“My philosophy, when researching, writing, and editing books, has always been to let adults, young adults, and children speak for themselves as much as possible,” says writer and anthologist Betsy Franco.
Certainly this was the case when Betsy Franco worked with teenagers across the country to collect original poems and free-written prose for four powerful anthologies: Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers; You Hear Me? Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys; Things I Have To Tell You: Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls; and Night Is Gone, Day Is Still Coming: Stories and Poems by American Indian Teens And Young Adults, which was coedited by Annette Piña Ochoa and Traci L. Gourdine. “Teens aren’t afraid to be frank,” Betsy Franco observes. “These books are uncensored, so any reader can hear firsthand, honest accounts on subjects that are important to them.” The sheer honesty of the submissions surprised the anthologist as she started her projects and inspired her as she continued in her mission. “The writers’ openness made me determined to try not to hit a false note in any aspect of the books,” she says.
Betsy Franco first started collecting writing by teenage girls “in response to a teenage friend of mine who was going through some difficult experiences in high school, and in response to the book Reviving Ophelia [about female adolescence],” she says. A similar project aimed at boys was a natural follow-up. “There were so many stereotypes floating around about boys,” she notes. “Since my own sons didn’t fit the stereotypes, I imagined that other boys didn’t, either.”
In fall 2009, Betsy’s first YA novel, Metamorphosis, Junior Year, was published by Candlewick. The main character, Ovid, wryly records his classmates’ dramas as modern-day Roman mythology. Meanwhile Ovid hides his own Olympian struggles and a disturbing secret.
Now the author or compiler of more than eighty books, including poetry, picture books, and nonfiction for children and adults, Betsy Franco has also invented educational toys. The recipient of a BA in studio art from Stanford University and a MA in education from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Betsy Franco was originally going to be a painter, but switched her creative energy to writing. She lives with her husband in Palo Alto, California, and has three sons, with limitless creativity, who have provided inspiration for many of her most fearless ideas.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me
1. I write SNL-type comedy sketches and perform them with my comedy troupe,
Suburban Squirrel, which my son James has mentioned twice on Late Show with
2. I’m part of a Bay Area improv group.
3. My sons are James, Tom, and Dave Franco. James and Dave are actor/writers and
Tom is a sculptor/illustrator. Tom is the illustrator of my first young adult novel,
METAMORPHOSIS, and James and Dave read the audio version.