|I’m in the wrong business.|
Wow, I made that title sound cranky.
To say that YA fiction has been growing in popularity in recent years would be an understatement. Everywhere bookshelves are expanding to include “teen titles” and a vast majority of the author blogs I follow are those of YA authors. (The others seem to mostly be writers of erotic gay fiction. Oh my.) While all of this seems to have happened behind my back, it would be disingenuous for me to say that I don’t see the main reasons why this trend may be occurring. But this blog post isn’t about analyzing why YA has become so popular – this is about me going BLAAAAAAAH I don’t write YA~
When I was “middle grade” age, I wrote about teenagers. When I was a teenager I wrote about college students. When I was a college student I wrote about late-twenty-somethings. Now that I’m a twenty-something I tend to write about characters still older than me, all the way up to middle age. Heck, some of my favorite characters I write are elderly. But there’s nary a teen and even fewer kids. (In fact, most of my characters don’t even want kids or work around them.) And the themes are definitely not young adult oriented, although certainly I wouldn’t mind if “young adults” read them and connected to them in their own way.
I think the easiest way for me to explain why I always write about characters older than me (or more my age, as I get older) can be best described through something I read a few months ago on another blog. I don’t remember who said it or where exactly, but I do remember what this author said. They said, the paraphrase, that they wrote and read YA because “adults are jaded, cranky, and haunted by their pasts. Teens are full of potential and optimism about the lives ahead of them. That’s to say, adults hang on to what ‘could have been’ and that’s depressing.” I’m the exact opposite in my thinking in this manner. I find adults way more fascinating than teens or children. I feel like I’ve read “first love”, “first heartbreak”, “first job” and “firstfirstfirst” so many times (not to mention, already lived it) that it all runs together. While these topics are certainly big in our society, and inevitably shape who we are, I feel like it really gives older adults and their experiences the epic shaft. Yes, most of my characters are on their third serious relationship, working the corporate ladder, getting a mortgage, and staying awake at night thinking about how “the world ahead of them” and optimism and potential are all utter bullshit. They are mirrors of what a lot of current adults want an escape from, but I find them fascinating.
My characters usually start their stories doing their thing, living their routines, mumbling about stuff, and then wake up one day to find that everything they had established for themselves has come into question…or has been thrown out the window entirely. In our (western, American to be more specific) society we’re pretty much taught that our lives end at 30, and all growing, learning, and feeling ends with our metabolism. Only “young people” get to experience new exciting things in the world, damnit. I like to read and write stories that challenge this thinking and remind us that life is always going, always changing, and even though we may become bitter and cynical that any positive change is still possible, even if sometimes unlikely.
There’s also the fact that I enjoy writing romance and erotica, and that’s not as fun to write with inexperienced teens, thanks. I prefer my romantic characters to be experienced and confident in themselves. Things are still changing, but I get to skip all that first time angst.
So, what about you? Do you prefer YA or adult fiction or don’t care? And if you do prefer one or the other, why is that? WHY?!