Why Are You Writing/Reading YA?

Over on her blog, India has asked an interesting question: why are you writing/reading YA?

I find it easier to answer why I *read* YA rather than why I write it. I don't really like the labelling that goes on (YA, MG, etc.); I have to follow the rules while querying (and will certainly have to do so if I get published and start marketing), but it seems to me that the best books are loveable by everyone. Adult critics read these books and other adults - whether parents or not - read their reviews, if not the books, so why do we bother with labels at all? Among others I'd recommend The Lord of the Rings or Charlotte's Web or Anne of Green Gables, not to mention The Giver or The Wind in the Willows, to readers from 7 to 77! Someone said something about YA books being shorter - what? Shucks, the longer a book the better, and that's how I felt when I was a kid too!
None of that quite answers why I read it, however. I think I appreciate how clear cut the morals are. I like the way experiences and adventures seem new to the characters; I like watching them discover the way the world works. That said, I certainly don't pigeonhole my reading by category - I read 'em all.
And why do I write it... I certainly didn't start out writing YA. I wrote short stories when I was younger but my first two novels were romances. Somehow I gravitated towards YA. I wish I had a better explanation than "the characters that spoke to me were young" but that's essentially what happened. The "moment of change" aspect is probably the most compelling reason. Here's a good summary of the beginning from Paul Auster:
"Well, the fact is I never know where my books come from, and I never go out looking for ideas. It all seems to happen in a way that has nothing to do with me. One day something is there that wasn't there the day before. If that something is interesting and compelling it tends not to go away. Generally speaking, I'm looking for a way not to write the book. Only something that is so powerful, forceful, and overwhelming to your imagination that you actually want to live inside this idea for months or years to come is going to hold up. So you keep pushing away at it, and if it doesn't fall down it usually starts to grow."


Aubrie said…
I love YA. I started writing an epic fantasy and everyone told me to make it YA. All of my writing tends toward YA, and I love reading it.

It's a wonderful genre.
India Drummond said…
It's still not really my thing, but I tell ya, I learned a lot from the responses to that post!

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