Monday, February 28, 2011

Let’s do it for Johnny, man! Or, Why write for teenagers?

When I tell people, some people, that I write YA fiction, their facial expressions vary from raised to furrowed eyebrows. But the head nod remains the same. “Why young adults; don’t you want to write real fiction?” Someone actually asked me that. Apparently, they hadn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy or gone past the 3rd Harry Potter book. Young Adult fiction isn’t what it used to be. Don’t get me wrong. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton will forever be in my top ten of all time. After all, in eighth grade, I was convinced I was going marry Ponyboy and live on a ranch. My best friend at the time, naturally, would be walking down the aisle with Johnny, once he finished the Karate Kid movies that is.  And to this day I can’t see Rob Lowe on Brothers and Sisters or his most recent guest appearances on Californication without thinking “Sodapop Curtis,” and let’s face it, the man doesn’t age. So, why do I write for young adults? I have a question of my own. Why not?

YA novels today have guts (The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins). They give you the chills (Shiver, by Maggie Steifvater), show the damage (Freefall, by Mindi Scott), exploit the sinister side of the cool and beautiful (A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray), expose the truth (Witch Child, by Celia Rees), and make you believe in miracles (If I Stay, by Gayle Foreman). Surrounded by news of a failing economy, intolerance, skyrocketing divorce rates and war, I need an escape. I want to write a world where things going bump in the night are on the page, not the news channel. Young adult books today have incredible story lines, written by talented authors who push boundaries in fiction. So maybe I'm not "doing it for Johnny. I'm doing it for readers and lovers of fiction. And if you pick up a new YA book today, you won’t be disappointed.

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