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Monday, January 27, 2014

Why YA?

Since a lot of people in my hometown know that I write books now, I've been asked a few times how I started writing for teens. See, I didn't actually start out wanting to write YA. When I think back to all the years I wasted wanting to write, I saw myself writing for adults. I thought it would be romance for a long time, then I thought I'd try science fiction or fantasy since that's been a consistent love of mine. It wasn't until I had my first child and I was checking the catalog for a mail-order children's book club that I discovered Harry Potter. At the time, the fourth book in the series had just been released and it looked, well, really good to me. But I needed to read the first three books in the series first. So I ordered them and inhaled the books over a two week period.

After that I was officially hooked on middle grade literature and read tons of MG books. I thought, Hey, I could do this, especially since the book that made me want to be a writer was A Wrinkle In Time. But then I landed my first teaching job and between teaching all day and being on mom duty in the evenings, I was wiped out. However, I continued to read a lot of books in the meantime, constantly trying to think of something I could write. The problem was that I just couldn't come up with a good idea. Everything I thought of seemed too derivative of what I'd already read.

It wasn't until after I had my second child that I discovered another category: young adult. I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about the Twilight series, and I decided to check it out. And once again, I was hooked. Some of the first YA books that I devoured included A Great and Terrible Beauty, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Fallen, The Dark Divine, Uglies, The Golden Compass, and of course The Hunger Games.

With those books, my very first ideas were born. Sure, it took a few tries to find The Idea, but once I did, I sat down, created an outline, then over the next year wrote my very first book. I ultimately ended up trunking that novel even though I loved it, but I knew it wasn't going to be The One. But that didn't stop me...I wrote another book, revised it several times, then signed with my awesome agent a few months after it was finished. Now I'm not going to say I'll only work on YA books from now on. If I have an idea for a MG or an adult book, I'll certainly roll with it. But for now, YA is what I'll write.