Eventually, someone always asks me, “Why do you write YA? When are you going to write an adult novel?”
I try not to snort too loudly in their direction.
The thing is, it’s not like it’s an accident that I write Young Adult novels and it’s not like I’m just going to quit. YA is not the training wheels of adult literature.
In fact, if I may get on my soapbox for a moment, it’s my opinion that what makes YA a genre actually has little to do with the main character’s age. It is, in fact, the least important aspect of the genre. What makes a YA novel YA is: a fast-paced plot, dynamic characters and a character who is discovering his or her place in the world (this is where the age of the character tends to come into play).
These are the things I love in the books I read. I want a page-turner. I want excitement. The key here is a character who changes and, for the first time, sees his or her place in society.
An author friend of mine, Alan Gratz, defined the difference between YA and middle grade novels as this: in a middle grade novel, the main character still sees the world as it directly relates to him or her. The novel will focus on the main character’s family, for example, or perhaps the community – but the focus is pretty tight within those constrains. A YA novel, on the other hand, may start in a close location, but the main character must realize who he or she is in the world. This can be as simple as first love, or as complex as saving society (alternatively, it can also be as simple as saving society and as complex as first love).
In all honesty, I constantly question myself in my world. Is what I am doing important? Can I make a difference? Should I just give up? In all honesty, I hope I never quit questioning myself. I don’t have all the answers. I’m still trying to find my place in the world.
That is why I write YA – and why I will probably only ever write YA.
Beth Revis’s author website: www.bethrevis.com
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