Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

Today: PLEASE CREATE A THUNDEROUS DRUM ROLL OF A WELCOME FOR... Teen poet, activist, and believer in CHANGE - Amanda Gorman!

@AmandaSCGorman is a 16 year-old writer, activist, United Nations Delegate, Harry Potter fan - AND - the 1st EVER LA Youth Poet Laureate.

Words like - Authentic & Revolutionary - simply skim the surface in describing this fierce, young lady. And We Hear YA! is thrilled to share her insights on what it means to be a teen today...

Hello Amanda!

Q: Congrats on becoming the 1st LA Youth Poet Laureate! When will your first poetry book come out? And what aspects of life most fuel your 'voice'? 

Thanks! My poetry book will be published in 2015, around June, and there will be a large book sale at the next Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate Commencement Performance.

My emotions definitely affect my voice and the subjects I discuss in my poetry. My observances or sensations that I experience can jolt any inspiration—a newspaper, a conversation, a word. All those reactions settle in the back of my mind and when I’m ready I sit down and write about the ones that seem most urgent.

Q: Voice is essential for YA Books - teens must connect with the voice of the narrator. What types of voices do you connect with most?  

I connect most with voices that are authentic. It’s easy these days for authors to follow a cookie-cutter, generic voice in the hope of gaining the same success of other popular writers. However, books hold a lot of power when they follow the true voice of the author and the characters involved. When a voice is authentic and real, when it is unafraid to cut against the grain, when it can leap off the page, that’s when I’m hypnotized by books. I don’t love them because of their similarities. I love them because of the author’s courage to be different, to be bold.

Q: I read on your Twitter feed that you’ve taken part in your school's nonviolent teen protests against police brutality. As a teen, can you share how these recent, violent events have affected your hopes and fears?

Like many people I was deeply affected by the police brutality inflicted within our nation. All in all Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and so many other faceless, voiceless victims exhibit that we need more peace, unity, and tolerance within our communities. The recent violent events did heighten my fears for any man, woman, boy, or girl, walking the streets who may be seen as dangerous because of the color of their skin. However, these tragic occasions of police brutality have just fueled me further to work for peace and justice. I am now more dedicated than ever to try to change communities, and I’m glad that others feel the same way. In this time of darkness, that brings me hope.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

On this blog I'll be interviewing teens about their POVs on tons of topics - including books and school and life and what's got them fired up. I'll also spotlight new books by YA authors, and toss in some celebrity teen coverage. 

FOR OUR FIRST INTERVIEW... I am beyond stoked to chat with the unique and brilliant - Tallia Storm.


Tallia Storm is a 16-year-old Scottish R&B / soul singer from Glasgow. After leaving her demo CD with Sir Elton John's partner in a hotel restaurant, her life changed forever. 

Sir Elton John called within 24 hours and invited her to open his football stadium concert in Scotland at just 13 years old - how amazing! 

Recently, Tallia signed a global record deal with Virgin Records, and she signed a two-book deal with Scholastic UK that will publish in September 2015. 

WAY TO GO TALLIAFollow her: @Tallia_Storm

Now on to the Q & A:

Tallia, congrats on the book deal. WHOOT! Can you please share what your book-to-be is about...

Well, essentially it will be a fictional tale based on my own experiences. It will follow the fictional heroine Storm Hall as she sets out to make a name for herself in music and naturally like any other teenager, the reader will follow all the ups and downs and drama's of being a teenager and let's face it - there's plenty of them.

Q: What role do you feel music plays in a teen's life today?

I think music has always played a role in one's life. For example, the music I have listened to has shaped who I am as an artist today. I think we use music as our emotional crutch to get us through everyday life. When we're feeling sad, it's like this self harm mechanic comes in and we start playing all the sad songs in the world - just add to our pain. I mean why do we do that - but we do right? But when we're feeling elated or excited, we pick our favourite most upbeat song and boom - we're dancing on the clouds, overcome in bass, the drive of the song - the music becomes a drug and we get lost in the melody. It's kind of extremes I guess. 

I think teens are also very fickle when it comes to music - they can love a song for it's drive and not necessarily the lyrics but the beat is so good they don't care or the opposite is that  they become addicted to the story in the lyrics, the journey that artist has had, the message they are portraying. Many teens can take solace, hope, ambition, passion and much more from lyrics but we suit ourselves. I think the access to music now because of the internet is incredible as I have grown up with my parents extensive jazz, R&B, hip hop and soul collections - now you can get everything at the click of a button and I think that choice is everything. 

However, I think teenagers today are looking for substance with music artists, sure we can get access to dance and EDM music and its great, but when it comes to building that relationship with your audience and the artist, they want to see the journey, the origins, the substance, less of the manufactured pop product. I think - actually hope, when you can deliver that you can grow with your audience and have more longevity than that overnight dance record that ruled the summer sound for a season yet has no ownership from the artist and is forgotten by Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

 Welcome to... We Hear YA! 

Q: What's - We Hear YA!?

A collaborative space where YA writers connect with their teen audience (and vice versa!) 

On this blog, I'll be interviewing teens about their POVs on tons of topics, including books and school and what's got them fired up. I'll also spotlight new books by YA authors, and toss in some celebrity teen coverage. 

A quick but about me... 

I'm a novel writer, entertainment reporter, actor, and creative junkie. My hope for this blog is to combine my passion for learning more about people with my daily determination to become the most gripping and honest YA author possible. 

SO STAY TUNED. And please... add a comment about what you would like to see covered here.  

Thanks! Smiles, Kelly