Regardless of whom she's speaking with or where she's reading, young adult author Carrie Mesrobian always gets asked the same question. "Why did you title your book 'Sex and Violence?'"
Mesrobian's answer: I didn't.
The title "Sex and Violence" came from Mesrobian's editor at Twin Cities publisher Carolrhoda LAB, Andrew Karre.
The title made sense, so Mesrobian signed off on it, and the rest is history. The book has been a critical darling and helped Mesrobian, a writing teacher based in Twin Cities, sell three more books, including "Perfectly Fine White Boy," which was released Oct. 1.
Mesrobian will discuss book titles and more when she appears at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Rochester Public Library. She was invited to speak at the library after she won the Minnesota Book Award for Young Adult Literature for "Sex And Violence."
Despite being published by a small Twin Cities house, "Sex and Violence" has been praised by national best-selling YA authors Andrew Smith ("Grasshopper Jungle") and Gayle Forman ("If I Stay") and was named one of the best books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews and Publisher's Weekly.
Mesrobian's tour to promote her book has been pretty typical for a first-time author. She has traveled to numerous colleges, festivals and libraries and talked about her two main characters, Evan Carter ("Sex and Violence") and Sean Norwhalt ("Perfectly Fine White Boy"). Mesrobian admits that in the current world of YA, female writers don't typically use male narrators.
"People will always ask me how I can sound like a boy, and how I know how a boy thinks, what a boy talks like and what a boy acts like," she said. "They also asks me why I would want to write from a boy's point of view."
Mesrobian said one key difference in her two books is that Evan has had a lot of sex at the start of "Sex and Violence," while Sean ("Perfectly Fine White Boy") is a virgin on page 1. Both are extremely interested in sex, which Mesrobian said makes the teen characters normal.
"I don't think either of my two protagonists are that far out there in terms of how boys' minds work," she said. "I think my characters are rather normal boys. I just don't think that men really advertise that their brains work that way. In (YA), we just don't see that much of that because people assume the readership of YA is girls, so they don't want to freak girls out that boys are thinking about sex as much as they are."