THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are thrilled to introduce our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, David Macinnis Gill. Not only is David the awesome author of SOUL ENCHILADA and BLACK HOLE SUN ( ), he is the Past-President of ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) and an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
(We are very impressed with his time management skills.)
You can check out David's website here.
TXSH: You’ve had a variety of different jobs (a painter, cafeteria manager, bookseller, teacher, and professor)—what led you to become a young adult author?
DMG: In fifth grade, I decided to become a writer—a comic book writer. A friend and I both collected comics, and we tried our hand at creating stories. In college, I was an English major with a creative writing emphasis, and I went from being a comic books to literary fiction. I also became a high school English teacher. After teaching for several years and publishing stories in small literary magazines, I decided to pursue a doctorate. The dissertation, followed by a few years of hard-core academic scholarship, made me forego fiction. When I got back to the kind of writing I love, I chose to write for young adults because it combined my need to tell stories with the need for teens to have something of their own to read.
TXSH: How has writing for teens impacted your life and the lives of your readers?
DMG: Well, I’m not writing many of those scholarly articles anymore! The best thing—the very best thing—about writing for teens is the letters and emails I’ve received. Some have been funny, some have been challenging, and some have been heart-rending, but the common denominator is that my writing has touched their lives in some way. There is nothing more satisfying or humbling.
TXSH: Could you tell us about your involvement in ALAN? How has this influenced your writing career?
DMG: When I was at the University of Tennessee, my doctoral advisor was Ted Hipple, one of the giants in the field of young adult literature and the Executive Secretary of ALAN. Ted was generous with his time and connections, and he made it a point to draw new people into the field and into ALAN. My first academic article was published by Patricia Kelly in The ALAN Review, and a couple of years ago, I was elected ALAN President. I started attending the ALAN Workshop in the mid-90’s, where I learned a tremendous amount about adolescent literature, editors, and authors. When I began writing fiction again, it made sense to write for a readership that I knew so well.
TXSH: What advice would you give someone who is interested in studying young adult literature? What about advice for writers wishing to become young adult authors?
DMG: For both the scholar and the write, my advice is simple: Read. Read all of the literature. Read the current ARCs. Read last year’s books. Read the books that were published ten years ago. Read the books that started it all in the late 60’s and 70’s. Know your field of literature and know the audience that it serves. There are reasons that the books published today are being published, and to understand those reasons—and how you work fits into a growing canon of work—you need to read. Specifically for writers, once you know your field, then look for other like minded writers. SCBWI is a great place to start, especially at the regional or local level.
TXSH: You have a large online presence—what do you think is most effective when it comes to online outreach?
DMG: I think the most effective way to reach out to readers is to create a visually attractive website that provides both timely updates about your current activities and as a source of information for readers, teachers, and media contacts who have discovered your work and are looking for more information. Luckily, because of content management software like WordPress, it’s easy and inexpensive for authors to create a strong site and to integrate social media into it. If you can do that, then anything else you do with social media—Facebook, Twitter, etc—is gravy.
TXSH: Thank you so much, David!
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