Wednesday, 25 May 2011

What I Resent About the YA Trend, and What I Love About Bloggers

*Phew* what a blog post name! Haters, please hold the hating. YA writers, stay with me. I have a point. And it's not against YA as a genre (you know me better!). No, this post is about identity.

I'm picking on YA in particular because it's a world I know fairly well. Thanks to all the lovely, helpful blogs, websites, and twitterfriends I get to read everyday, I know it significantly better than my own market. I've met the nicest people with the best intentions who have helped me grow in leaps and bounds.

Here's the thing: It's very easy for writers - any people, really - to stereotype other writers. Especially when they're not visible face to face. And when people visit my blog or read the query for my story, they see a 20 year old female with an obsession for writing and a big smile. They may also see my obsession for fantasy books, the Legend of Zelda poster on my wall, and my slight fixation with Firefly. So, this is the question I get a lot.

"So, your fantasy book is young adult, right?"

Well, thank you for asking - that's very kind - but it's actually not.

I understand the confusion. I'm a fairly young writer and YA is a very exciting genre to get into right now. (This, by the way, is what I resent about it. The assumption that most new authors want to write the hot new thing.) I have young protagonists, there's family struggles, and, um, a bit of angsty romance. Sort of. (Angsty mayn't be the right word) But a young protagonist does not a YA fantasy make. Many adult fantasy/sci-fi novels have a young protagonist. Jim Butcher's Codex Alera is one series, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time is another. This leads to a discussion of what DOES make a YA novel YA, but that's for another post.

When I think of YA writer, I think of young women in their mid 20s to mid 40s, usually with kids. When I think of a science fiction writer, I usually think of a middle aged man who's growing bald. When I think of a horror writer, every single author takes on the face of Stephen King. When I think of a romance author, I think of women with long hair biting the ends of pens as they write their stories long-hand. I can't help it.

Knowing all of you has helped shift that.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's easy to make assumptions. It's sort of necessary to function as a human being. I'm also saying that those assumptions should be held loosely, ready to fall the second they're contradicted. New authors don't always write YA - even if it makes the most sense for them to write in that genre. Fantasy authors aren't always caught up in a dreamland, some of them are the most down-to-earth people you can imagine. Thriller authors do not all relish the sight of blood. Not all paranormal writers are edgy. Not all literary fiction authors are condescending toward 'genre writing'. Really. I promise.

So I have an idea: let's stop the assumptions! Let's have a get-to-know-you day, a day where we ask obvious questions we've assumed the answers to. Spread the word! Let's have the blogging world be a little less self-assured and a little more questioning - in the good way.


1. Do you actually like blogging?
2. Are you happy with your writing? I mean, really - are you glad you do it?
3. What genre do you write, and what do you read?
4. What was the first 'big' blog that you fell in love with? You know, the one with 300+ followers and OMG how'd they EVER get that many and look how funny and helpful they are and how much awesome OMG! Or... did you not have one? (No assumptions! :D)

Oh, and feel free to ask me questions too! If I get any, I'll address them on Friday, and we can get to know each other better!


Oh oh oh! P.S.! MEGA congrats to Miriam Forster for selling her book HOUSE OF A THOUSAND DOLLS to HarperCollins! EEK!
She's holding an amazing contest, go check it out!


Lisa Aldin said...

What a great post!

1) I suck at blogging. I like reading others blogs more than I like writing mine!
3)I write YA, for now. That may change! I ready ANYTHING.
4) I think the first big blog I followed was Natalie Whipple's. She rocks!

L.G.Smith said...

Ha! Too true, Bethany. People do make assumptions all the time.

1) I enjoy blogging more than I thought I would. I held off doing it forever because I didn't think I would like it at all. But I was wrong. The interaction with other writers makes it a great exerience. :)

2) My writing is getting better. Still not where I want it to be.

3) I write adult fantasy. I also enjoy reading fantasy, but historical fiction is an easy runner up.

4) I've been following Nathan Bransford's blog almost since he started. He's very good. :)

Marsha Sigman said...


1) I love Blogging. It's like I'm the star of my own show.

2) I love every minute of writing, even the hard ones when I want to smash something. I don't think it will ever be as perfect as I want it to be.

3) I write YA (new one is edgier/older) and MG. I read everything. YA/MG/Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

4) Nathan Bransford

Now my questions. Do you think you will stay with this genre or try your hand at something different? Are you going to experiment a bit? Are you happy it's summer and do you think you will have more time to write?

Does your mother know how awesome you are?lol

I think that's it for now.

Kathryn said...

This is great. I've had people assume I write YA too, when, in fact, I don't. Even as a teen, my characters were at least in their twenties. Just how I write.

1. Yes, I like blogging, but I like checking out peoples' blogs more than coming up with my own posts, most of the time.
2. I love what I write. I'm really into speculative fiction write now and it's SO MUCH FUN!
3. I'm currently writing an apocalyptic (lore) novel; am querying an urban fantasy, and am in the middle of a magic realism piece. I read mostly the same genre; adult or YA doesn't matter.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

1. I love blogging. :D
2. I don't think I'll ever be 100% happy with my writing. But that only makes me challenge myself more.
3. YA. I pretty much only read YA (and some romantic suspense). Drives me crazy that some writers don't even read YA even though they write it.
4. Querytracker blog. I never expected that one day I would write for it.

Janet Johnson said...

Love it! Great thoughts.

1. I do enjoy blogging.
2. I am glad to write, but not always happy with my writing . . . that's what re-writing is for.
3. WI do mainly MG, some PB, and dabble in YA
4. Elana Johnson was mine. Especially since we have the same last name. :)

Jennifer Hillier said...

Yes! Great post!

1. I like blogging now that I don't have a schedule. I think my posts are better for it.

2. Yes. All the way happy.

3. Thrillers. For adults.

4. The Rejectionist. Because she keeps it so real!

Joanne Brothwell said...

Hi Bethany, your stereotypes are so funny! I have to admit, I have been guilty of those same stereotypes. It wasn't until after I joined a romance writers group that I realized I was wrong.

1. I love/hate blogging.
2. I love, love, LOVE writing!
4. I write paranormal romance and that's what I read.
5. Nathan Bransford, hands down.

Paigeewa said...

I also hate the assumption that YA writers aren't to be taken seriously because they write for teens. I take offense to that because, as a former wannabe teacher, I feel like YA books are important because if you don't catch kids early with exciting things to read, then chances are they won't read as adults!

Now, onto the questions:

1) I like blogging. It helps me get out any frustrations or tell funny stories and get advice and opinions from readers!
2) Yes, and yes. I would be a really bored, sad person if I couldn't write.
3) I do YA contemporary and then this YA fantasy/contemporary thing...I don't know how to describe it. Urban fantasy?
4) Uh...................

Lisa Gail Green said...

Ha!! Funny. I want your answer to all those questions btw!
1. Yes.
2. There are ups and downs, but YES I can't NOT write.
3. YA of course!!! :P Paranormal mainly.
4. Adventures in Children's Publishing and Stiryourtea though when I started, I'm not sure they were that big yet, but they grew so quickly I figure it counts.

Talli Roland said...

Great post, and a big booo to stereotypes and assumptions on all levels!

I write chick lit or whatever the heck you want to call it. And I love blogging, too!

Miriam Forster said...

THANK YOU! *eek*

1. I LOVE blogging. It's opened up so many awesome relationships and it's helped me write consistently, which I need.

2. I do enjoy writing. It keeps me grounded in a weird way that's hard to put into words. I can be having a bad day, sit down to write and feel calm and centered by the end of it.

3. I write young adult and middle grade--mostly fantasy--but I don't have kids. :) I everything. A lot of YA and fantasy of course, but also a lot of mysteries, nonfiction and random stuff.

4. Miss Snark would be my first big blog, though I discovered her right after she stopped posting. But Nathan Bransford was definitely another one. :)

Great questions!