Young Adult Authors Shouldn’t Take Young Adult Personally, Says Diablo Cody


When the first images from Young Adult surfaced on the Web earlier this year, showing Charlize Theron looking bedraggled in her sweats and Mickey Mouse shirt, clutching a Pomeranian in a carrier and a Victoria’s Secret bag, several young adult authors I know took to Twitter immediately. They seemed torn between being excited about the existence of a movie about their profession, especially one written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, and slightly horrified by the idea of being depicted as ladies who can’t be bothered to brush their hair and put on a decent pair of pants before leaving the house. And then when they learned Charlize’s character, Mavis Gary, is kind of a crazy stalker who can’t let go of her high school years, they were a bit worried.

“I watched [the trailer], and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to give my profession a bad name!” Mortal Instruments series author Cassandra Clare told TheFABlife last week. At the same time, she added, “I really want to see it, because when will there be another movie about a young adult author?”

But Cody, who calls herself “the Sweet Valley superfan of all time” and is writing an upcoming adaptation of Sweet Valley High, is pretty sure there won’t be a huge outcry from the YA author community. “Mavis is one of a kind. I don’t think it’s an indictment of young adult authors as a group. It’s just this one lady is a little bit off-kilter,” she assured us at the movie’s New York premiere. And though she previously only knew Sweet Valley creator Francine Pascal, “since this movie has been screening, I have met some [YA authors] that have come out of the woodwork, and they are all into the movie, so I’m glad.”

We asked Twilight matriarch Elizabeth Reaser, who co-stars in Young Adult as the wife of Mavis’ ex-boyfriend, what she thought minor YA author Stephenie Meyer would think of this movie. “I think she would appreciate it as a movie,” she said. “I don’t think she could relate to this character! She’s so not this woman, obviously. Stephenie Meyer is like the dream mom and wonderful lady, so she couldn’t be further from Mavis!”

But clearly, we aren’t the only ones wondering how the movie will affect some of our favorite authors. Huffington Post asked Maureen Johnson (The Last Little Blue Envelope, The Name of the Star) to review the movie. And while she genuinely seemed to enjoy how f—ed up Mavis really is, she’s kind of bracing herself for comparisons to her.

“In this film, the point seemed to be that Mavis writes young adult because she is emotionally stunted and trapped in her memories of high school. I would say that while Mavis is certainly stuck in high school, her problems are much more profound than that,” Johnson writes in HuffPo. “I’m just saying… this film should not be taken to demonstrate what YA writers are like. And I’m saying this because just this morning, three people asked me jokingly, ‘Hey, is that writer in Young Adult based on you? Har har har!’ This is going to be a thing. I can feel it.”

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