Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Some of the Reasons I Write and Read YA

Hey, I never claimed to be a whiz at titles...

Lately, I've been thinking about why I write YA. I know it's a question a lot of YA authors are asked for one reason or another and it's something my co-workers and people around me have starting asking me too. And when I explain what my book is about, I get this reaction:

"Oh, you wrote a book for teens? Isn't that nice."*

That reaction coupled with the fact that my husband and I have been on a nostalgia kick lately, really has me thinking what drew me to YA so strongly. But I guess to discuss this, I want to reveal when I found YA.

I've been writing ever since I can remember. The first thing I ever actually wrote into completion was a play for my third grade class about the planets. With the help of my classmates, we transformed the classroom into a space station and traveled space for a day. My classmates would read from a script I wrote when we arrived at each planet and I knew as I saw my words come to life that I wanted to be a writer.

I didn't seriously start writing until I was 15. I began writing this epic fantasy for 4 years that totaled about 400k words. When that book didn't pan out, I was kind of lost. I knew I wanted to write and I loved books like Maria V Snyder's Poison Study series. But I had no idea where to find them. One day I was walking up and down the bookstore aisles, trying to find something with magic and the exuberance I found in the pages of Garth Nix's Abhorsen series when I saw a book that caught my eye from across the store.

It was like love at first sight, like the powerful, overwhelming stuff I was soon going to be reading about in my books. It was a first.

That book was A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray and what was underneath that beautiful cover was even better than I'd hoped for. I found passion, magic, and a hunger I hadn't been able to find in "adult books". What's more, I found the newness of firsts. First loves, first kisses, first parties, first drinks, first friendships. And I was hooked. I'd finally found a section in the bookstore I was passionate about.

The reason I write YA is because of all the things I mentioned above and one more. It goes back to that nostalgia kick I spoke about.

I'm going to make a statement: YA is fiction.

But that doesn't mean all fiction is made up.

I met and started dating my husband at the same age I started seriously writing. At 15, I knew I had found my soul mate, the person I was meant to be with. But no one would believe me. I saw the look in my parent's and other adult's eyes when I told them I loved Brian, that he was going to be around forever. They didn't believe me because we were young so we couldn't know, right?
Young Love by FDLphoto

I write YA fiction because I believe in it. I believe that a girl and a guy can see each other across the room at age 15 and know that they are in love, that they are meant to be because I lived it. Those feelings are powerful and hypnotic and I love reliving them. I love knowing that every time I write a good teen romance, I'm proving my parents and those other adults wrong. Even if the leads don't stay together, they have that time together and those feelings are real.

I write and read young adult fiction because it speaks to me and it makes me remember what it was like to experience firsts with a wild abandonment, unburdened by bills and paychecks and Important Adult Decisions. It allows me to fall in love over and over again for the first time.

I feel so honored to be part of a community that is so passionate about what they believe in and unabashed to show it. The YA community is one of the most supportive, kind and amazing communities I've ever experienced and I can't wait to continue reading and writing and living more firsts from all different types of protagonists.

Why do you love YA fiction?

* It should be said that this isn't always the reaction but I've been getting my fair share of it already.

1 comment:

  1. This was really cool to read! I can say that I thought the soul mate thing was a trope, so it's really cool to hear someone say nope, they actually lived through it. I'm a teen and I kind of evolved into reading YA after I got bored of MG, as well as some of my favourite series were shelved in the teen section so I gradually visited that section of libraries and book stores. I've noticed from the very limited amount of adult books I've read that YA is a lot more vibrant, and frankly, entertaining. I'm lucky to have grown up reading YA stories, and now I'm 17 and I'm still into YA. :)

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex


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