Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back to high school

I know it's been a long time since I posted when I log in and there's a whole different layout to Blogger.

So what's been going on the last couple of months since I last posted?

I've been writing. A lot. And a big decision has been made.

I have decided to put my adult crime novel on the back burner for now and concentrate on writing young adult books.

I do see the irony of a middle aged woman in That Time of Life writing about teenagers. But I have a teenager living in my house, so it's not really all that difficult a reach. And in a way, all those physical and emotional changes that come when we're teenagers are only slightly different for a woman of certain years, and in some ways it's worse now because everyone tells you about puberty, but mostly everything about menopause is one big secret until you're living through it.

But I digress.

When I signed on with my new agent, Josh, I sent him the first 30,000 words of a new young adult novel I've been working on. It's not a dystopian or a vampire or a werewolf book. It's the story of a regular girl in an unusual situation. It's her struggle to find her identity. Something we can all relate to. Josh also inherited a time travel young adult novel I'd written.

In addition to those, I sent him the adult crime novel that Jack had sent to a couple of editors and I've been working on over the past year.

After a long discussion and some very sage advice from Josh, I agreed that it really isn't the time to concentrate on the adult crime novel. But this is an incredibly exciting time for young adult books. I'm finding that there is a lot more leeway in storytelling in YA. In my years writing adult crime fiction, I always had to tie things up in a neat little bow at the end, my characters had to behave in certain ways, not use certain language, must have romance. From the YA I've been reading, I see that YA stories don't necessarily follow a formula, and that's very liberating.

I wish when I was a teenager that there was such a thing as Young Adult in the book section. I went from reading LITTLE WOMEN to Harold Robbins, which is a pretty huge leap and now, as a mother, that would worry me. But teens today have such a variety of books to choose from, all with teenagers as protagonists, solving crimes, turning into werewolves and vampires, all of them struggling to fit in, like all teens through time. It's like one big support group, but you don't have to leave your house or actually interact and be part of a group if that's not your thing.

So I will be spending far more time with teenagers in the next months than I expected, although it is nice that they're fictional and I don't have to deal with them rolling their eyes at me whenever I tell them to do something. I'll only get that from one teenager, the one who lives in my house.

What do you think of young adult fiction? Do you read it? Write it? If you read it, what's your favorite YA book? 


Vicki Lane said...

I'm just now re-reading A WRINKLE IN TIME -- YA from another era. I'm more into re-reading older YA but must say that Harry Potter and The Hunger Games Trilogy are big favorites.

Karen Olson said...

I've never read A Wrinkle in Time! Harry Potter and Hunger Games are great, and there's a great dystopian novel called Divergent that's out there right now. As for dark, realistic fiction, I love everything by John Green, who won the Edgar a couple years back for Paper Towns. Highly recommend his books.

Naomi Hirahara said...

Congrats on your newly committed direction, Karen. Age is not a factor in writing YA books. We were all younger; it's just a matter of remembering what it was like. I think that we start making judgments about how young people are today vs. how we were -- that's when we get into trouble. Also I think people make gross generalizations about people who are a different age. I know college-age people who are not into texting and sixty-somethings who are attached to their iPhones. It's more individualized than we think.

Beth Balmanno said...

I read YA and write YA and breathe YA. :) Honestly, it's a great genre and erroneously overlooked by a lot of adults as "teen books." Some of the most brilliant novels I've read over the last decade have been YA. They are edgy, they are smart and they push the envelope in ways other genres don't. Can't wait to see what you've got hidden up your sleeve! :)

Unknown said...

I read a lot of YA books & paranormal mysteries. The problem is the same w/ movies, it seems all the topics have been redone with slight variances as you mentioned, the whole vampire/werewolf thing but yet ppl still feel the need to re do it. I find it stale. I'm very interested to read your new book, as I'm a huge fan of the tattoo mysteries. I can't wait to read more from you! Idk if you've read Kelley Armstrong's YA novels, I really enjoyed the darkest powers trilogy. It is paranormal based but it was refreshing the dynamics she used w/ her characters and not too far fetched. Another author I enjoyed was Sarah Addison Allen. One of her books had great characters that were very easy to relate to. It was like you idea about a girl w a prob. I didn't start reading books regularly until I was in my early 20's. There were too many books that didn't grab my attention , so i just gave up for a while. My husband is a scfi guy so he helped me widen my book knowledge. sorry for the long reply;)

Anonymous said...

I love YA as well. Graceling by Cashore and Lament by Stiefvalter are two of my favorites. I'm just hoping I'll get to see Brett, Bitsy, Joel, and Jeff again soon.

Anonymous said...

I hope your adult crime novels aren't on the backburner for long! I love Annie Seymour and am waiting for the next crime/news story! Any timeline?

Anonymous said...

You mentioned you'll be focusing in teen books now. How long will Annie Seymour be on break? Love that character in your books? Hoping the break won't be too long, I miss those stories!

Vanessa Trujillo said...