I fell in love with Young Adult fiction a few years before I officially became a young adult, and oddly enough after I’d discovered romance! One of the first books I remember reading and loving at that age was The Grounding of Group 6 — about a group of teenagers whose parents want them dead — only the kids don’t know that at first. Loved that book.
After that I moved into Sweet Valley High, about twins Jessica and Elizabeth
Wakefield. I loved these books despite not being able to relate to being beautiful, blonde or a twin. Or driving a Fiat, for that matter. This is when I began writing Young Adult. I remember being, oh… 13 or 14 and thinking that SVH simply wasn’t that realistic. No one ever seemed to really get in trouble and everyone had cars. Most of the kids I knew weren’t rich, and we often got in a lot of trouble! I decided it was time for me to set the record straight and I started writing my own books about a place called Whitney Bay.
Oh. Dear. God.
My idea of realism was a nerd who transformed himself ala Grease II into John Taylor from Duran Duran for a heroine who dressed an awful lot like Madonna, but was secretly me. Oh, the drama! I wrote 3 books in that series at a little over 200 pages each. I gave them to a friend in my class. I hope she had the good sense to burn them.
After that, Young Adult and I lost touch for awhile. I read Sydney Sheldon and Jackie Collins. In my twenties I discovered Neil Gaimon and his Sandman comics. I fell in love with the character of Death, who was old as humanity but looked like a teenage girl. My favorite ‘version’ of DeeDee as she was called, is the one drawn by Chris Bachalo as the photo here.
This got me back into what I consider Young Adult fiction. Gaiman’s stuff was geared for older readers, but it got me interested in what else was out there with ‘teen’ protagonists.
I sold my first book to Avon in 1999. It wasn’t due to come out until 2001, so my agent and I discussed other projects. Around this time Avon started the now defunct True Romance line out of its Young Adult division. I wrote two books for that line Anna and the Duke and Emily and the Scot. I had so much fun writing those books, and had plans for a third when the line closed (sob!). After that, I got caught up in other things and I didn’t have a chance to do another YA.
These days there’s a wealth of YA fiction out there, and I’m happy to say I’m soon going to be part of it again. Recently I sold my Steampunk series to Harlequin Teen and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It won’t debut until early 2011, but that’s okay. I have to write them! I’ll be doing these books under a new name as well, Kady Cross. I’m not the only ‘adult’ author to make this leap. Look at Gena Showalter, Rachel Vincent, Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong, just to name a few!
I think the real appeal of Young Adult is that there are no rules. You can pretty much make them as sweet or not sweet as you want. The only thing that is a no-no, in my opinion, is graphic sex. Other than that, it’s a free and wonderful world. Teens love to read, they want those stories. And they want to get involved with them. I’m excited about the possibility of fan art and fan fiction! lol. I want girls to love my characters and send me hand-written notes on looseleaf again! I don’t think you can beat teenagers for sheer enthusiasm.
Do I hope to do more Young Adult? You bet. Do I have any plans to give up my adult books? Not at all! But writing this book makes me feel like I did on the first day of high school, entering a building with more than 2000 other kids — a little scared, a little nervous and unsure, but full of the excitement of a brand new adventure. I can’t wait to join the ranks of all the fabulous YA authors out there!
So, any other adult YA fans out there?
A list of authors to try if you’re new to YA:
Melissa Marr, Rachel Vincent, Claudia Gray, PC & Kristen Cast, Richelle Mead
Tera Lynn Childs, Rosemary Clement Moore,
Rachel Hawthorne, Meg Cabot (both RH and MC also have paranormal books)
Libba Bray (paranormal elements), Sarah MacLean, Anna Godbersen
Melissa Walker, Cecily von Ziegesar
I’d love to hear your suggestions!