13 May 2009

Quizzing “Horrified Teenage Boys”

Having started to think out a novel from a male teenager's point of view, author Garret Freymann-Weyr realized she had to do more research. So, as she described on Publishers Weekly, she talked to some male contemporaries and to some "brave, horrified teenage boys whose mothers pushed them my way."

Freymann-Weyr was surprised to learn that teen-aged boys:

  • think about sex. Even when they've just had sex.
  • think about cars. Even when they were just in cars.
  • really like cars and sex.
I can't believe that Freymann-Weyr hadn't heard those mentioned as traits of the male teenager. Perhaps what surprised her is that they hold true even for thoughtful teenaged boys of the type she planned to write about. Perhaps she hoped that we thoughtful boys were different.

The novel is After the Moment. And, judging by that jacket design, it's not going to be promoted to teen-aged boys. Maybe if there was a car on it.


david elzey said...

I'm not necessarily saying that people cannot write across gender, but when authors have to interview teen boys to find out that they think about sex and cars, and publishers or editors think a "boy" book is going to sell with a girl on the cover... maybe people should just play to their strengths.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a book group with some 12 year old boys and, guess what? They said they'd read a book with a girl on the cover if (a) she looked like the way the author described the character in the book (they complained this often wasn't the case) and (b) there was a reason for her to be there (meaning the book was a character study, and didn't have a plot - hey, it's what they said). Their primary complaint was that they couldn't tell what a book was about by seeing just a person on the cover, and were thus unlikely to check it out.

None of the half dozen boys I talked to were horrified to speak to me, nor did they need to be pushed my way. Maybe my sample group was unique, but I doubt it.

J. L. Bell said...

I'm wondering if After the Moment is a "boy book," or if after all the author's research it's actually a "girl book" about that baffling animal called "boy."

AliceB said...

Here's the blurb as posted on Amazon. It appears that it is the story of a boy who falls in love and screws up (probably literally), told from his pov. The cover, however, is very confusing -- perhaps because the marketers see the book as being for a female audience?

Elizabeth said...

I think a lot of "boy books" have a much wider teen girl readership. This is my current theory about John Green, for example.

Of course, all the girls on his covers may be partially responsible for this. (All his books are about a boy obsessed with a girl.)

I was actually able to ask him about this once; here's what he said, but it boils down to: Yeah, it probably is girls reading these books, but that's just 'cause girls read more. And if boys are going to read his books, it'll have less to do with the cover and more to do with his internet presence.

Elizabeth said...

Also: I would have assumed, from the cover, that the girl in question is pregnant. She has that pregnant stance -- looking down at hands held like they could be perched on an implied belly. Even less likely to be picked up by boys, in my opinion.