I write Young Adult fiction. I’ve attempted to write adult fiction in the past, and I’ve attempted to write middle grade fiction. I suck at both. I’m a YA writer. My voice lends itself well to YA. And I’m sort of immature, so it’s easy for me to live in a teen mind.
Back when I was a teen, YA wasn’t the colossal genre that it is today. At the time, I read stuff for adults. I poured through all the classics, and got recommendations from my parents and their voracious reading friends. A good story is a good story, so the age of the characters never seemed like a big deal.
Now that I’m an “adult”, I really don’t like adult literature all that much. YA has a much faster snappier pace that I enjoy. Anything “literary” bores the crap out of me. I read tons of YA, partly to be familiar with the genre that I write in, but more because I really enjoy reading YA books. A good story is still a good story. And as an adult, I never mind reading well written novels about teenagers. High school is a tumultuous time. A lot of shit happens in those four years. So there are a lot of things for YA writers to write about, and it’s almost never boring.
I once heard someone say that the age of the characters doesn’t define a book as YA. Instead, a book has to have “the YA voice”. There are “adult books” about teens, that don’t have the YA voice, and are thus not considered YA. Oddly, pretty much all my favorite “adult novels” do have the YA voice.
Since it’s Christmas time, I’m currently reading “The Stupidest Angel” by Christopher Moore. I <3 Christopher Moore. His books are so funny, and his pacing is awesome. Christopher Moore and Nick Honrby are probably my two favorite “adult fiction writers”. And if either of them made their characters a couple years younger, they’d fit right in on the YA shelf. They have the voice. They have the pacing.
The characters in “The Stupidest Angel” are adults. And I found the book in the contemporary fiction section of the bookstore. But most of the teens I know would probably love this book. And if you’re an adult that loves Christopher Moore, you’d probably love most of the stuff in the YA section too. ‘Cause the age of the characters really doesn’t matter all that much. A good story is a good story. And YA is a genre not because it’s characters are all in high school. YA is a genre because YA books require a specific voice and pacing.