Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why YA?

My new genre-of-choice is Young-adult fiction. I read it, I write it, I love it. 
Young-adult fiction is hot. Officially aimed at the 14 – 21 age group, it is finding an audience far beyond those narrow boundaries. Vast numbers of people over the age of twenty-one are reading teen fiction. New YA blogs appear every day. But Why? 

Some say it’s the style. The books are fast-paced, edgy and exciting. The dialogue moves the plot forward and the narrative is written in a conversational style with no literary pretensions.  In other words – it’s easy to read. You don’t have to struggle to extract the author’s meaning from the foggy thicket of their words. NB That doesn’t mean it’s easy to write! 

Others say people love YA because we’re all in love with the idea of being young. We can relive those heady days when everything was new through the youthful heroes and heroines of our favourite YA series. And maybe there’s something in that. There’s nothing quite like a FIRST first kiss, is there? But for me, the key to understanding the rising appeal of teen fiction is in the themes it deals with, including:

Stills from the trailer for American Smile by Cody Young
expressing sexuality,
challenging authority,
maintaining friendships,
keeping secrets,
making money,
dealing with prejudice,
righting wrongs in an unfair world,
swimming against the tide,
finding love and gaining other people’s respect.

And since lots of not-so-young people are dealing with that stuff too – there’s your answer. As many of my readers know, I started out writing historical fiction and only recently switched to writing YA. Why? I realised that even in my historical fiction I was trying to write YA. My protags are nearly always in their teens, they have angsty teenage problems, they have parents – sometimes bad parents – and they have an aching need to make their mark in the world. When I finally made the move to writing YA everything fell into place. Writing full-length novels suddenly became a whole lot easier, becuase this is where I belong. I see my own writing as Young-adult/New Adult – meaning fiction aimed at the older teens, twenties, and beyond. To see if you think I got it right – you’ll need to check out my latest release Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne. Available for 99 cents at Amazon and Smashwords. Also available in print at for $8.99.

A site I’ve found interesting lately is the YA Fantasy Guide over at

Also, check out YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association – lots of good articles on trends in YA fiction I’ve just started following them on twitter.


  1. Cody, I'm so glad you've made this decision. I've read all your stories and loved every one of them, but when I read Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne, I knew you'd found your niche. It's a wonderful story, from the characters, to the setting, to the breathtaking finale. Congratulations and keep 'em coming, I say! :)

  2. Very informative! Love meeting other YA's! ;)

  3. I think you make great points. The reason I like reading YA is the same reason I like writing it, there's so much to explore and from a viewpoint willing to embrace so much and trying to define themselves/learn from it.

    But, and I'm just throwing this out there... don't you think it also has something to do with pricing? I swear most YA books are cheaper than adult books. Even comparing similar sizes and page number. Hmmmm.

    Found you through She Writes.

  4. Thanks guys!
    Tia - you make an important point about the price. I hadn't really considered that aspect of it (I live in NZ where print books are three or four times more expensive anyway!) but I think price IS an important factor. So far all my e-books are either 99 cents or free, and the royalties work out about the same as they would with a traditional print publisher. Many thanks for your comments, everyone.

  5. I agree in full! YA is not just for .. well young adults! When working at borders I loved being able to branch out all over the store all pull people to the YA section knowing that no matter their age ( almost ) I could find something I knew they could connect with and love! I will definitely be checking out your books and following you too see where the world takes you!!
    p.s. Found you at beck valley books blog hop! loving finding new blogs and people !

  6. Thank you! Just been over to check out your blog - looks great - you have a wonderful selection of YA titles featured, including some to-die-for covers!

  7. I love YA, too! So fun! While my novel is MG, I find myself reading a ton of MG and YA. I love them both for similar reasons. One thing I like about YA that isn't found so much in the MG books is the drama and angst. It makes me remember being that age and I feel that I can always relate to the characters.

    Best of luck!

  8. Thanks Jess. A teenage world full of drama and angst is definitely where I need to be, some would say!