Saturday, June 7, 2014

I write about teens and for teens

This past week, there was yet another article posted about YA lit that caused a lot of controversy. I didn't read the article, because I didn't want to add another click, but I gather that the gist was basically this: adults who read YA should be ashamed of themselves.

Whatever. We've heard it before. When I saw people on twitter talking about it, I just rolled my eyes. Again. For approximately the fifty-second time.

I proudly read YA, and MG too. It is rare for me to pick up a book written for adults, because they often bore me. (I did, however, finish THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin recently and really enjoyed it). More and more adults are reading YA, and that's great! Just like we are allowed to pick what we watch on TV, decide what we put in our mouths, we, as adults, are also allowed to read whatever the heck we want. No shame, people.

There are some authors that have huge legions of adult fans. Melina Marchetta comes to mind. Also, Maggie Stiefvater. A.S. King. Stephanie Perkins. Andrew Smith. Cassie Clare and Laini Taylor. Now, lots and lots of teens love their books too. But I know these names come up again and again by adults who read and love YA.

The thing is, you will not find my name mentioned very often by adults who read YA. And I'm not saying that to get sympathy or whatever, it's just a fact. Are there some adults who enjoy my YA books? Sure. But not many, really. Yesterday on twitter, some YA authors were talking about how they don't write *for* teens, they write *about* teens. That anyone can read them and enjoy them, and I get what they're saying. I also feel like that is what the market wants right now - YA novels that are about teens but that anyone will read and enjoy.

I'm not sure my books fit in with that notion, and it scares me a little bit. Because what I *don't* want to happen is for the teens to be forgotten in all of this.

Editor Julie Strauss-Gabel tweeted something that I really liked yesterday.

Although teens of all ages read my books, they've especially found a sweet spot with 7th and 8th graders. It can be a tough time for them, reading-wise, because they are over middle grade novels, but many of the YA novels have content that they may not be ready for. When I'm writing my YAs, I try to keep that 13-year-old in mind. Maybe, technically, I'm not supposed to do that. Maybe I'd be a lot more successful if I didn't do that. Maybe my career will be over soon because I'm doing it all wrong.

I don't know.

I did an event last weekend in the Dalles at Klindt's bookstore, the oldest bookstore in Oregon. Here are all of the authors along with some of the staff.

And here I am at my table, talking with a couple of teens.

When I walked up to my table, about ten minutes before the official start time for the event, there was a teen with her mom, standing there, waiting for me. I can't remember her name for sure. It started with an M. Mikayla maybe?

Anyway, M. had two new books in hand, one of which she'd read but wanted her own, signed copy, and another she hadn't read yet. She said, "I should have brought my other books from home for you to sign." She paused and quietly said, "You're my favorite author."

I may not be mentioned much on twitter by adults who read YA. I may not be the one people think of as an author who writes great YA for any age. I may not ever write a YA novel that sells enough copies, to adults and teens alike, to hit the NYT bestseller list. There is a lot I don't know, and even more I worry and wonder about when it comes to this sometimes-crazy business of writing YA novels.

But I do know this. I love reading YA lit, and I love writing it too. And I am at least one teen's favorite author. I can't even express how honored I am by that.

1 comment:

  1. I think if I ever had a teen tell me that I was their fav author, I'd prolly start crying, lol! Such a neat experience. The event sounded great, love that sign!