UCD alumni, Aife Kearns and Ciara Murray talk to Heather Reynolds about their podcast, the importance of youth targeted literature, and why it is so important to uplift creators telling their own stories.
UCD alumni, Aífe Kearns and Ciara Murray are the hosts and founders of Forever Young Adult. The podcast is about Young Adult literature and I asked what led them to start a podcast together?
Aífe Kearns answered; “Well, we’re both loud. Ciara’s a librarian, and so they have a lot of contact with books and care a lot about books. I believe I had a few other podcasting projects around that time that I was trying to get off the ground. Ciara was aware of this, and then was like, “God I would actually love to do this podcast idea”, and, if I remember correctly, I was the only one that was like “That sounds like a great idea!”
“Other people did agree that it was a good idea, but nobody wanted to collab with me on it” said Murray, “I remember being like, ‘Aife! You were just hunting for a podcast that someone will consistently do with you, this is my idea’, and you were like, ‘You know what? I can get on board with that as a project’”.
“It’s definitely that Ciara brought the book enthusiasm”, Kearns explains. “I’m still into books, but less into YA as a genre...but don’t make it sound like the podcast is my least favourite child and Ciara’s the better parent!”
Though, Murray interjects “On that, we wouldn’t be able to keep the podcast going for two years just on my enthusiasm for books. There does have to be a balance between ‘I want to read these books and I want to talk about them’, and Aife being like, ‘Yes, and we have to do some business strategy as well’”.
To understand the podcast better, I asked how they would define YA literature; “We define it rather broadly” Murray says. “We look at books that are targeted at a YA audience, so that's books that, when you go into a bookshop, ‘Young Adult’ is written up [above] them.
“But we also have read Jane Austen on the pod, and that’s partly because the characters themselves are in that YA categorisation of being older teens and finding who they are. Sometimes we do younger books that are still relevant to people in their teens. There’s a whole range of books that we do cover, but it’s predominantly books that you walk into a bookshop and you see ‘Young Adult’”.
As university graduates when founding the podcast, I ask why they decided on YA as the genre for the podcast? Murray explains that; “I feel like there are a lot of other people talking about other books. Children’s books get a lot of publicity because of advertising to their parents and adult fiction gets a lot of its own publicity as well, but, partly because Young Adult is so new, it does have a lack of places to turn to to find out more about it, teenagers have a harder time finding it I think. As a librarian, you cannot read every book, but you have to be able to recommend a whole range of books, so podcasts, book reviews, book listings, these are all things that I turned to to get an idea of what was in fiction for different books, and I [thought] ‘I just cannot find that, I cannot find a good solid one for YA specifically’, so I decided I’ll just make it myself, I’ll do it”!
Throughout the podcast, the hosts talk a lot about uplifting stories that are ‘own voices’. “I think the best person to tell a story is someone who the story has happened to”, Kearns explains. “I remember I attended a conference a few years ago, and you know how they do the whole ‘How to react sensitively and deal with confidentiality in such a room’, and the rule they had was treat people’s stories as you’d like your stories to be treated, and I think there’s a lot of stories in the world that don’t receive that sensitive treatment because of who’s telling them. We can’t speak for people whose experiences are not our own, but we can amplify their voices when those people speak for themselves”.
Forever Young Adult can be found on all major podcast hosting sites, as well as @ForeverYAPod on Twitter, and @ForeverYAPodcast on Instagram. Kearns says that the goal of the podcast is to bring attention to Irish authors, but also to include; “Uplifting LGBTQ stories, minority stories, Irish stories”.