Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Do We Read & Write Young Adult Books?

Why do I love Young Adult books? First, I love them because I'm a mom to 15 and 16 year old boys, and a ten year old girl. I've been reading out loud to my kids since they were born. I was determined to pass along my love of books and reading. Forcing a teen to read is like trying to get a toddler to eat peas. You can force it, but they will just spit it out and look at you like you are insane. Instead you provide the example, the material and you let them figure it out on their own. So, my first reason for loving YA books is I find books that my kids might enjoy. An added benefit is that because I've read them we can talk about the books with each other and have some really cool discussions.

The second reason I love YA books is because I like to read books that weren't around when I was a teenager. Back then, I jumped from Encyclopedia Brown and kid friendly mysteries to Willian Blatty...., Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. The only non-horror titles I remember reading were Go Ask Alice, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Flowers for Allgernon. My senior year in high school I discovered Science Fiction. In college I started reading J.R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Peter S. Beagle and Piers Anthony. Other than Salem's Lot by Stephen King, I don't recall reading any vampire themed fiction until I was in my 40's. I have a lot of ground to make up in the YA world and this month I've made a pretty good dent.

Why do authors write YA books? I really wanted to know, and sent out emails to a few authors asking them this very question.

My first author is Michelle Rowen, who has written two YA books, both in her Demon Princess series. Reign or Shine came out in October 2009 and Reign Check will be released on May 24, 2010. Here is Michelle's response:

Young Adult has always been my favorite genre. It was YA books that inspired me to focus my writing on something I really loved to read (L.J. Smith in the nineties). The first book I finished (as yet unpublished) was a YA about ghosts. What appeals to me is the fact that every piece of fiction out there can be encompassed within this genre -- there are no constraints other than the general age of the characters.

Also I like the idea of exploring characters as they are making the decisions and learning lessons that will take them into adulthood -- like they're "coming of age". That sounds kind of dry, but with adult books, your characters are somewhat "been there done that," but with teen books everything is fresh for them. Teens are rarely closed off, they're willing to jump in with both feet, make mistakes, fall in love for the first time, and have deep issues with friendships and school like what is happening is the end of the world. And sometimes it is. ;-) Also, I like writing YA because I can add in some romance, but the plot doesn't have to depend on it. There can be a lot of other stuff going on. In my romance novels, the romance is the most important thing to keep in mind.

You can visit Michelle at her website: where you can read the first two chapters of each book.

I'll be posting more author's opinions on YA later in the day and tonight.


angie said...

Thank you for making me feel better about reading ya books! It is so true that there were no ya books growing up. I had totally forgotten about Encyclopedia Brown! I too used to read those:)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Very neat getting an author to mention why the write YA. I like reading it as well, although lately I have not been able to get to many YA reads. But I don't think I know why I like YA. I don't think there is really a reason, other than the stories are well told by talented authors - so why not read YA?

Amanda Leigh said...

I love YA books, and continue to read them on into my mid-20s and pass some of my books on to my mom and even my grandma. I love the fact that we can all share a book. Is it gonna be everyone's favorite? No. But the stories are nice enough to where you don't have to worry too much about what you're sharing. Because some of my other books, were not made for my grandma's eye's to see. ;)