From author Heather Demetrios in Publishers Weekly:
After reading my new biography of World War II spy Virginia Hall, Code Name Badass, a seasoned biographer told me, “I’m… pleasantly surprised you got away with it!” The surprise was justified: it’s not often you see a YA nonfiction work that’ll make your grandma clutch her pearls. Badass is meant to read like an episode of Drunk History, with all the irreverence of the Comedy Central hit intact—but with more than 50 pages of endnotes.
My Pussy Riot–style ambush on the genre has f-bombs falling on its pages. This book comes to the fight with brass knuckles and one of the most audacious women ever to enter the ring of war as its subject. I wanted the language to reflect the dirty fighting of guerilla warfare and the culture of my readers, most of whom armor themselves for the daily onslaught of the patriarchy with clothing and accessories emblazoned with so-called foul language.
It’s possible to drop an f-bomb and an endnote at the same time, I assure you.
Despite the increasing presence of female writers, subjects, and narrative approaches to nonfiction, I’m still not seeing many books that marry the deep research required of a quality biography with bingeable prose. With the rights of women constantly under threat, the last thing my readers want is another biography by the man, for the man, about a man. I may be writing about the past, but the future is female.
It was exhilarating to write the book I wanted to read—as though I’d ditched history class and hung out behind the gym, sneaking a cigarette with the French Resistance instead of reading a dry chapter on the early days of asymmetrical warfare.
Badass is about a disabled woman whose job was to be invisible, but who was also rendered invisible not only by the men in power she worked with but by the privileged few who chose to write and acquire biographies. Did I want to make a little noise with my book, since its subject was often silenced? Hell yes I did. And to be heard over all the dudes in the biography section, I knew I’d need to do a bit of literary shouting.
. . . .
We’ll always have the scholarship and heft of a David McCullough or Ron Chernow. But many readers I know—myself included—long for biography that’s infused with the energy of the subject’s life (often iconoclastic, passionate, and dramatic) and wouldn’t mind seeing a clear line drawn between the past and the present. In short: relevant biography, as modern as its 21st-century readership.
I’m not alone in taking the genre’s road less traveled, but I want to see more writers on this road with me. There’s no map, but you have a lot of fun getting where you’re going.
I share some of Virginia Hall’s privileges: I’m white, middle-class, educated, American. Hall’s access to education and travel is what allowed her to become one of the greatest spies of all time. But she was also disabled and a woman. These two barriers created numerous obstacles throughout her life. And yet it was her character—her grit, moxie, and doggedness—that made me want to write about her.
In order to do Hall’s extraordinary life justice, I had to write in a way that was as divergent as the woman herself.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly
PG suggests that anyone who believes inserting obscenities anywhere in a book is daring or unusual has mixed up 2021 with 1960.
If you’re gonna be a rebel, you need to do something that’s not passé. Nose rings don’t count. YA Fiction is purely a creation of the New York publishing world. You can put anything in a book and call it YA. You might pick up some one-star reviews on Amazon, but, if you’re a real rebel, what other people think doesn’t mean a thing.
The OP author’s latest book is Code Name Badass: The True Story of Virginia Hall and is published by Atheneum Books which is owned by Simon & Schuster which is owned by ViacomCBS.
The person who has total control of ViacomCBS is Sheri Redstone, a wealthy heiress who took over the company from her father, Sumner Redstone.
Perhaps the author of the OP and Ms. Redstone can get together to talk about how their rights as women are constantly under threat.