Celebrating Teen Read Week with Dina Sleiman and Bonnie Calhoun!

Next week, October 18-24 is Teen Read Week, according to the American Library Association. Many libraries have special programs or events to celebrate—check out your library to see if there’s something you can get involved in!

To celebrate, we’re chatting with and Bonnie Calhoun, author of the STONE BRAIDE CHRONICLES, and Dina Sleiman, author of the VALIANT HEARTS novels, both young adult series.


Amy: What made you want to write a young adult novel?

Bonnie: I decided to write YA because young people are more interested in fast-paced plots and slightly wild scenarios. They tend to like more action than adults, and they don’t want to be talked down to, so there is no need to alter the language level for understanding. And the best part . . . the imagination of a YA reader is a wonderful thing! They are much more willing to suspend disbelief than adults.

Dina: Writing instructors say to picture one person you’re writing your novel for. I always pictured a young woman in her late teens or early twenties—a struggling Christian or searching unbeliever in need of guidance and inspiration. When I learned that the typical reader of adult Christian fiction is middle-aged, I realized YA might actually be a better fit for me. Young adult readers are looking for something more real and raw than their adult counterparts. They are hoping to see the world as it truly is and learn and grow through fiction. All of that makes YA a great fit for me. And to top it off, the medieval period, which I love, has traditionally been more appealing to young adult readers.

Amy: If you had to write a tweet-length description of each of your YA books, what would it be?

Tremors—First the Tremors. Selah is being forced to marry, when her only real desire is to join the family as a hunter.
Thunder—The time of Sorrows is long past. The future of Selah and her people is shrouded in mystery. And the clock is ticking.
Aftershock—First came Tremors, then the Thunder and now the Aftershock. New revelation. Nowhere is safe. Selah’s own people hunt her.
Lightning—Selah’s past and future are about to collide. Time is running out. That which made her new could also drive her to a life of madness.


Dauntless—A Robin-hood type heroine must overcome the pain of the past to find love in her future.
Chivalrous—A noblewoman who would rather be a knight must fight to avoid an arranged marriage to a brute.
Courageous (releases in July 2016)—A young woman sets off on crusade in search of redemption, but just might find love instead.


Amy: If you could spend a day with your main character, what would you do together?

Bonnie: Oh boy! That would take some determination because I’d have to figure out whether to bring her into my crazy existence of being a night-owl writer who lives with an online world where everyone believes what they read on the internet . . . orrrrrr . . . go visit Selah’s world of wagons being pulled by horses while hovercraft zoom overhead. Okay . . . I think I’d rather go to her world and fight the Blood Hunters!

Dina: Well, with Merry from Dauntless, we’d start with climbing her favorite trees and visiting her cave hideaway. In the evening, I’d love to go to a castle with her for some dancing and acrobatic entertainment. With Gwendolyn from Chivalrous, I think we’d spend the day in the countryside riding horses. If I’m feeling particularly brave, I might have her teach me to fight with a sword, although I think I’d bypass the jousting. Then we could enjoy a quiet evening by the hearth, and I could listen to her play her pipe.

Amy: What were your favorite books to read as a teenager?

Bonnie: As a teenager my favorite reads were all dystopian or science fiction. Our sci-fi in the 60’s was really cheesy when you look at it today, but boy-oh-boy, back in the day it had a real wow factor to us! And dystopians—I loved anything weird: The Time Machine, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Clockwork Orange, Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run. . . .

Dina: I was a voracious reader as a teen. I read a lot of Grace Livingston Hill, Beverly Lewis, and C. S. Lewis, Sweet Valley High, Silhouette teen and Christian romances, along with just about anything I could get my hands on from my local library. But my favorite young adult series was a little known one about a ballerina. I stumbled onto book one, Maggie Adams Dancer, when I was about ten years old, and I think it really birthed my love of reading as well as dance.

Thanks for joining us, ladies! Just for fun, we’ll be giving away a copy of Thunder and Dauntless to a random reader who answers this question in the comments below by Thursday, October 22: what your favorite book as a teenager, and why?

26 thoughts on “Celebrating Teen Read Week with Dina Sleiman and Bonnie Calhoun!

  1. Such a fun interview! Loved the answers 🙂
    My favorite books were -and still are- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis because I learnt to meet God in a different way, more near and personal. Also because I loved the story and it made me cry when I finished the series.

  2. I discovered Marion Chesney and regency romance when I was a teen and I devoured her books. The stories were fun, the characters were flawed (like me) and she made the history of that period interesting to me. I liked them so much that I am now reading those regency series again! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  3. Since I am currently a teen, I shall put my current favorite book: Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (I like the whole series). But other favorites include The Door Within and The Chronicles of Narnia.

  4. Hi Ladies, thanks for stopping by. Since I already answered the question, I will answer a related one. My favorite YA books now are The Hunger Games series and the Divergent series. Hunger Games especially sparked my interest in writing YA. I really like Anne Stengl, R.J. Larson, and Melanie Dickerson. I recently read Jody Hedlund’s new medieval YA novel, An Uncertain Choice, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also loved Tremors by Bonnie and have just been looking for time to check out the rest of her series 🙂

  5. My favorite book as a teen was Catherine Marshall’s Christy; it introduced me to the world of Christian fiction! Thanks for the giveaway, and the fun interview!

  6. Hi all! Thanks for giving us time in your busy day! My favorite YA books are ll dystopian…Hunger Games, the Divergent series…but what I think started me on this latest dystopian journey was the WOOL series by Hugh Howey. I also have Dina’s latest and just have no time at present to get into it but that’s my project for Fall!

  7. I first discovered Elizabeth Goudge’s “The Little White Horse” when I was in jr. high, and then in high school I discovered her “Scent of Water.” She has remained one of my favorite authors, and I re-read her books every 15 years or so

  8. As a teen I jumped around between Regency Romances, James Herriot’s stories of his life as a country vet, and the occasional sci-fi novel. Two books I really enjoyed were The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Count of Monte Cristo. As a homeschool mom, I have since had the chance to go back and read other great books that I somehow missed as a teenager, like Tolkien’s LOTR and The Hobbit, Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Jane Austen books, and lots of others. Also, I have enjoyed newer book series written for pre-teen and teen audiences like The Door Within series, the Terrestria Chronicles, and most recently, The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker.

  9. I remember reading and enjoying by Victoria Holt and a lot of Christian fiction. I didn’t really get turned on to YA fiction until I was an adult. Now, I am really interested in finding good, clean YA fiction because not only do I have teenage daughters, who love a good romantic story, but I also work in a middle school library. We service kids as young as 11 and as 14. We find it a challenge to find good clean fiction that will appeal to and is appropriate for all ages and interests. I would love to find a source of good, clean fiction, with great values.

  10. As a young teen I enjoyed and still do the Anne of Green Gables series! As a mom of teens and young adults I am always looking for wholesome books for my children. All my kids LOVE to read and my oldest daughter is working towards her goal of be coming a librarian.

  11. My favorite book, wow I love books so to narrow it to one is a very hard task for me. I guess I will choose The Chronicles of Narnia. It really took me away into a world of fantasy and allowed me to escape. Thanks to all writes who treat the world to such a splendid opportunity.

  12. As a teenager I loved the Harry Potter books!! They took you into a magical world and they are just so fun to read! I am now starting from the beginning and reading the series to/with my 8 yr old son!

  13. For some reason, I didn’t read much as a teen. I loved reading as an adolescent and read Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew. But then we moved and I just stopped reading. I had boxes of books too. Now I have stacks of books again and my love for reading is revived over the past decade. We won’t talk about how long is been since I was a teen. But I have teens now. ☺ And they love reading. One enjoys historical Christian fiction. The other loves The Hunger Games and Divergent series. I love reading all genres of Christian fiction.
    I do remember reading Steinbeck in high school and enjoying him.

  14. I loved reading as a teen but honestly cannot remember what specifically I read as a teen versus child versus young adult! I loved Cherry Ames and Trixie Belden and Grace Livingston Hill. I remember reading The Forgotten Daughter and then passing it on to my own daughter many years later. In more recent years I have enjoyed having my own children and under the guise of reading what they are reading, getting to read all the wonderful YA Christian fiction that has come out since I was a teen. ~Kris

  15. I loved the Harry Potter books as a teenager. I was a lot like Hermione and I found it comforting to be able to identify so much with a character.

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