Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend an author event at a locally owned bookstore here in good ol’ Miami, FL, Books & Books. The Sunshine Tour features 11+ Young Adult novelists, touring eight cities in the Southeast. I came across the tour by something of a happy accident. While writing a post on the perils of exposition, I dug up some scribbled notes from a webinar I’d taken on writing science fiction, fantasy and paranormal. The presenter was one Lucienne Diver, YA author and literary agent. In researching a bit more about her for my post, I stumbled across the book tour because she is one of the featured authors.
Naturally, I dove at the opportunity to meet Diver.
The chance to meet some Young Adult authors seemed timely for me, as I’d been wrestling with whether or not to revise my “adult” contemporary urban fantasy and make it YA. One of the more memorable (and stinging) observations I received in my search for an agent was that my manuscript read more like “aged-up young adult”. So why not go talk to some authors who ply their trade in that genre?
I walked in with a beer, because Books & Books is cool like that, and, perhaps more importantly, after spending my week around pre-teens, the thought that I’d be at a Saturday night function with some called for alcohol. The authors were arrayed before the audience in a panel, and after the emcee Sarah Nicolas, a YA author herself, introduced the writers, they had the chance to briefly introduce their books.
The panel was made up of eight authors: J. A. Souders, author of Renegade; Lucienne Diver, agent and author of the Vamped series; Danielle Joseph, author of Shrinking Violet; Jenny Torres Sanchez, author of The Downside of Being Charlie; Karen Amanda Hooper, author of Tangled Tides ; Heather Burch, author of the Halfling series; Gaby Triana, author of several Young Adult titles; and Christina Diaz Gonzalez, author of The Red Umbrella and A Thunderous Whisper. All in all, a very talented and successful assemblage of skill. While I hadn’t read any of their published works, I was curious to learn from them and their writing journeys. (I have since purchased a few of the titles mentioned above. I’ll let you know what I think.)
Listening to the authors discuss their work inspired daydreams of a future such event where I was an author participant. The sheer pride they felt, as if discussing their own children–birthed Athena-like from their brains, oozed from them all. I hope to one day get the opportunity to display such an unabashed joy with my stories.
I asked Lucienne Diver about the difficulties of being both a writer and a literary agent. Diver represents a number of authors for the Knight Agency.
“It’s balancing,” she said, bangles jingling from her wrists. Positioned at the center of the panel, the other authors all turned their attention to her. “I write first thing in the morning,” she continued, “before the inner-editor comes online–which is like 9:30.”
Many of the authors nodded at her mention of the “inner-editor”, and while I’ll get to that discussion in a future post, what struck me about what Ms. Diver said was that she needed to write first thing. I wish I could carve out time early in the morning to write, because, while the majority of my writing happens at night, I feel those moments when I was able to sit down first thing produced quality material.
Ms. Diver went on to discuss how she is a Type-A personality, and as such, she’s constantly working–constantly reading, constantly revising, constantly calling. She did mentioned now that she’d given up coffee, her inner-editor didn’t always get online at 9:30 anymore.
Now, to the Question at hand. Why YA?
Christina Diaz Gonzalez said that from “13 to 15, anything is possible.”
Jenny Torres Sanchez spread her arms to encompass the entire panel, calling them all “teens at heart.”
With Lucienne Diver, she referenced the main character from her successful Vamped series. “I had this voice in my head of abject horror because she can’t fix her hair and makeup because she has no reflection.” She continued to say, “I wanted to write a character who became more human after being less human.”
Heather Burch said she didn’t start as a YA author. She was knee-deep in an adult novel when “the idea hit me and wouldn’t leave me alone.”
“Drama,” Gaby Triana said. “Their [teens] lives lend themselves to drama.”
In retrospect, my novel manuscript might lend itself to the Young Adult audience. The kernel of an idea for another story might be better suited for YA as well. I’ve always seen myself as someone who wrote popular genre fiction for adults, but when I really start to listen to my characters, and envision their lives, I can see them fitting the YA tropes. Or, at least, the New Adult category–which might not even be a category just yet.
How do you feel about writing YA? Do you have stories that started targeted at one audience but is actually better aimed elsewhere?
Check back on Monday for Part 2 of Becoming a Storyteller: To YA or Not to YA, that might actually be the Question.