Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ann Dee Ellis

By Darvell Hunt

Have you read ever Ann Dee Ellis's young adult novels? I recently read her first book, This is What I Did:. My response? WOW.

Ann Dee Ellis is the primary reason that I have attended three BYU week-long writing conferences and why I'll probably go back this year. She’s even teaching a novel class this year and I plan to sign up for it.

Three years ago, I was attending an AML conference (AML is Association for Mormon Letters). I went to a panel class hosted by Dean Hughes, Ann Dee Ellis, and Chris Crow. Ann Dee talked about the lucrative deal she received for her first book, which she got from contacts she made at Chris Crow's BYU Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference.

That sounded pretty good to me, so I decided to go. This was not an easy decision, as the conference certainly was not cheap, but I’ve considered the time and money well spent.

At last year’s BYU conference, I met Ann Dee in the hall and I chatted with her for a few minutes. After two years, she still remembered me from the AML class, even though I never really talked to her directly. That impressed me. I talked to her about writing, and she asked me what I was working on. I was disappointed in myself for not having read her book yet, but vowed to correct that oversight.

So, one of the first authors I looked up on my new Amazon Kindle was Ann Dee Ellis. I'm glad I did. I downloaded and read, This is What I Did:. (The colon is part of the title.) What an interesting ride. Honestly, it seemed to be something like “Stephen King for junior high kids.” It's got it all: sex, violence, bullying, flirting, fear, hiding from that fear, humor, and, despite all that, even some triumphant moments—hidden amongst the dark moments. And, on top of the incredible content, the writing style is so unique that it’s worth reading just for that.

I don’t recommend that you read this novel with your Relief Society book club, for sure, but do read it. Be advised, however, that the content may be a bit strong for some readers.

(Please note that when I compare Ann Dee Ellis to Stephen King, I don’t mean to imply that she writes horror for kids. These aren’t really horror stories, although bad things do happen. Stephen King’s stories are often intense and so are Ann Dee Ellis’s. That is what I meant. Also, the “sex and violence” that I mentioned don’t compare to King, but are appropriate, I think, for this type of book and the target age group.)

I’m now starting Ann Dee’s second novel, Everything is Fine. From reading her first book, I’m assuming the title is meant to be sarcastic. It should be a good read.


Laura said...

I LOVED this book! I even interviewed her over at AMV.


I am such a fan of hers. Do you know when her next book comes out?

Darvell Hunt said...

It's a pretty cool book, eh? :-)

I don't know if she has another book coming out soon. I've only see the two of them so far. I hope she's working on something else!