|yeah, the logo looks more like a Casper story|
Anyway, I'll never write that story, but I do love literature that talks about new technology. In many ways, it's difficult to think of a contemporary social realistic story, especially for teenagers, which wouldn't include smartphones and apps - Facebook, Tumblr, 2048, Google Maps - as a solution to many of the traditional adventure plotlines (nope, sorry, you can't be actually lost; nope, sorry, you can't actually be bored waiting for your train; nope, sorry, you couldn't not have known that she was in a relationship (and it's complicated)).
New technology offers possibilities both for entirely new plots and for interesting spins on older plots. There's been a spate of YA novels recently that revolve around revenge porn - one of them, in France, is mine. Of course revenge porn existed before smartphones, but the order of magnitude is different now, and so are, therefore, narrative possibilities - especially regarding character development, and some central themes of YA literature, such as gossip or bullying.
Of course, you need to get those voices right, because it can just fail to ring true. Being friends on Facebook with teenagers of that age - in my case, my sister and all her friends - can help. I'm not sure I'd dare do it in English, where I'm not as familiar with the language used by teenagers. So does being very active on these platforms, or at least having an excellent understanding of them. I cringe when I read books in which it is clear that the author (either by themselves or pushed by an editor) has attempted to include some (generally gimmicky) references to apps, software, video games or device without knowing anything about it ("'I sent you a Twitter yesterday!' she chuckled.").
Hybrid texts where 'normal' narrative is sporadically broken by other types of discourse - from mock-tweets to mock-Wikipedia articles - can be highly sophisticated. There is immense value in harnessing the narrative possibilities that technological innovations offer us, not to be trendy; in part so that we continue to map, as faithfully as possible, the changes that are occurring in teenagers' lives, and make guesses as to how they might influence their personalities, their reactions, their tastes, their values. But it has literary and artistic value, too. Such uses are not - or shouldn't be - just a way of spicing up a dull, ordinary story: they can be the opportunity for intensely original, groundbreaking advances in storytelling, for YA literature and beyond.
The only imperative is to avoid at all costs 'giving a message', 'warning' teenagers 'against' the 'dangers' of 'technology'. But frustratingly, in order to make them palatable to mediators, this pedagogical 'guarantee' is frequently used to qualify works which should instead be praised for being uncomfortable or unsettling, both ideologically and linguistically. Let's keep the unease, at all costs. Personally, in my double life - virtual, real, barely separated - saturated with a myriad different voices and worldviews, I have no patience for consensus and all the time in the world for controversy.
Clementine Beauvais writes books in both French and English. The former are of all kinds and shapes, and the latter a humour/adventure detective series, the Sesame Seade mysteries. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.