Once upon a time, right smack-dab in the middle of the Harry Potter series, I worked for Barnes & Noble. I loved that job. I started out as the lead in the children's department (can't tell you how very many picture books I own from that time...) and wound up as the Community Relations Manager. Working with books was a blast! Alphabetizing, organizing, merchandising...right up my alley. I even got to plan a midnight release party for Harry Potter #4.
Who knew that the young adult market would boom the way it has? Everyone, it seems, is reading YA novels. I work with high school drama kids now, and a couple years back, one of them was reading Twilight. I picked up a copy simply out of curiosity. Whoa. One week and four books later, I understood the attraction. The same thing happened with the Hunger Games. I had heard the hype and knew that the movie was coming...so I snagged it on my Kindle. Yup. Glad I did.
So what's the draw to YA novels? Obviously, the target audience likes to glom onto the latest trend. But I think it goes beyond that. My mom always used to say that my dad liked movies made for 14 year olds. I think there's a part of us that never really matures. A part that clings to those feelings and experiences of our youngers selves. I can tell you, I don't feel any older than I did in high school. Sure, I'd love to think that I am the most mature person on the planet, but I know better. And I proudly read YA novels.
Now I'm wondering if I should rewrite/revise my books to fit the YA market. So many agents represent YA, and YA only. I don't think it would take too much to transform my books. My style is simple. I stay away from explicit scenes, mostly because I don't like them anyway. I do have some dark events occurring, but what's darker than kids killing each other in a government-controlled game? As far as word count, I'm around the same amount as the more popular YA novels. The only thing would be to change the ages of my characters and adapt their stories slightly to fit that. It's something I am seriously considering.
This isn't to belittle what YA authors do. Even though I already knew the answers, I checked out the definitions for "middle-grade" and "young adult" fiction tonight. As I read the middle grade definition, I thought, "Man, that would be hard. As you're writing, you'd have to be in the psyche of that child character - react to things the way a child would." I can't imagine that's an easy task. I admire those who write MG/YA.
To YA or not to YA - that is the question. I have stumbled into the "genre" with another story I've started, and I'm really like it. So we'll see whether or not I attempt to join the YA ranks with my sci-fi series. I can only hope to find a smidge of the success the Big Names have enjoyed.
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Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3