Tales for the young at heart
Fifteen years ago Susan Katz sat down with HarperCollins' editor-in-chief to discuss the future of their young adult category. They considered whether they should stop publishing young adult books altogether.

Now, young adult book sales make up about 25 percent of the company's revenues - and they're growing.

"We just laugh our heads off about it now," said Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books.

Even as the publishing industry struggles with a challenging business environment, the young adult category remains healthy. HarperCollins' young adult title count is up 14 percent over last year's, Katz said.

You can see a number of young adult authors at the 27th Annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest June 4-5. Here are a few of them, all based in the Chicago area.

Twitter @courtneycare

Daniel Kraus

Daniel Kraus has a Google alert set up for the phrase "grave robbing." "You would not believe how many articles I get," he said.

No, Kraus isn't planning on robbing graves anytime soon. The 35-year-old author wrote "Rotters," a young adult book about people who specialize in that macabre pursuit.

The book, released in early April, tells a classic coming-of-age tale. The story follows Joey Crouch, a 16-year-old Chicagoan living a normal life until his mother dies and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with a father he barely knows. Joey has to make peace with his father - and then learn the family vocation, which is, well, you can guess.

Kraus, who lives in Rogers Park, thinks of his work as a meld of horror and literary fiction. He also is a filmmaker and sees his cinematic and bookish works intersecting.

"I really like big gothic scenes, and what I try to do is to write literary fiction and also have the big scene with the lightning in the sky," he said. "When I pull off both of those things, I feel like I have succeeded."

Julie Halpern

What would you do if a friend faked his or her own kidnapping?

If you turn that person in, you risk losing a friendship. If you don't, you would inevitably be lying to the police or your friend's family - which just as inevitably would get you in trouble.

This is the dilemma faced by Lillian, the main character of Julie Halpern's newest book, "Don't Stop Now." And it is a problem that Halpern herself has faced.

"When I was in college, a friend of mine faked her own kidnapping," Halpern said. "It was this big dramatic thing in my dorm, and police were coming into my room, and I was lying to them, and then I was lying to the FBI. Eventually I turned her in, but I never really found out why she did that. I always held that story in my head."

Veronica Roth