I used to avoid YA novels on principal. Many moons ago, when I was a teenager, the Young Adult novel market was a small one and many of the books I came across were romance, which were great until I realized real life doesn’t work that way and in my disappointment, turned to fantasy – still my favorite genre – which hadn’t yet exploded onto the YA scene. (One author I discovered who DID write YA fantasy even back then, who I still read today, was/is Mercedes Lackey.) So I deliberately avoided the YA section in bookstores.
Then four years ago, I heard about this phenomenon called “Twilight.” The movie posters interested me – yes, I’m just that shallow – and I’d seen the first three novels fly off the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble and wondered what all the hype was about. This was a Young Adult novel. I didn’t think it held any magic for me.
I read the book anyway. And then I read the next one, and the third and the fourth. After seeing the movie, I reread the entire series. Then re-watched the movie. Several times. I’ve watched every sequel – own them, in fact – and greatly anticipate the final film – come on November! My cadre of writer acquaintances for the most part view Stephanie Meyers as a red-headed step-child of the writing market. And after writing my own novel – which took me two years instead of Meyer’s reported three months – I concede that they may have a point. But the woman is making big bucks on her series, not to mention the royalties she earns on the movies and all the movie merch.
I remained skeptical, however, of YA novels in general, despite the recurring recommendations of my best friend, a fellow writer. When one of my mentors suggested that my debut novel might be a good fit for the YA market, I adamantly refused to consider the possibility.
Last year I began seeing articles and cast announcements about The Hunger Games movie, a full year before its theatrical release. I held out on reading the novel until February of this year – not only was it YA, but also post-apocalyptic dystopian (try saying that fast!), a sub-genre I’d never been a fan of. The Hunger Games only lasted three days. By the end of one week, I’d completely absorbed the trilogy. Those three novels grabbed hold of me, shook and slapped me around, and evoked emotions I rarely feel even reading adult sci/fi fantasy novels. I laughed, cried, snickered and yelled at the characters. I wanted to BE Katniss Everdeen – another state of emotion I rarely feel with my beloved adult sci/fi fantasy novels. And experiencing the movie only drew me deeper into the disturbing magic of The Hunger Games.
In the last five months, I’ve deliberately haunted the YA sections of bookstores and scooped up every novel that attracted my attention – as finances have allowed. I’m trying my hand at writing reviews – some of which will appear in this blog – to share my love for these novels, to increase my writing/reviewer creds, and to increase my reading-as-a-writer acuity…And I’ve slowly thawed to the idea that my novel might be a good fit for this market.