Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Young Adults: More Gothic Than They Know by Christine Locke

Do I write "young adult" fiction?  I want my books to employ all the elements of the (formerly designated) "gothic" novel without going so far that I would be uncomfortable having my kids read them.  But does that mean my work is "young adult?"
So yesterday I did a Google searchword test.  Do you know an extrememly high number of the searches for "young adult novels" come from the US (like, 100%)?  The United Kingdom and India show remarkable levels of interest in stories about ghosts and the paranormal (subjects we Americans seem to consider almost exclusively "young adult" these days).  But they call them "horror" or "ghost" stories.  Many of our American YA books could easily wear the label "gothic," as in, the story contains all the traditional gothic elements.  In fact, I used to think I wrote "gothic" stories.  What did I know.  Try typing THAT word into googleAdwords.  I think there are a few academics in the UK still using it as it applies to literature...and Michelle Zink, who, by the way, I love.
So, apparently, Open Door is a work of fiction>genre fiction (ugh!)>horror (really??)>ghosts in amazon language.  Not that I'm not delighted to be included in "genre fiction"--it's yet another label I have problems with...but that's a different post.

It would be unforgiveable to imply, of course, that the Brits don't have YA writers, including in many ways the mother of us all, JKR.  But I was stunned to see that we use the term in searches far, far more than they do.  I'd love to hear any thoughts on why that is.  Do younger readers in the UK attach less of a stigma to the term, "children's literature"? (That's what it was called back when I studied it in grad school in the US, but we don't really say that any more for ages over 10.)

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