Friday, June 10, 2011

Why do I Write YA?

Ghenet Myrthil, over at All About Them Words is co-hosting a blogfest about, well, why people write YA.

Why do I write YA? It's not the only thing I write and, in fact, my current WIP is my first attempt at YA. I didn't set out to write a YA novel, but simply to write the story pounding away at my brain. It was the characters who led me to writing YA. They're teenagers, and it's a story of their survival without adults around to guide them. Had the story been about a group of adults, it would have been a regular ol' novel for grown ups.

I will say, though, that I enjoy the YA age group in real life, so writing for them is fun. It seems I'm always around a teen for one reason or another, and I always leave that interaction in a good, and often creative, mood. I remember what it was like to be able to walk around and just be myself, not worried about meeting some lame idea of socially acceptable motherly behavior. The creativity was always flowing when I was a teen, and it was okay to be weird and to express myself. There is a certain freedom in being a teenager that we lose in adulthood.

On the flip side of that, I also remember the pressures and stresses of being a teenager. I remember people judging me based on my age, automatically assuming I was up to some mischief or other, simply because there was a one at the beginning of the number that happened to be my age. Rather than other mothers judging what kind of mother I am, it was my teen peers judging me. School and work took up most of my time. I was often made to feel like a second class citizen. My bosses took advantage of my being a teen. I could probably go on forever, as it seems age doesn't necessarily dull the edges of these issues, but I think that's good enough.

In Lonely Hollow: Synthesis, the young adults in my story are proving on a daily basis that they can take care of themselves. They can run a town successfully, keep themselves fed and even deal with adults who try to take advantage of them because they are isolated and sans adult protectors or guides. It's a bit of an homage to those who are going through the things I've already been through, and I can only hope that I do them proud, because they are the reason I was able to embrace this story and write it in the way it was meant to be written.

Happy Writing!


  1. Hi Shannon - so glad you're doing this summer blog hop - and I got my lucky number, 13, so I'm thrilled! (Also a SheWrites sister)

    I think we write the stories we write in the appropriate voice - which might well mean YA. Good for you for respecting that.

  2. Just remember that just because it has teen characters, it isn't necessarily YA. YA is about voice and tone, not just the age of the characters.

    Your book sounds really interesting. I'd read it!

  3. I remember that bit of judgment on age, too. And I remember being treated like a kid, but then being told to "act my age," like I WASN'T a kid. It was a confusing time, but also a wonderful time! I learned a lot about who I wanted to be during those years.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. I love writing me it's always seemed like that stage in life is a time when anything can happen--I think one blogger said YA is teeming with "possiblities," and that is so true!

    Teenhood is indeed a roller coaster. That much is true! Awesome entry. :) I loved participating in this blogfest.


  5. Beverly, I've always found the number 13 to be lucky, too. Are you doing Meg's She Writes blog hop?

    Kate, good point! And thank you!

    Shallee, oh yes, very confusing. I don't think adults know quite what to make of teens, either.

    TRA, I like that (anything can happen) and I agree. This was a great blogfest!

  6. What I love about YA books is their simplicity and transparancy. To be perfectly honest, I had grown tired of reading adult literature in my 20's because it was too damn "cerebral". I find YA books to be so much more honest and forthcoming with emotions and even metaphors. I don't need fancy language or intellectual jabbering in order for me to enjoy a book. I just need a great story without a lot of fluff and memorable characters. I almost always find that in a YA. (Not that I don't find it in adult books, I just don't see it as frequently as in YA.) I love writing YA for the same reasons.

  7. I like the premise for your book, though it is sorta terrifying - as independant as teens (at least when I was teen) try to appear, in reality I really needed my parental security blankets at the end of the day. So glad you also reminded me of the freedom expression in the teen years - you are right it does seem once you become a mommy there are more expectations/limitations.

  8. Love the premise of the story and like you, I tend to write for teens and kids because I tend to get along better with them as people than I do with most adults. (Which is weird because when I was a teen, I got along better with adults than with my peers... but that's neither here nor there.) I think there's so much energy in the teen years, energy that comes from possibility and also frustration. It's that energy that draws me to teens and to writing for them.

    Thanks for joining in the blogfest and for sharing your story!

  9. Great post! I also feel like it's easy to get back into the mindset of a teen because many of the things I deal with now are similar to what I dealt with as a teen. Your book sounds really interesting. I think most teens believe they can take care of themselves (whether they actually can or not) so your story sounds really appealing!

    (Sorry for the late comment! I was away from my computer all weekend. Thanks for participating in our blog fest!)

  10. Jeanmarie, I agree with why you read YA. I like the sincerity and the fact that YA doesn't talk down to the reader, which adult books sometimes do.

    Margo, I agree. While I think teens are smarter and more independent than they're portrayed much of the time, there is still that bit of childhood, the need to have someone take care of them and help them through things. While the teens in my book are competent, that definitely does not mean they don't struggle and wish their parents were still there with them.

    Gabriela, I also got along better with adults as a kid. I now feel the need to analyze this, LOL. I agree with you on the energy, and it's like I can absorb a little bit of that when I spend time with them. Thank you for hosting this blogfest!

    Ghenet, I've noticed we still seem to go through a grownup version of the issues we had as teens. I guess that's part of what being a teen is all about--arming us to deal with it in our adult years, when making mistakes is as acceptable. Thank you for hosting the blogfest!