Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing on Wednesday: What's YA? by Christine Locke


Young Adult: It’s Sooo 100 Years Ago…And I Love It!
I found myself responding to a writer friend’s complaint that she was blocked with the recommendation she read one of two books: Jane Eyre or Huckleberry Finn.  They are two go-to books from two of my go-to authors.  A few lines from either one can send me powering through a block like Felix Baumgartner smashing the sound barrier.  In fact, I’ve been keeping them both handy, of late.
In Time, the sequel to my YA gothic horror novel Open Door, will be out later this year.  That’s the novel I’m currently revising and the reason Huck sits on my nightstand.  I write Young Adult fiction; I love everything about the genre.  I love the age of the characters, on the verge of life and all its challenges and promises.   I appreciate that my audience’s age requires I avoid gratuitous sexual scenes and abundant profanity.  I never thought either added much to a story.  And the Buffy fan in me loves, loves, loves that YA readers have a hefty appetite for the paranormal.
                My first novel manuscript, completed before “Young Adult” existed as a stand-alone genre, featured new college graduates and definitely possessed paranormal flair.  Like Darius Rucker writing country (“Let Her Cry”) while he was still a-rockin’ (Hootie and the Blowfish), I guess I was YA when YA wasn’t cool.  Yet, what about my go-to novels for writer’s block cure?  What did Charlotte Bronte and Mark Twain write?  They wrote about young people on the verge of life’s toughest challenges and most attractive promises.  Bronte avoided gratuitous explicit content.  Can’t say the same for Twain, but we are less likely to forget the harsh history of life for young people in this country due to his candor.  Both sprinkled paranormal content through their stories, even if both tended to do so by debunking it. (Why, who knew?  That ghost haunting me isn’t a ghost at all: it’s my fiancé’s mad wife rattling about the attic…).  So if my writing has always been paranormal Young Adult, I guess my tastes have, too.  Thanks again, merry mentors, for setting me on the right path.
                But here’s what I love most about YA as a genre: Young Adult novels and Young Adult writers give reading back to young people in a way that was missing for many years.  When I was growing up, there were children’s books and there were adult books.  Then R. L. Stine and J. K. Rowling came along.  Add a dash of Stephenie Meyer and you’ve got a whole generation of young people who have taken ownership of reading again.  It’s just cool to be a part of that.
                I’d love to hear what you think is the best thing about the Young Adult genre.  Why do you love to read it?  Do you think many authors of classic novels were actually YA authors?  Thanks for reading, and thanks stopping by!

photo credit: NemesisINC/shutterstock

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