The William C. Morris Award honors books written for young adults by previously unpublished authors. For the 2014 award, The American Library Association’s (ALA) Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) selected five finalists.
The finalists include Stephanie Kuehn, author of Charm & Strange and Carrie Mesrobian, author of Sex & Violence.
Kuehn said she was “thrilled, of course, but also very, very touched to have my book recognized in this way.”
“I’ve had a few days to absorb the news, but the announcement was a huge and wonderful surprise,” added Kuehn.
Though Mesrobian said it feels “very nice, because I love my characters so much, especially Evan, and it feels like this says, ‘Yes, we love them too!’” she also admitted that being a finalist feels weird.
“Andrew Karre, my editor at Carolrhoda LAB, rarely calls me because he knows I hate the phone. So when he called me with the news, at first I thought, okay, either I did something wrong or something really good has happened,” said Mesrobian.
Out of all the finalists, Mesrobian said she has only read Kuehn’s book.
“[It] was so beautiful and so good and so everything. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to dive back into your work. Makes you see the possibilities in your own writing. Makes you excited to be a reader and a writer,” said Mesrobian.
She added that she plans to read the other three books over the holidays. “They all look so juicy, I have to admit! I’m pretty thrilled that Sex & Violence is in their company.”
Kuehn, happy for the other finalists, said that she enjoys books that “experiment and push boundaries, and I know that I keep finding fabulous young adult novels that do just that. It’s very exciting.”
Kuehn appreciates all the hard work that goes into making the awards happen.
“Celebrating and encouraging reading is always important, but I also feel it’s really special for teens to see the literature being written for and about them honored in such a way,” said Kuehn.
Mesrobian hopes that the YA community focuses on more than just who wins.
“We should look at how much work and thought and time librarians and others on the awards committees put into these selections. The people who serve on YALSA committees understand YA lit like nobody else, and they see, [long-term], how the genre has changed and they are thinking of artistic merit and reader advocacy. This effort elevates and dignifies the work that writers and readers and teachers and librarians do. And that is no small thing.”
The other finalists for the 2014 William C. Morris award are Elizabeth Ross, author of Belle Epoque; Cat Winters, author of In the Shadows of Blackbirds; and Evan Roskos, author of Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets.
According to the ALA website, the winner will be selected at the Youth Media Awards on January 27, 2014 during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. For more information, you can visit the ALA website.