Why I Write (& Read) YA Novels

People often ask me why I chose to write Young Adult novels. My initial response is always that I read a lot of YA novels. Sometimes that answer leads to another “Why?” As someone who left my YA years behind long ago, why am I drawn to read and write YA fiction?

I’ve been reading books aimed at young adults as well as those aimed at adults since I really was a young adult. And I’ve never lost my taste for stories about that period of life when we are on the cusp of adulthood with all kinds of possibilities stretching before us. Young adult fiction immerses readers in the lives of characters who are still finding themselves, shaping themselves, deciding who and what they are capable of becoming and, as a subset of that, who and what they want to become. They struggle with relationships with family, with friends, with themselves, and in the process they figure out who they are and how they fit into their world.

And, let’s be honest, this need to find, shape, invent ourselves and our place in the world doesn’t stop when we leave young adulthood behind and enter full-fledged adulthood. We are constantly rediscovering who we are, what we want, and where we belong in life. One of my friends recently told me she reinvents herself every eight years. The timing may be different for each of us, but don’t we all reinvent ourselves on a regular basis?

Reading and writing about young adult characters puts me back in that place of possibility, where life is fresh and open, and (re)inventing myself is a hope-filled challenge. And the notion of (re)discovering or (re)inventing myself is much more interesting and entertaining than the repetitive cycles of bill-paying and laundry. Not that bill-paying and laundry are bad. The older I get the more firmly I believe in the importance (and sacredness) of the ordinary. But we cycle back and forth between the need to be present to the ordinary moments of our lives and the need to continuously remake ourselves as we move forward into the moments, hours, and days before us. Young adult fiction keeps the hopefulness of self-discovery and self-making alive for me.

Plus, perhaps because that time in life is such a place of invention and possibility, there is a lot of interesting stuff going on in YA fiction. YA authors experiment, blend genres, play around with possibility, which keeps the writing and the reading new and fun. As we get older, we sometimes forget the importance of play, and yet play is the essence of creativity. Yes, writing may be my work, but if I forget to keep it playful, it loses its fun and vitality. Again, we cycle between work and play, with creative play providing us the materials that we shape with our disciplined work.

So, why do I write and read YA fiction? Perhaps its because it keeps me young—capable of playing and seeing the possibilities in creation and self-creation.

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2 Responses to Why I Write (& Read) YA Novels

  1. amberskyef says:

    I write YA novels because teens are a vulnerable bunch, so there is so much character development possibility for them. Plus, they are incredibly misunderstand. Expected to act like adults but still treated like children.

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