I am so so so excited to welcome Kate Harrison to Book Angel Booktopia today to talk about the great age appeal of YA. As you are probably aware I am one of the people this post applies to as I am not a YA myself (although I am pretty sure I am still 22 in my head, lol). Over to Kate:
I hope my mum won’t mind me telling you that she’s not in the target market for my first YA novel.
Yet she says it’s definitely her favourite. ‘It’s got an extra something the others didn’t have. And now your dad’s reading it too.’
I tried to resist asking her what the ‘extra something’ was, or what the others lacked. Mum has a habit of speaking her mind.
But here are a few guesses about that something: murder, an imaginary other world, an avenging teenage girl, a dead hero, a geek hero, a thoughtful killer, a cheesy reality TV show, and a love that could cost the heroine her life.
Hmm. Makes my romantic comedies – which I also love writing – seem a bit, well, tame.
I’m not in the target YA audience either but, like Mum, I’ve developed a real taste for reading this ‘genre’ of fiction. Except it’s not really a genre at all – and that could be the very reason why YA is appealing to a broader range or readers, and writers.
As a writer, it lets me tell the story I want to, without worrying whether I might be ‘breaking’ some of the genre rules: by putting a beach bar in the afterlife, for example, or having my heroine juggle homework with homicide investigations. In YA, anything goes, whether it’s a vampire love affair or a televised battle to the death.
There’s nothing wrong with genre – readers often like to know what they’re getting when they invest time and money in a book.
But the joy of YA is that you’re never quite certain what you’re going to get. After the success of Twilight, there was a fair chance a vampire might pop up, but YA is so much broader than that. What they have in common is that the young protagonists are facing big battles: for identity, for justice, for love.
So why are older readers clamouring to read about teens? The truth is that even if those days are decades away, that time is probably the most exciting of our lives: it’s all about imagination, possibility and passion. Is it any wonder we use YA books as a time machine back to a more thrilling time?
As writers, we seek extremes and we want our characters to be braver and fiercer than we are: my heroine, Alice, is open to possibilities from the first moment that she opens an email apparently from her murdered sister. An adult would probably have dismissed it as a hoax and deleted the mail without thinking.
YA writers trust their readers – like their characters – to be open and challenging, to consider possibilities adults might dismiss, to ask the awkward questions.
Talking of awkward questions, I did finally ask my mother what it was she liked most.
‘The Beach,’ she said. ‘The sunshine, the sand, the sea. I could imagine myself there...’
Title: Soul Beach
Series: Soul Beach #1
Author: Kate Harrison
Publication Date: 1 Sep 2011
Synopsis: From Amazon
When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centered around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.