I am working on my first Young Adult (YA) novel “Come Back January”, a standalone installment in a series of books.
It was after attending BookCon in New York this year, that I decided to venture into a new genre, one that welcomed me into a whole new world I had never considered, and one filled with surprises.
Here are a few things I learned about YA:
I learned that unlike other fiction sub-genres, YA is much more flexible and expansive. YA readers are more interested in a variety of topics, while Adult book readers are more branding. A bookstore holds adult novels that are divided into sections like Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Westerns, Thrillers, and more. The YA section of a bookstore welcomes readers of all genres, and invites them to peruse a variety of genres. In the YA section of a bookstore, you might find a Fantasy novel sitting next to a Romance, or a Mystery title that boasts Science Fiction cover art. Lines blur, genres blend; the YA section has something for every taste and every flavor.
Why is YA so versatile? Was it originally a genre that just went awry? The difference is not in the genre, but in the readers. YA readers are more open to trying something new and leaving their comfort zone; they’re willing to take chances.
When I was growing up, I don’t remember even hearing about YA. Yes, there were books for kids, but YA isn’t just for kids. In fact, most YA readers are well over twenty! If you’ve read and enjoyed The Lovely Bones, The Hunger Games, The Diary of Ann Frank, Twilight, Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Hopeless, or Of Mice and Men, you’ve read and enjoyed YA.
Today’s younger generations are opening a new door to freedom in reading. When kids grow up seeing Sci-Fi next to Mystery and Romance, their options are less limiting. They pick up one book after another and figure out what they like best, and if the book is well written, they might decide they like it all; that’s where non-branding comes into play.
I love that freedom. I love not being boxed in and having to identify myself as a Romance reader, or a Fantasy lover. I love the flexibility. And when YA readers move on to Adult reading, they sport greater and diverse interests like no other reader does.
YA books are not for readers ages 15 to early 20’s, but instead, it’s their characters who are around that age. New Adult (NA) novels are about the YA character who is now in college, starting a new job, making decisions for himself, living on his or her own, and has more independence; they’re a little older, in their early to mid-late 20’s. And in either YA or NA novels, family and parents can have an important role as well. It’s not just about kids or only for kids.
Some YA authors write both YA and Adult fiction (that’s what I’ve decided to do). Some YA authors claim there is more violence and sex in their YA books than in their Adult novels. Again, this is where flexibility comes in. This is also where, as a parent, seeing “YA” as a genre, does not necessarily mean the book is age appropriate. YA novels can deal with adult subjects, surrounding a younger character.
I’m excited about my new novel and this new world of reading without boundaries, and I welcome you to join me and share this excitement when I complete “Come Back January”, available in 2018.