My sixteen year old daughter and I were sitting and talking after dinner tonight, and (as I sometimes do) I asked her what she was doing on the internet.
1. She was working on her history homework before she got online (she even unplugged the laptop and put it on her bed so she wouldn't be tempted.) She did turn on her desktop to listen to some music, got bored with homework, and went on Facebook.
2. She posted her status as lurking on Facebook = looking at other people's dramas and then laughing because she has none of her own.
3. A guy on Facebook asked her to go to his church.
4. Her brother came on Facebook and commented in reference to her status, "I know you're lying."
At least the kid is honest. I decided to start taking notes on our conversation, which evolved into this:
Kat: I want to send you some songs.
Me: About what?
Kat: Have you ever hear about this person who writes free music, I think the name is MindThings, he writes a bunch of instrumental songs that are really pretty. They're like ambient sounds that are like New Age music, no lyrics. I can't listen to songs with lyrics when I'm doing homework.
Me: Send them to me. What's the most surprising thing you saw on the internet this week?
Kat: I found the (Facebook) page for one of the most popular senior guy at my school. He suddenly posted that he's single and not going to Prom. Shocker! Got dumped right before Prom. Everyone feels so bad for him. I finally found out how to make a server for [her favorite online video game.] I went on Skype with [friend of a friend] and he talked me through how to do it.
Me: Did you see anything this week about books on the internet?
Kat: No advertisements. I saw some Amazon.com ads but I ran away from them. No, saw one ad circulating around for some kind of Twilight rip-off. Not interested.
Me: Do you know who Amanda Hocking is?
Me: Do you know which big chain bookseller declared bankruptcy?
Me: What book are you reading right now, and what book do you want to read next?
Kat: Reading DotHacker now and I want to read Aion next (both are manga).
Me: Other than manga, what books do your friends talk about?
Kat: Most people in my grade don't talk about books. We're all about video games. Right now everyone is talking about 3DS -- it's the DS in 3-D. This sounds cool. Can you get me some 3-D glasses so I can use the 3-D option on [her favorite online video game]?
Me: Sure. Since you've been reading so much manga, what's your favorite?
Kat: Blood+ is my favorite manga of all time. It's so awesome because I can reread it and see new things each time. It's pretty gory, not like the nice manga I usually read.
Me: Tell me about the story.
Kat: This girl is the last descendant of a vampire, and she has to slay vampire-like monsters developed by the military, which escaped to Japan where she goes around slaying them. Her twin sister, who is like the opposite of her, is working with the monsters, so she knows she's going to have to kill her sister. The storyline is unique, this girl is fighting for her life and trying to stop the monsters and save the world.
Me: You know that's not really a unique storyline.
Kat: (makes a face at me.)
Me: What book would you want me to take you to the book store right now to buy -- any author, any book.
Kat: Chris D'Lacey. I'd go to the bookstore to get a new dragon book by him.
Me: Do you ever hear any other kids in school talking about books?
Kat: Some guys in my history class are always talking about that book you asked me about the last time we were at BAM.
Me: The Hunger Games.
Kat: Yeah, that one. (makes another face.) It doesn't sound like a girl book so I don't want to read it. Why are you writing all those notes?
Me: So I can make this into a blog post for other writers to read. Do you want to tell them what you want to read -- what sort of book?
Kat: No more Twilight ripoffs. So over Twilight. Anything with unique storylines, big plot twists, surprises but not too many because you get jerked around too much.
Me: What do you think will be the next big thing in books for kids your age?
Kat: Nobody at my school has heard of steampunk yet but I think all the gears and stuff are cool. That could be the next big thing.
Me: Any advice you want to give to YA authors?
Kat: Write a good book first. You can have a million ads and stuff on the internet but if your book is crap we won't read it. Write something really great and then kids will talk about it.