Thursday 14 April 2016

Inside The Author: Why Young Adult?


This is a question that a lot of people asked me in the beginning. In my opinion, it's one of the hardest genres to write for, and at the same time, it's one of the easiest. However, the answer is simple. I was nineteen when I first seriously put pen to paper and called myself a writer. I was writing young adult books because I was a young adult and I had yet to experience "grown up life". Some people who have read my works always ask me why I usually write from the perspective of a teenage girl, although there are some exceptions to that rule, and WAITING ON YOU is one of them. The answer to the question though, is that I remember what it was like to be fifteen or sixteen, about to sit your exams and wondering what on earth you were going to do next. I remember the feelings of "Yay, school is FINALLY over!" alongside the feelings of "what if I failed my exams?!" I remember growing up, living with my mum after my parents had divorced, with my small circle of friends, all of us thinking that once school ended, we would live out in the world and be awesome. And we did, and we were, we still are. My point is that teenage girls go through so many changes, and have so many things to deal with. Bullying, school, exams, making decisions that people tell you will affect the rest of your life, when it really won't matter when you get older. I write for young adults, for teenage girls because I want them to be able to read fiction, to escape into it and know that they are not alone. I want them to know that one day they'll be grown up, that they will get through this, and that life will go on and they will be awesome too. I felt then and I still do now, that I knew what it was like to be a young adult.

One of the good things about writing YA fiction, is that as an age group, they are more open to the supernatural, paranormal and fantasy plot lines. They are willing to use their imagination to conjurer up images of what you're telling them. The same, of course, can be said about any age group, but I've always found that young adults are more open to reading about going back in time, or having visions. I know that when I was a teenager, I wanted books that were grown up, but not too grown up and I find that as a writer, I want to write those books.

During my teen years I went through a lot of things that many other teenagers go through, and although now in the age of the internet, it's possible to find others going through the same things, sometimes finding that storyline in a book and seeing someone else go through it and come out on top can help. I wanted to be able to reach the next generation of readers and writers and to do that I chose to write YA books. Writing for young adults is hard, but to me, writing for adults seemed impossible. Even as I got older, I wanted to stay dabbling in the sandbox that I had built for myself. My characters were happy to stay as teens for as long as I wrote about them and I was happy to keep playing with them. I wanted to be able to show my readers that even though life sometimes can be hard, it can be difficult and it can down right suck, you do get older and life changes.

When I think about the circle of people I called my friends when I was at school and I look at the people surrounding me now who are my friends, I can see the big differences in those two groups. Only two people still in my life went to school with me and were part of my friendship group. I was not popular, I was not the "queen bee" of the school. I was picked last for sports and I was bullied. By writing YA fiction, I am able to write about both characters who are like me in some ways and characters who are not. I am able to write about things that happen to teenage girls that some people in the world are not aware of because they have never been a teenage girl. At the same time, I am able to explore worlds and situations that I wouldn't be able to explore if all my characters were adults and had real life jobs and children of their own. It gives me more space to create, whilst also putting in between the words encouragement for those teens who are experiencing what I write about.

Of course, not everything I write about is possible, but imaginations are a powerful thing and like other YA writers, I choose to explore both the possible and the impossible. I want to show young adults that there is a whole world out there for them to grab hold of and live in. While not every subject I deal with is pleasant, they can be real situations for someone and I want them to know that they are not alone. I want them to be able to relate to my work and to realise that there are other people like them. I write young adult books because I want to, I also write them because I enjoy engaging with the readers, I enjoy writing for them and seeing their reactions and I feel that I can give something positive to them. I write young adult fiction for young adults and I get to enjoy myself in the process. Who can ask for a better job than that?

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