Teens also have a such a good bullshit radar detector. You do have a great responsibility as a writer for teenagers to get depictions of marginalized kids right. If you don’t, you leave a kid already on the margins even more vulnerable. They see right away that even in the places that are supposed to be safe for them, they aren’t safe really.
What’s the landscape right now in YA books? For a while it was all dystopian, then sick lit. What’s doing well are diverse books that depict protagonists and narrators outside the straight white kids that have traditionally populated the vast majority of youth literature. I don’t see that changing. That’s publishing finally making moves to right the ship and depict society as it really is. That means dealing with poverty, addiction, abortion, rape. It’s taking on a lot of heavy topics in a socially conscious way, and I’ve seen this in YA lit more than any other fiction space. There are some really great conversations going on.
Men specifically? Yeah, I think there’s a certain conflation of ignorance and masculinity where ignorance is given a sort of cachet. Until that changes, there’s always going to be some segment of the male population to stay in the closet about their intellectualism, that they read books and love books and love diving into emotional lives of others. It’s to the point where men reading gets sexualized.