Blogger Makes Imprint on Young Adult Genre

Third-year English and public relations major Nicole Brinkley sits hunched over her laptop,  her “Doctor Who” calendar — dedicated solely to her blogging schedule — resting in her lap. With only a few empty squares left on the October page, her Young Adult (YA) book blog, WORD for Teens, will soon be filled with various self-penned book reviews, author spotlights and guest-posts.

Brinkley said she tends to plan her posts weeks, sometimes even months, in advance. It’s just part of her nature.

“I’m just incapable of procrastinating,” Brinkley said. “Even when I try, I end up being productive.”

Brinkley said she balances the upkeep of her blog with her ambitious load of coursework through the power of time management. It comes with practice.

WORD for Teens — named from the acronym “worthy of reading and discussing”— has been Brinkley’s brain-child since she was 14 years old. The YA book blog is one of many in a steadily growing online community dedicated to the growing genre.

Brinkley, now a seasoned professional, began blogging as a means of getting her thoughts out after finishing books.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing in the beginning,” Brinkley said. “I was kind of like ‘oh internet! Listen to me.’”

Brinkley said her early posts were cringe-worthy in comparison to her current content, as she mostly only reviewed the books she liked. However, once she learned to be a bit more critical, she was able to shed light on problematic themes displayed in YA books.

Nova Ren Suma, author of young adult books “Imaginary Girls” and “Fade Out,” first met Brinkley at an event WORD co-sponsored with the YA Literature class at SUNY New Paltz. She said Brinkley’s professionalism and passion have impressed her along with the regular thought-provoking content she posts on her blog.

“It is far more than a review blog, with features and discussions on important topics such as gender in YA lit, the reaction of the outside world to the “YA” label, blogger behavior at conventions, book covers and so much more,” Suma said. “What WORD does is more than blogging: it starts conversations.”

Brinkley said the shift to issue-based blogging happened gradually, evolving from her first, fledgling posts.

The rise in popularity of YA novels like “Twilight” and similar paranormal romance stories have served as a call to action, causing her to post more sex-positive, feminist commentaries about the works, Brinkley said.

“There are numerous examples of sexism, slut-shaming, white-washing and other serious issues in YA,” Brinkley said. “These are the things that can be damaging to the young readers, the girls who see border-line abusive behavior in fictional relationships and are taught that it’s okay.”

Brinkley said that these posts have become some of her favorites to post on her blog and her Tumblr because she believes these are lessons that can and should be taken seriously.

“Many people think that just because YA is marketed to teenagers, it doesn’t matter to the adult world,” Brinkley said. “But teenagers matter and they need to know that their thoughts and feelings matter.”

The average YA reader is between 14 and 20 years old, Brinkley said, but she thinks the Young Adult community has thought-provoking, didactic work for readers of any age despite the marketing.

Jacqueline George, an English professor at SUNY New Paltz, said she appreciated the blogger’s presence in her Young Adult Literature class.

“Her knowledge about the YA publishing world was particularly useful and it enriched our discussion of the texts we studied in the course,” George said.

Brinkley said that the blog has assisted her studies in public relations and English as well as giving her opportunities to work with The Poughkeepsie Journal, to cover various live events and to intern with Bloomsbury publishing in New York, N.Y.

As she approaches her final year at New Paltz, Brinkley said that eventually the time will come for her to retire the blog she’s nurtured throughout her years in the YA demographic.

“Eventually, when I apply for jobs in the publishing industry or wherever, I’m going to stop [blogging at WORD],”  Brinkley said. “Everything has its end, but it’ll definitely be a sad day for me.”

 

 

Katherine Speller

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