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New Voices! Marquita Hockaday: Real-Life Horror

To celebrate the holiday season, we're sharing our followers with some fantastic guest bloggers. Next in our New Voices series is Marquita Hockaday, who knows real life can be even more frightening than the shadows of our imaginations.

A little about Marquita:

Marquita Hockaday is a saint. Well, really she's a full-time teacher for middle school students, but that's equivalent, right? As a writer, she loves the way her fictional worlds and characters take her away from the whining, coughing (doesn’t it always seem like someone has a cold at school?), complaining world she visits Monday to Friday from 7:00 until 3:00 p.m. She's working on her MFA with Fairleigh Dickinson University as she ventures into the wonderful world of YA.

Real-Life Horror

When I first thought about YA novels, I pictured the Harry Potter & Twilight series. I had not read either, but I knew enough about them to know that I didn’t want to write like these authors. Not because J. K/ Rowling and Stephanie Meyer are poor writers, but because I knew I wanted to focus on things that are more real and tangible. Things that our youth truly go through.

Then, I heard that there was such a thing as “edgy YA.” Ever since I discovered this, I have been reading and researching various edgy YA books to add to my intellectual arsenal. The more books that I read, hear about and order, the more I realize this is going to be my area of expertise.

The following is a list of books with a few sentences about each, and various websites you can check out to further your own knowledge about edgy YA: the real-life horrors adolescents can experience.

Dawn by Kevin Brooks is the tale of a young girl grappling with the loss of her father. He just ups and disappears. Dawn spends the novel trying to figure out why God would take away the father who had been there for her... maybe there for her too much.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier is a novel that focuses on a Micah, a girl in high school who lies so much she spend the first part of her freshman year telling everyone she is in fact a boy. The story gets deeper when Micah’s boyfriend ("after school boyfriend", that is) mysteriously dies one afternoon.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott is a short novel about a girl who is kidnapped at ten years old and spends the next five years with her captor.

Speak by Lauris Halse Anderson is a novel about a girl in high school who decides it is better for her to not speak anymore. Why? It could be because everyone in school hates her, or it could be because if she speaks, she will have to face the very thing that made her fall silent.

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch is the story of a young man who often gets away with things in his life, like causing horrible physical harm to a player on an opposing sports team. But will he get away with rape?

Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin is based on real-life events and deals with racism, hate, and the issues and circumstances that result in a fateful incident.

There are plenty more! Check out the links below to find out more about edgy YA.

~Marquita Hockaday
Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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  1. This is probably going to make me seem like a jerk, but how can she say the characters in Harry Potter and Twilight do not go through real life things without ever reading the books? Now, I am no lover of Twilight, but last I checked teenage girls still have crushes which border on obsession, and have to deal with the best friend who gets a crush on them. Sure, there is a fantasy element to the book which no teen will ever experience unless vampires come out of the closet. Or with Harry Potter, which again, the characters deal with friendship drama, family drama, crushes, academic problems, teachers who dislike them. Just because the books have a fantasy element absolutely does not mean teens cannot relate to them or that the characters in the books don't go through real life things.

    On a positive note, teaching middle schoolers is way more awesome than teaching high school kids. I would much rather teach a middle schooler any day (discovered this during my student teaching). Also, she did have a fantastic list of books, Speak is quite good and I am just dying to check out Liar and Living Dead Girl.

  2. I read Dawn, as well as other Kevin Brooks novels and I must say he's a good place to look for real-life horror stories.

  3. Thanks for this post, Marquita! An interesting list; I've only read Living Dead Girl, out of these, so far.
    I will want to check out some more of them!

  4. I honestly keep forgetting to move Liar further up my list. I really do want to read it.

    April, I see your point and agree - fantasy, sci-fi, whatever the genre, real characters experiences relatable problems and growth. They can also be "edgy", which is (imo) not really even a definable word anymore.

    Marquita, thanks for the post! And yes, MS teachers are most certainly saints. :)

  5. Great job, Marquita! I understand what you meant about the whole Twilight/Harry Potter issue. I've read the Twilight series and heart it--and while I agree that Bella goes through many common growing pains, you also won't see teens encountering vampires, werewolves, and wizards on a daily basis. I know you weren't trying to knock the series--especially since you came with me to the midnight "premiere" party for Breaking Dawn. :)

    On another note, what a cool belated b-day present for you! :) I'm so proud I could cry.


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Item Reviewed: New Voices! Marquita Hockaday: Real-Life Horror Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard