YA is a relatively new phenomenon in my opinion, of course we can trace teenage books back decades. We can’t ignore the likes of Judy Blume starting out back in the seventies or Melvin Burgess beginning in the nineties. However, let’s be honest, books that bridged the gap between children and adult reading have only recently (in the last decade or so) come in to their own as a recognised category. And I couldn’t be happier! I’m 26 and although I read my fair share of “adult” books I don’t think I will ever outgrow YA novels the way you do with children’s books (apart from Harry Potter…you never outgrow HP!).
I am an aspiring author and have written stories since I was about eight. I write fiction from all genre’s including children and adult books but I always find myself most comfortable writing YA and let me tell you why…
Young Adult books work in a different way to every other age range, just like the adolescent brain, which works differently to every other period in your life! Let’s take for example, sex yes SEX, I said it. Now quite obviously sex has no place in a children’s book and yes sex is used liberally in adult’s books however it takes on a different meaning in a YA novel. This is because, for many, sex is a pivotal moment in people’s lives and as a teenager whether you’re having it or not, it is something that occupies your mind. So when writing “teenage” fiction and exploring relationships, love and yes, sex, you are writing something that in someway everyone can relate to. (Okay I’ve said sex too many times now!) There are certain things in live that occur in those awkward teenage years that nearly everyone in the world can relate to and I don’t think you can say that about many other “genres”. Although at first YA might seem like a closed off category, it is in fact broad enough to not only bridge the gap but to walk on over it.
I also believe that because YA is still in its early stages in literature it can afford to push the boundaries. It doesn’t have a prescribed set of rules the way I think children and adult fiction does because its history doesn’t stretch as far. Much in the same way that we are able to trace the evolution of the children’s book, we are now beginning the history of YA books. Because of this, YA writers are able to explore different and new ways of writing. Personally I find YA to be far more experimental, yes it doesn’t always work but it is fascinating when it does. Now just because the writing in YA can sometimes seem rather relaxed, with the usual rules of grammar not always applying, it doesn’t mean that it is easy! Far from it, in fact the more I write YA the more I realise just how complicated it can be writing for a teenage audience as an adult. My one piece of advice would be to tread carefully! I think that this category more than most is aimed at an extremely impressionable audience and because of this writers have a certain responsibility to their readers. It can be a dangerous sea to swim in.
So there’s your long winded explanation of why I write YA! Now I have to mention what an amazing audience there is out there for YA. Enthusiasm for young adult books seems to just explode out of its readers! From blogs to Instagram to twitter it is easy to see just how appreciative the YA readers are, always eager to consume new styles and topics that are continually being explored in this type of fiction. And I can’t deny that I am one of them!
When I’m reading a new book I always get the niggling feeling I’ve read it before. It’s not surprising when you think about how much literature is out there and how far back it stretches! However (discounting the heavy influence of books like Twilight and The Hunger Games) I find most YA books to be refreshing! A new way of reading and because of this I’m not sure I’ll ever stop reading it and why should I? Why is there still a stigma around adults reading “teenage” books?
I’m not embarrassed to stand up and say I am 26 and I read, love and appreciate books for young adults! I hope that the emerging qualities found in these books continue to grow and outdo themselves and I for one am excited to see its progression. These books are influencing a new generation of readers and writers and I hope that this trend doesn’t end.
Wow that was a much longer post than I expected. I congratulate you if you made it to the end!