There are lots of reasons why I write and read YA. I don’t write or read it exclusively, but it seems to dominate my choices at a subconscious level. Whenever I put fingers to keyboard for a new story, invariably, a teenager appears. Maybe it’s because I’m drawn to young people in life (or people who have a young outlook). Maybe it’s because I have a misguided attachment to my battered old Converse which means you’ll have to prise them from my cold, dead feet, regardless of how embarrassing my kids find it. Maybe it’s because I’m clinging stubbornly to my own lost youth. I’m not sure I can really say why I lean towards YA – you might as well ask why I like the colour green.
Whatever Freud would have to say, I love to write characters of this age. They escape the constraints that dictate the actions of the rest of us. There’s a whole new world opening up for them, endless possibilities still to be written. I write younger protagonists from time to time under a pen name and, while they have just as much fun, mostly I have the watchful eye of a parent or guardian to take into consideration. Young adult protagonists have more freedom to go out into the world on their own but without the burdens that adults have. It’s a time of massive transition – of finding yourself, who you really are, what sort of person you’re becoming – and for me, that’s so exciting. With a young adult protagonist you can pursue emotional arcs that you can’t with any other age group.
Another genre is fast emerging in the book world too, that of New Adult. This genre is one I’m currently trying to write in, and I have to say that I’m finding the challenge exciting. It’s taking me out of my writing comfort zone and allowing me to explore some of the themes that Young Adult only begins to touch on in more depth. I’ve heard it said that this genre is just an excuse to let teenagers in books have sex, but I don’t agree. I think that YA stories can and do already do that. By the same token, I think that NA stories don’t have to be limited by sex either. Just as adults don’t spend all their waking hours thinking about it, there’s no reason why New Adults have to, and nobody complains when being presented with a book about adults where sex does not happen. Mine is still very much a work in progress, and it’s hard to say how it will turn out, but I’m having fun experimenting!