7 YA Authors Tell Us How Trump Has Affected The Way They Write
Photos courtesy of Sarah Jane Jaramillo and Christophe Testi
By Jeff Giles
A while back, I needed a vain, misogynistic villain for my new young adult novel — and the real world gave me one. It was the fall of 2016. I was working on The Brink of Darkness, the sequel to a fantasy thriller called The Edge of Everything. Donald Trump was running for president, and the vile Access Hollywood tape of him bragging about sexually assaulting women had just been made public. I couldn’t get the tape — and the sick message it sent — out of my head.
At the time, I was writing a subplot about a character named Sylvie, who’d lived in the 1920s and been sent to Hell for murder. I was trying to figure out who exactly she had murdered. You probably see where this is going. The husband I gave Sylvie is a gentleman farmer named Fernley. He pretends to be sauve and brags about his expertise at just about everything, but he is actually vicious and utterly useless. As Sylvie puts it, “I remember him being confused by a rake one time.” Fernley thinks he’s handsome (he owns an a silver “electromagnetic” comb, which he believes will fix his thinning hair and which he keeps on a piece of red velvet), and boasts about his wealth, though he’s secretly going broke. What ultimately dooms him, though, is that he thinks both Sylvie and a young female servant are his sexual property. A man hearing Sylvie’s story in Hell says he’d gladly have killed Fernley for her. Sylvie says, “The answer to a violent man is not always another violent man.” Asked what the answer is, she says, “In this case, it was two violent women.”
The best YA novels tend to be about empathy, empowerment and inclusiveness, all of which we need now more than ever. I asked a handful of young adult authors I admire if the Trump administration had already begun to affect their work. The short answer was yes. Here's what they said: