I am often asked why I write in the genre that I do and I invariably shrug, wishing I could come up with a witty answer but the truth is, I write YA because that's all that ever wants to come out of my mind and fingertips. Many is the time I've sat down with the intent to write something that I would classify as grown-up ... but even though my protag may start out mid-to-late twenties, before I've gotten more than a few pages in, I realize that protag has morphed into mid-to-late teens.
Eventually, I stopped fighting my inner muse and rolled with it. And now, I feel exceedingly blessed to be a published author during a time when YA has come into its own - it's cool to write for teens right now.
I'm not saying that there hasn't always been an audience for the type of books the contributors to this blog write - there have always been teen readers who've longed to read something they could relate to, something written for them by an author who understood the particular trials and tribulations of high school; the angst of not fitting in, that first (often painful) crush, the worry over how to transition from "kid" to "adult". But until fairly recently YA wasn't as celebrated as I might have liked.
Tastes are cyclical. What is considered popular changes according to some arcane schedule. After Steve King burst onto the scene in the 70's, Horror was the new darling in the publishing world. Dean Koontz, Clive Barker and Anne Rice got big advances that earned out. Then came Tom Clancy, who kicked off the political thriller trend; Dan Brown ushered in a spate of suspense-thrillers with a historical overtones and then ... then came Harry Potter, written by J.K. Rowling. In my mind, this happening was The Beginning of the thirst for YA/MG as we know it today.
Suddenly, it was not only acceptable to write for a younger crowd, it was also pretty lucrative. Cornelia Funke, Rick Riordan, Stephanie Meyer and a host of others were becoming household names.
Don't get me wrong - I know that for years there have been books available for teens, some really good books, most of which I read growing up. Our great-grandmothers read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton and Lois Lowry were YA authors before YA was uber-cool.
Writing YA is now cool. Not a day goes by that I don't struggle against the urge to dress in all black and don mirror shades before going to Starbucks and ordering something grande.
Yeah, okay, I'll admit it; I don't do that since I'm not cool, as my kids point out to me daily. But my genre is.
Kathi Wallace is the author of Assiniboin Girl released by Drollerie Press. She can be found most days on Twitter as Kathi430 or her blog, kathi430.livejournal.com