Why do I write YA? Let me start with why I read YA:
My reading tastes are eclectic, though I confess a huge bias to sci-fi and fantasy. When work turns stressful, and life seems to yak on me at every opportunity, I take comfort from a great YA story. The trials and tribulations of the YA protagonist pull on my fears and insecurities. I shudder at the memory of my teens, when every hill became a mountain, every cruel comment signaled the end of my life. Despite the age gap, I can empathize with the YA protagonist. Everyone and everything seems against him or her, but somehow through tenacity, quick-wits and a noble soul, they win through and save the day. Good YA is a tale of innocent courage and friendship against adversity, yet the simple wisdom of the young can teach even the eldest of us.
It feels good to leave our complicated, adult lives behind. I find most YA books to be a wonderful escape from reality, often a page-turner that keeps me reading late into the night. The plot and pacing are usually simple and easy to read, yet rarely childish or patronizing. These days, I'm thankful not to suffer ponderous back-story long-winded characters and yawn-inducing talking head scenes that go on for tens of pages. I fear that some adult writers have forgotten how to entertain their readers.
And there lies the crux of the matter. I want to entertain. That's the main reason I write YA. I don't want to impress, I don't want to show off my encyclopedic knowledge of literary style. In truth, I don't have one. I have no aspirations of becoming the next Hemingway or Faulkner. In my head, I relive the wondrous imaginations of my teens, and I want to share those adventures. I believe that none of us has truly let go of our youth, and we yearn to recapture the innocent wonder of those times.
The youth of today are our future. Kids are bright and spunky, willing to see the good in everything, untainted by adult perceptions and neuroses. I owe my own intense curiosity, love of adventure, knowledge and science to all the books I read as a child. I want to pay that forward. This is the second reason I write YA. I want to encourage youngsters to read, and imagine, and know that life is what they choose to make it. As adults, we may be mired in the realities of economic depression, world conflicts, spiraling costs, etc., but kids need and deserve a more creative outlet.
If I can convince one child that the world, nay universe, is an astonishing place in which they can grow and mold for the good of all, overcoming any challenge; then the time I spend writing a book is worthwhile. If I can assist one adult to escape into a world where friendship, moral fiber and the courage to do the right thing can renew their tired souls, and let them put my book down with a smile; then I am happy. Am I a crazy dreamer? Hell, yes, and proud.
That's why I write YA. I can end in no better way than quoting the elegant mission statement of Flux Books: "Where Young Adult is a Point of View, Not a Reading Level."
[This post originally appeared in 2012 on Obsession With books.]