Paul Rudnick: Confessions of a YA Addict

Paul Rudnick

Photo by Hat Head Studio

Love YA literature? You’re not alone! More and more readers, young and old, are embracing Figment’s favorite genre!

Paul Rudnick is an accomplished screenwriter, playwright, essayistnovelist—and unabashed fan of young adult literature. He loves it so much, he was inspired to write his own YA novel, Gorgeous. Paul stopped by Figment to talk about this passion and how it influenced his new novel. Check it out—and stay tuned till the end to find out how you can share your own favorite YA reads for a chance to win some awesome prizes!

I have a confession to make: I’ve become a hopeless YA addict. Of course, I’ve devoured the classics, from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games, and I’ve discovered the glories of everyone from David Levithan to Veronica Roth and John Green. I’ve been thrilled by these books, because they’re passionate, quirky and insanely entertaining

Here’s what I’ve noticed about so many YA books: they grab you, from the very first sentences. They reach out, demanding the reader’s heartfelt attention. When I first began writing Gorgeous, I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a play or an adult novel or maybe a screenplay. The story only took flight when I began writing in the first person, in the voice of Becky Randle, an 18-year-old girl from a Missouri trailer park. That’s also when I realized that I was writing a YA book. So much of YA is written in the first person, which allows an immediate and emotional connection with the reader. I wanted Becky to feel like she was confiding her deepest secrets, and that anyone reading her story would immediately become her friend. Some of my favorite books have the delicious, secret thrill of the juiciest gossip.

Gorgeous by Paul RudnickGorgeous, like many YA books, is very alive to pop culture. Like just about every other human being on the planet, and sometimes without even meaning to, I’ve absorbed all sorts of information about everyone from name brand designers to Nickelodeon stars to both the British royal family and the extended Kardashian clan. With Gorgeous, instead of referring to real stars and scandals, I decided to create my own. I had a great time, drawing on people we all know, but imagining fictional characters with their own passionate love affairs and Malibu estates and private jets.

Gorgeous also contains supernatural elements. There’s plenty of magic in YA, from immortal vampires to wizards to Victorian illusionists. But I started thinking about a different kind of magic: the magic that can be found in the pages of Vogue. A magic that promises transformation and romance. In Gorgeous, Becky gets an offer, from a handsome, mysterious fashion designer named Tom Kelly. Tom tells Becky that he will make her three dresses: one red, one white and one black. He says that if Becky wears the dresses, and does everything he says, that she’ll become the most beautiful woman in the world. The offer sends Becky off, on an adventure that will change her life forever.

I hope that YA readers will like Becky and understand her, and enjoy her wild ride, which is both comic and heartbreaking. I’m delighted to become a member of the YA community, both as a writer and a reader – it’s a wonderful place to be.

During the month of May, Scholastic wants you to help them celebrate everyone’s love for YA by tweeting it loud and proud! Share your favorite YA reads with @this_is_teen, and tag the tweet #IreadYA for a chance to win some AMAZING prizes.

Click here to learn more!

2 thoughts on “Paul Rudnick: Confessions of a YA Addict

  1. This article was interesting (and made me want to track down that book to read it) but I also realized this is where I am spending the most time when I brainstorm for my current work-in-progress. It’s such a fine line when you want a novel to span a few years and engage both young-ish and old-ish readers (can’t really use either term solely, we all have a chronological age and one we really feel) without crossing too many lines out of the genre. We all feel a bit enchanted to feel young and hopeful, as we do when we begin a book designed to make us feel that way. This article made me realize that, so maybe some of my plot problems will find solutions soon…

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