This article in Louisville, Kentucky’s, Courier Journal was tweeted to me recently. It discusses the growing numbers of adult readers consuming so-called Young Adult fiction.
I don’t think it’s a new thing. I do think it’s a good thing and not just for the obvious, self-interested reason. As I wrote in one of my first ever blog posts a good story is a good story. It should contain truths for readers of all ages, especially the young-adult-at-heart.
When I complete a manuscript for my novels I shop it around to friends and family for feedback. My oldest test reader is almost 100 so it’s an incredible effort for her to read an A4 manuscript. She doesn’t care that the protagonists are teens. She’s all about the story.
For Five Parts Dead my other test readers included a Tarot-reading friend with experience in matters spiritual and paranormal, two obliging teenagers, two or three Kangaroo Island locals, a secondary teacher, a crime-fiction addicted masseuse, my parents and my Tarot-reading wife. Everyone brought different experiences and opinions to their reading and the finished product will be better for their input.
I’m getting off the track. There are lots of pros and not too many cons to being a YA author. Here are a few:
– There’s a certain snobbery out there. Writing for adults seems to be considered more prestigious than writing for children or teenagers.
– Australia has numerous fantastic YA authors yet, as multi-award-winning YA wordsmith Simmone Howell has pointed out, we don’t see them on the tele. John Marsden might be the exception to that rule and even with that exposure few Australians appreciate the international superstar John is.
– The YA aisle tends to be tucked away in the back of bookstores so adult readers are less likely to browse or even enter the teen zone unless they know what they’re looking for.
– I suspect adult fiction attracts better advance$ than YA. Guess I won’t really know until I write a grown up book.
– Hey, everyone says teens are reluctant readers. The teens I talk to aren’t. Whatever the case, I’m rapt if I can get any reader to persevere from the front to back cover of my stories – but uber-impressed when I hear from a teenager who says “your book is the first I ever read”.
– As Cory Doctorow says, it’s an honour to be telling stories for and about young people during such a formative part of their lives. There are books I read as a teenager that have had an indelible impact on the person I am today.
– Writing for YA readers helps preserve the Peter Pan in my mind.
– I get to visit schools and work with fantastically creative young minds before the adult world pummels them into jaded and world-weary submissiveness.
– It’s a great time to be writing YA fiction thanks to JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Lian Hearn, Markus Zusak and countless other “crossover” authors.
I could go on. I won’t. I’m chuffed to be a YA author… or stoked, as some might say.
Next time you’re out to buy a book, please give the YA shelves a gander, regardless of the date on your birth certificate.