On The Rise: The Popularity of YA Fiction

I have recently written a YA novel, or a novel that is categorized as YA. This is a genre that I never really thought about when I was growing up, or when I was a young adult. The only consideration I took in picking a book was whether or not I could read something complex. Since I’m a science fiction and fantasy nerd, I don’t remember there being much distinction in genre regarding age group once one advanced past grammar school, or at least I don’t think it was talked about much. To us, children’s books were Judy Blume if you were into regular fiction, and Madeleine L’Engle if you were into science and interdimensional travel. But many of us, devotees of books like The Lord of the Rings didn’t give much thought to whether the issues of characters fell into an age group. They seemed ageless.

Now, though, I find myself thoroughly enjoying series that were never around when I was a kid, and mooning over all the reading I would have done if they had been. I never would have left the couch, ever. As an adult, I chewed, like a crack addict, through Harry Potter, the Uglies series, the Moorchild, and other ‘YA’ fiction. So what makes it different than good adult fiction, like the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons, or the Uplift series by David Brin? I’m not sure.

I have been told that the criteria is having a young adult protagonist or protagonists, and dealing with issues faced by young adults such as maturation. And because it is aimed at the issues of young adults, it is often, though not always, limited in maturity as far as topics involving sex or violence. That’s an interesting facet of the YA phenomenon, because I imagine that the YA market is swayed by the culture’s perception of appropriateness more than any actual barometer for what young people deal with. Many young people’s issues in different regions are powerfully influenced by issues involving sex or violence or both. It would be difficult to write a YA novel taking place in Somalia where the civil wars are going on without a profound exploration of violence in all its forms, and equally difficult to write a YA novel involving a young woman in a society in which marriage occurs around fifteen, or in which many young people end up engaging in sex work, without a discussion of sex. With that in mind, I think it is interesting what we categorize as YA, colored as it is by our perception of the ‘norm’ for issues facing young people, especially in the US.

As for its rise in popularity, I think that the current genre of YA captures for many adults, not just young people, a magic that is often missing in ‘adult’ novels. There is no comparison in anything I can remember to looking up to the ceiling in Hogwarts and seeing that whole field of floating candles, or anything like that. Lord of the Rings, and A Wrinkle In Time were the closest to magic that I remember, The Chronicles of Narnia perhaps, though I didn’t like that series. Another feature of YA that I think which appeals to adults is maybe the clarity with which many YA novels are written. I wouldn’t say that they are simple, because they are rich in character and plot, often, and the world-building can be as complete as walking into a real other world. But the lines around the key ‘problems to be solved’ by the end of the book are more clearly drawn perhaps. In a chaotic world of crashing economy, uncertain government, where everything is shifting, I think that YA novels provide kids with the same magic escape they have always given, and also provide adults with the same escape and fulfill the same need for a world where the path is clear, though the characters often risk more than we do in our daily lives.

See what other answers our other YA authors have:

http://www.refractedlightreviews.com Danny Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews

http://pattilarsen.blogspot.com Patti Larsen, Author of The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, the Hunted series, and the Hayle Coven novels.

http://courtneycolewrites.wordpress.com Courtney Cole, Author of Every Last Kiss, Fated, Princess, and Guardian. Also a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://wrenemerson.wordpress.com Wren Emerson, Author of I Wish and a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.

http://laurasmagicday.wordpress.com Laura Elliott, Author of Winnemucca.

http://nicoleawilliams.blogspot.com Nichole A. Williams, Author of Eternal Eden, and the upcoming Fallen Eden. She is also participating in the Glassheart Chronicles.
http://fisheramelie.com/blog/ Fisher Amelie, Author of The Understorey, as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://amyjonesyaff.blogspot.com Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://thewarriorseries.blogspot.com T. R. Graves, Author of Warriors of the Cross.
http://ctefft.blogspot.com Cyndi Tefft, Author of Between
http://pjhoover.blogspot.com P.J. Hoover, Author of Solstice, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, The Necropolis.
http://www.aliciamccalla.com Alicia McCalla, Author of the upcoming science-fiction novel Breaking Free.

http://heathercashman.com/better_off_read Heather Cashman, Author of Perception.

http://www.abbiglines.com Abbi Glines, Author of Breathe, and the upcoming Existence and Vincent Boys.

http://cidneyswanson.blogspot.com/ Cidney Swanson, Author of Rippler.

http://cherischmidt.blogspot.com, Cheri Schmidt, Author of Fateful, Fractured, and Fair Maiden, Fire Dancer

http://www.lexusluke.com/, Lexus Luke, Author of Manitou, The Sky People Saga, Fire Breather

http://www.suzyturner.com/, Suzy Turner, Author of December Moon and Raven, Dragonslayer

http://kasi-kcblake.blogspot.com/, K. C. Blake, Author of Vampire Rules, Elephant Trainer

http://hereventuality.blogspot.com/, Gwenn Wright, Author of Filter, Ring-Leader

http://kimberlykinrade.com/, Kimberly Kinrade, Author of Bits of You, Pieces of Me and Forbidden Mind, Prestidigitator

http://jlbryanbooks.blogspot.com/, J.L. Bryan, Author of Paranormals series- Jenny Pox. Tommy Nightmare & Alexander Death

http://darbykarchut.com/ Darby Karchut, Author of Griffin Rising, and soon Griffin Fire

http://puttingpentopage.com/ Heather Self

http://brynabutler.wordpress.com/ Bryna Butler, author of the Midnight Guardian series

And see what’s new in YA books and happenings!

In preparation for December’s release of Guardians of the Cross, author T. R. Graves is sending out a coupon which will allow the most-recent edition Warriors of the Cross Click here to downloaded forFREE. Enter coupon LY87N good through 12/20/11.

Books I and II in The Raven Saga (Raven & December Moon) by Suzy Turner, are now available in paperback! Get your copy from Amazon now.

The Valkyrie Novels, a series of 3 novels- Dead Radiance, Dead Embers and Dead Chaos, by T.G. Ayer will be published in 2012 by the amazing team at Evolved Publishing. See T.G. Ayer’s announcement here!

Forbidden Mind by Kimberly Kinrade has just been awarded the 2011 Forward National Literature Award! Learn more about this YA paranormal thriller/romance here.

Melissa Pearl, YA author of Golden Blood has just started a new blog called YAlicious. It’s a blog to celebrate YA fiction and aimed at teens and readers of YA. Swing on by and check it out!

Don’t forget to vote for the Goodreads Semifinalists at  http://www.goodreads.com/award/choice/2011#56599-Best-Horror    A fellow author has an entry:


3 Responses to “On The Rise: The Popularity of YA Fiction”

  1. These are some really great thoughts! thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. My dad read me TLOTR when I was six and I cut my reading teeth on Isaac Asimov and Marion Zimmer Bradley. But there is something about YA that attracts me, both as a reader and a writer.

    Great post!

  3. Thanks so much for your support and for sharing. I always enjoy your very insightful blogs.

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