Thursday, April 1, 2010

I was reading an agent's blog the other day (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/) and she was talking about the things she learned at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. One of the things I found interesting was that YA is still a hot seller. This is good news for me since I just turned my zombie novel into a YA zombie novel, and it got me thinking about YA in general.

When the agent first suggested I turn my book into YA, I scoffed. I didn't think of myself as a YA writer; I'm much grittier than that (well, in my mind I am!). Plus, I didn't really know where to begin writing the genre. I read the stuff like mad when I was a YA (Christopher Pike was and still is one of my favorites), but when I got to college, I didn't have time for it anymore (and, honestly, I thought it was a bit beneath me. English major snob, you know!). I did a little bit of research, and basically everything I found said that YA is the same as adult novels, except the main characters are teens. Although they don't want to see excessive amounts, cussing, drug use, and sex is acceptable. I thought, hell, I can do that! Even though I had to restructure my characters' relationships, I think the book turned out pretty well. Granted, I'm still waiting for that hot contract...

I believe that there is a huge misconception about what should occur in a YA novel. I have a friend who is currently reading my new version of my novel, and his first comment was, "It's still kinda gory." But if you think about readership, 15-19 year olds, gory isn't that bad. How many of you had sleepovers and watched scary movies? It's kind of a rite of passage. Plus, I think back to Christopher Pike books, and they weren't necessarily light and fluffy. He dealt with teen deaths, pregnancy, and vampires. I specifically remember one of his books (though not the title) where the teens are killed one by one in gory fashion. The most memorable: a girl is filling her car with gas and smoking a cigarette and blows up. I think we sometimes forget that the teens we are writing for are going to turn into the adults we are. Teens do know how to make their own choices about what they like and what they want to read. There's a reason book stores are as large as they are: so everyone has a choice.

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