle school and that I would later work for. I hardly knew this local Borders, as I’ve only been relocated for less than a year and times have been tough. Especially when there’s only one car between two people, trips to the bookstore “just because” have been few and far between.

Today, after we finished errands, I told my roommate that I needed one last look around Borders before the craze of the sales begin. Luckily, he knows how much Borders means to me and was there when I found out that my Borders was among the stores to close five months ago. Continue reading