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Is there anything better than finding an author whose work you love, and then running a marathon for your entire back book list? (The back list, for those unfamiliar with the term, simply refers to all books by the author that are not entirely new titles.) A book by a well-known author and I love it so much that I go on a book buying spree and have to simply read everything they have ever written…but when I do, it’s really fun. It’s also interesting to learn about the recurring rhythms and themes of a writer’s work when you read everything they’ve ever written, especially if they’re writing across multiple genres.
Young Adult has been a class for a number of decades now, but YA as we know it really began to come of age in the late 1990s and early 2000s. There are a lot of YA authors who have benefited from publishing for over ten years, and have gone on to produce YA books frequently, and so we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some YA authors with deep back-lists who have been publishing for over ten years. You’ve definitely heard of these authors, but you may not have realized that they have so many books in their name! Either way, you’re about to learn about some old and amazing YA titles that you shouldn’t miss!
Note: Because there are many authors I can highlight, I have limited this list to authors who have consistently published YA over the course of their career and have been publishing for ten years or more, and have tried where possible to include authors who have a new version of YA out within the past two years Or expect one over the next year!
When the teens I worked with as a librarian came to me to announce that I simply had to read Scythe, I was a little surprised to learn that many of them had never encountered dystopian fiction before that book. It felt especially ironic considering that Neal Shusterman’s Unwind was the first dystopian YA I read as a teenager about fifteen years ago. Shusterman has written a large number of fantasy novels, from the Unwind series, the Arc of the Scythe series, the Skinjacker trilogy, the National Book Award winner Challenger Deep, as well as many other series and novels spanning from the late 1980s to today! He even co-wrote the books Dry and Proxy with his son Jarrod Shusterman. Check out a deep dive into Shusterman’s work and how he has evolved as a writer over the decades.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Mary Lou came to prominence in 2011 with the publication of The Legend, the first in a dystopian trilogy (now a series) about two enemies who find they have more in common with each other than they realize. Since then, Low has published more than a dozen science fiction, dystopian, and fantasy novels, as well as three graphic novels of legend. Check out the Young Elites series for a fantasy adventure and sinister origin story, the exciting technology ride Warcross series, and The Kingdom of Back for a standalone historical novel! Its latest release is Steelstriker, the sequel to Skyhunter!
Deb Caletti has been publishing YA books for the past 20 years. It debuted in 2002 with The Queen of Everything (I can still remember pulling it from my local library when I was a mid-term teen!) and has followed it up with several contemporary YA novels about complex family and love issues and being the young woman in the world ever since. Her second book, My Dear, My Love, was a National Book Award finalist. An additional twelve teen books, two adult books and one middle-grade novel followed, and Kality was awarded a 2018 Printz Honor. Her most recent release was One Great Lie, and her new novel YA The Epic Story of Every Living thing will be released in September.
David Leviathan as Godfather to Queer YA Lit! Not only is he a prolific author, but he also worked for many years as an editor at Scholastic where he founded the PUSH imprint. Although he has penned several franchise books, his novel Boy Meets Boy was released in 2003 and won the Lambda Literary Award, followed by several other books including Love is the High Law, Every Day and Sequels, Two Boys Kissing, and more. He has also co-wrote YA novels with other well-known YA authors, including Rachel Cohn (with whom he wrote The Endless Playlist for Nick & Nora), Andrea Kramer, Nina LaCour, John Green, and Jennifer Niven.
Tahira Mafi is the author of the bestselling meditative novel Shatter Me, released in 2011 and has sparked numerous sequels in the same world, as well as novels and short stories. While she may be known to her break me She has also written two non-fiction YA novels: Too Much Space by the Sea (which was longlisted for the National Book Award) and Emotion of Great Delight. Her most recent release on YA is This Woven Kingdom, the first in a new fantasy series, and she has also written mid-range novels.
Jacqueline Woodson is a strong author of books for teens, children, and adults, and has won numerous awards and honors for her work, including the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Honor, multiple Newbery Awards and Honors, and the YALSA Honor. Her YA work includes The House You Pass on the Way I Didn’t Mean To Tell You This, If I Came Softly (which was re-released in 2018), Miracle’s Boys, and Under a Meth Moon.
Kiersten White writes fantasy and supernatural books for teens, usually with a great sense of humor and high stakes. I’ve written nearly 20 books for teens (not to mention books for adults and kids too!), including the And I Darken trilogy, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and The Guinevere Deception, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Wars novels about Young Obi-Wan Kenobi. She’s incredibly prolific, and if you want an author with a broad scope and a deep backstory, explore her books!
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AS King is a Printz Award-winning and honors author of ten YA books as well as middle grade novels and numerous short stories. She is best known for her Printz Dig Award winner, and her book Printz Honor Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Her work is surreal, bizarre, and grueling as it explores a wide range of topics affecting teens, from school shootings to white supremacy, and bullying to toxic family relationships. Her latest novel is Switch, and her first novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was reissued two years ago from Speak.
I’m making a slight exception to my criteria and included Jenny Han on this list, even though she hasn’t released a YA novel recently. However, she did produce one of the most successful teen TV shows of the year in The Summer I Turned Pretty, an adaptation of her debut YA novel. It is followed by two sequels, and of course the To All the Boys I Loved trilogy, which was also adapted for the screen by Netflix. Han is also the author of the Burn for Burn trilogy, co-written with Siobhan Vivian, as well as a mid-range novel, picture book and short story in the collection My True Love Gave to Me.
Sean David Hutchinson
I couldn’t have written this list without some honorable mentions! If you want to discover more awesome and prolific authors, check out:
- Julie Berry (who wrote YA fiction and historical fiction)
- Mindy McGuinness (who has a long list of strong YA but hasn’t even reached ten years in the business)
- Tiffany D. Jackson (who writes great mystery and horror but is also not yet ten years old)
- Meg Cabot (a YA queen with a deep background roster going back to the early 2000s, but hasn’t released a YA book recently)
- Sarah Deason (who has been writing since the 1990s but hasn’t had a YA release since 2019 with The Rest of the Story)
- Cynthia Leitich Smith (who has a long series called Tantalize and has published realistic YA for teens, but also writes extensively for children)
- Maggie Stiefvater (who may already be on your radar for the Raven Boys series, the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and her award-winning independent work).
Enjoy diving through these backlists! We hope you discover your new favorite author!
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