“Up All Night” is a new collection of short stories centering on teenage protagonists. The characters navigate a range of situations and emotions, many of which come up in the wee hours when most people are asleep. The collection’s editor Laura Silverman, herself a young adult fiction writer, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about the thirteen stories included in “Up All Night” and the themes of coming-of-age they explore.
“When I had this idea for the anthology, I knew that there was so much potential with it, and I really wanted to incorporate enough authors that we could tackle all sorts of subjects. Because the middle of the night can offer anything from romances to ghost stories,” said Silverman. “I wanted a range of not only genres – so not only writers who wrote thrillers and romances, and everything in between – but I also wanted to make sure that we were representing a variety of different races, religions, abilities, sexualities… But more importantly, I went to authors who I admire.”
One of the selected stories, Shark Bait, by Tiffany D. Jackson, spins a tale of a Black girl at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, a popular summer retreat for the wealthy with a complex racial history. “This was really a stand-out one; Jackson was really an incredible writer,” said Silverman. “She has talked before about how Martha’s Vineyard was a retreat for African-American people to kind of getaway, but she also noted that there is racism everywhere… She’s also exploring these dynamics between her [character’s] parents and her shifting family relationships. There’s really so much depth and nuance to the story.”
A recurring theme among the stories is friendship, examined in Silverman’s own original contribution, Creature Capture. It’s a story inspired by the game Pokémon Go, a GPS-activated app where players can catch virtual Pokémon, collectible pocket-size monsters, in real life. “In my story Creature Capture you can do the same thing; you can go out into the world and hunt mythical creatures. My protagonist Abby is obsessed with this app, and she’s caught every mythical creature before except for the Loch Ness monster,” said Silverman. “Abby… is worried about forming new friendships and being true to herself. And so while this story has this cover of a really fun game, it’s also a deeper examination of how to put yourself out there and make friends.”
“I personally love to write for this age group, because your teenage years are just so tumultuous. There are so many changes that happen in such quick succession, constantly trying to not only figure out who you are, but how the world works around you, what your place is in it.” said Silverman. “I feel like it’s just the best age to write about.”