I just recently got back from San Francisco, where I had an opportunity to meet a couple of really great YA types. We talked about my book, how I would surely be famous soon, my outfits - you know, all the stuff of a well-balanced conversation.
But more importantly, I had the opportunity to meet two people who are heavily invested in young adult literature - one from the writing side, the other from the business side (although she writes too). As we talked, I realized how hungry I am for insightful discussion (friendships?) that share a love for young adult books.
Without sounding too arrogant, most people who are unfortunate enough to run into me in the YA section of the book store are at a different place. I love YA. I read almost predominantly YA fiction. But, as a YA writer, I tend to come at it from a different perspective. Now, what this perspective is could be debated. Am I an elitist? Do I scoff at people who read books that use awful words like smolder to describe the way a vampire's eyes look?** (No and Yes.)
My perspective, I guess, is maybe more of a deep interest - one I hope will be an invested, professional interest at some point. I love YA because it doesn't carry the baggage that 'serious', 'adult' fiction seems to bring. The idea that there HAS to be a message. That it can't just be fun. YA, I think, will eventually grow out of the small section in the back of the bookstore. In many ways, it already has.
This growth comes from the urgency in the writing. It comes from the sometimes confounding hope that all teenagers have in their life. Their big ideas. Their sense of invincibility. Their fear that life won't work out in the exact way the have it planned. At the very least, it makes me think about that time in my life - the stupidity and glory of it all - and I am transported back.
Rarely does adult fiction transport me anywhere (besides back to the library or bookstore.) It's not necessarily a harsh critique, as much as it is an observation. I recently spoke with another writer about his book idea about a mormon family that did something and then they did something else and the whole thing made me want to take a nap.
I hope that doesn't sound terrible. Because this guy is a great writer. And his book has already generated interest from multiple agents. But when he asked about MY book and MY agent....well....
Let's just say that dropping the young adult label got me a polite smile.**
That arrogance, the opinion that adult fiction is somehow more serious, or even better than YA doesn't make sense to me. Yes, I titled this post "Adult Books Suck". I hope the irony is evident. I would never look at somebody carrying a copy of THE LOST SYMBOL and snicker to my YA buddies. I just wonder what happens when the bookstore becomes filled with more YA books. How does that attitude change?
Do you run into this in your writing? Is it limited to kid lit only?
*To be fair, I don't want to trash TWILIGHT too much. It's just the whole his eyes smoldered like an extinct volcano of love stuff got old. I get it. He's hot.
**He didn't know I'm kind of ninja-ish. And he was pretty huge. Plus, I'm not as fast as I used to be. I apologized to him for even thinking about a come back like, I got your Adult Novel right here, sucka!