Why I write YA

28 Dec

I’m a YA writer. That means I write for teenagers, approximately 13-19 years old, who come under the umbrella term ‘young adult’.

To be honest with you, I’m not sure how it happened.

When I finally stopped dreaming about writing, got my bum in the chair and just did it, I wasn’t thinking about markets, genres or publication. All I wanted to do was get this damned idea out of my head and on the page. It was just one of the hundreds of stories I’ve dreamed up over the years, but it was more insistent than the rest – like a little bee buzzing away at the back of my brain. Plus, I was alone in a drafty bungalow in a tiny Greek village where I couldn’t go out for fear of being mauled by wild dogs (I exaggerate…just). I had time to spare.

afidnes

Afidnes, which is actually a lovely place, as you can see

It was only later that I realised I’d written something that might fit into this category ‘YA’. I had a teenage protagonist, a fast-moving plot and, somehow, I’d managed to tag onto the underworld/Hades/grim reaper mini-trend that was happening in 2009-10. When I thought about all my other ideas too, they were also a good fit. YA seemed perfect for the adventurous and action-packed (yet romantic) stories I was coming up with.

By another stroke of good fortune, I’d come to YA at a brilliant time for the genre. We may slag off Stephenie Meyer till the cows come home, but she (and, to some extent, J.K. before her) made teen fiction a booming business – and not just for Twilight rip-offs. I realised that, in this genre, there was a really good chance of getting my books published – and reaching an eager audience, both of teenagers and, increasingly, adults.

As I did more research, I found there were so many great books that had been published in the eight or so years since I’d moved on from teen-lit myself. My choice was a little limited while I was in Greece (restricted to the Eleftherodakis English section), but I would pick up a few and sit in the top floor of the bookshop reading for the afternoon. I soon realised that I not only loved writing YA, I also loved reading it! Well-written YA books are absorbing, heart-stopping and brilliant escapism. With teenage protagonists, emotional conflicts become magnified and every decision feels like it has universal significance (and indeed it might, given YA’s proclivity towards the fantastical and speculative). What’s more, your story has to grab attention from the very first page to even stand a chance of wresting young readers away from their phones or PSPs.

That first novel is now snoozing soundly in the trunk, but I’m still writing for teens. YA lit is going strong, and I can’t wait to add my own books to the shelf!

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4 Responses to “Why I write YA”

  1. kristin lee johnson December 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    good luck!

  2. Cassie December 30, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Woohoo! Good luck and happy blogging from a fellow hopeful YA writer. I’m actually working on a MG project right now, but I’ve got a scrambled mess of two YA novels stuffed under the old mattress.

    • catherinequeenwrites December 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Brill 🙂 I have a couple of MG ideas rattling around, but I don’t read very much for that age group these days so I’m less familiar with the style.

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