Why YA?

A friend asked me recently why I chose to write a young adult novel. I responded that I’d always been a fan of the genre, and that my story centered on a high school girl, so that usually made for a YA book. When I gave it more thought, though, I realized that my answer wasn’t entirely accurate. In my very first draft of the novel, the main character was a woman in her twenties. I wrote the backstory of a relationship she’d had in high school. The backstory got very long. As I kept writing, I found I didn’t want to return to the original story. The backstory turned into the main story, and because it was set in high school, the novel became for young adults. Realization one was that my novel had NOT always been YA, rather that’s what it turned into during the writing of it.

Once I realized my faulty memory about that, I also recalled I had not “always” been a fan of the genre. I read some YA when I was a young adult, and some YA much later, like Francesca Lia Block’s books. I liked children’s literature long beyond when I was technically a child, and I oversaw the children’s section for the year I worked in a used bookstore. But “always” was an overstatement that brought me to realization two: I became a fan and reader of YA because I was working on a YA manuscript, which has only been since November of 2002. I’m not obsessive or completist about it. I occasionally visit the Young Adult Library Services Association home page; it has good book lists. I also read Avenging Sybil, a weblog about young adult novels, and more specifically about portrayals of female sexuality in YA.

It was interesting that my brain had created this revisionist history. Perhaps it is my age, coupled with the fatigue of caring for an infant. Or perhaps, like so many things in my life now, my manuscript and my affection for YA novels have become so important to me that I have a hard time remembering life before them.

One Response to “Why YA?”

  1. Lady M Says:

    I totally understand the “unconscious revisionist history,” as I’ve developed a few of those myself. Useful things, aren’t they? It’s always a little alarming at first to realize it though! ;)