Larissa Ione and I were having a twitter chat one day talking about pen names. (This was when I was writing my “What Would Your Pen Name Be?” post) She doesn’t use a pen name but said she would use one for her Young Adult (YA) series if it sold. My first thought was “Larissa is thinking of writing a YA series?!” My second thought was “Why would she want to write a YA series?” And that is where the idea for this post came from.
It seems that more and more ‘adult’ authors are also writing YA series. Being the overly nosy curious person that I am, I immediately wondered why that was exactly. When I asked Larissa why she wanted to write a YA book, she told me:
“Because my son asked me to write a zombie story/something he could read that I wrote. He’s 14. We both have mad love for zombies, so I said I’d write him a zombie book.”
I love that answer! Of course, one answer wasn’t enough for me. I couldn’t just stop at Larissa’s answer. Nope. I had to ask more authors. So I sent out emails and got some pretty cool responses.
My email asked: Why did you decide to venture into YA after establishing yourself in the Romance/Urban Fantasy/Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre?
Here is what the authors I emailed had to say:
My answer is pretty simple: Because I started reading YA and loved it. 😉
While the first novel I ever wrote was romance, the second was YA (Pretty Souls). And the third. And the fourth. I actually didn’t get back into writing adult stuff until November 2009 when I wrote the first version of Badlands. With me, part of it was writing shorter pieces that I couldn’t sell to New York led me to the arms of e-publishers. Once there, I realized the trend thing that had to be hit right when it happened in New York lasted a lot longer in digital publishing. So, I dusted off Pretty Souls, cleaned it up, and submitted. It was picked up right away. I’d sub more of my young adult novels to digital publishers now if I wasn’t already staring at four series to keep tabs on…though, I’m a never say never kind of girl.
YA was my first love from the day I decided to take my writing seriously ten years ago — and it’s currently my first love (tied with urban fantasy) to read. It took me much longer to get published in YA than it did in PNR, but now things are swimming along to the point that I am writing mostly YA. MY PNR series have all ended and now I find that I’m more interested in exploring other genres and giving myself the chance to stretch my legs. However, no matter what genre I write, there will always be a very strong romance element. The section of the bookstore might change, as will the ages of the characters, but I believe the flavor of my books remains the same and I hope my readers will give me a chance in other genres.
One day, I had an idea that I thought would work better as a YA story than as an adult urban fantasy story, so I decided to try writing a YA book and see what would happen. That was the start of TOUCH OF FROST and the rest of my Mythos Academy YA urban fantasy series. Plus, you always want to stretch yourself and grow as a writer. So far, writing YA has been a really fun challenge, and I’m having a blast writing in the genre.
My books have always appealed to YA readers. I’ve been getting enthusiastic emails from them since Poison Study was first published, so I think it was a very natural segue. Plus when I dreamt the idea for Inside Out, I knew the main protagonist would be younger and that it would be ideal for YA readers. On a side note – all my books are published as YA in both the United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand.
In part, YA was a new mountain for me to climb. I thrive on challenges, constantly pitting myself at new heights to see if I can hit them, and if so, how high can I soar? Additionally, I had the dystopian idea for a society where people didn’t live to be very old for a host of reasons, and that’s a natural fit for YA. The protagonists have to be younger if they don’t live long. So the world-building dictated the age of my heroine, and once I realized she was only fifteen, I knew it had to be YA. I was excited to tackle a new genre and find out if I could execute my idea successfully. It has been so rewarding, moreso than I could’ve imagined.
Teen readers are passionate and engaged. They write me more letters. I got one recently from a girl who graduated high school this past June. She said lovely things about Deuce, Fade, and Enclave, and then she told me she intends to study English Literature, just like I did, because I inspire her. That’s an amazing legacy.
I had an idea inspired by my second adult novel, Stolen, but it was about supernaturals just coming into their powers, which happens at puberty in the Otherworld, so it wouldn’t work for an adult series. That idea was in the back of my mind as I began receiving an increasing number of emails from readers I considered too young to be reading my other books! So I decided to give my YA-Otherworld-spinoff idea a try.
So there you have it. Authors write YA books for many different reasons. Some I hadn’t thought of too! And I think my curiosity has been satisfied. Well, at least until I think of something else to ask about…
A big Thank You to Larissa, Rachel, Seleste, Michelle, Jennifer, Maria, Ann and Kelley for taking the time to answer my question. I’m sure it won’t be the last time you hear from me. 😉