Wednesday, May 23, 2012
the littlest confusedest bookshelf
I admit it: I have written a number of books about young adults.
I write books about young adults because that pivotal phase in life is often the most important in terms of its resonating effect on the evolution of a person's path. There are things that happened to me in my teens that I still haven't fully sorted out; and decisions I made at that time of my life which ultimately pointed me to where I am today.
I am NOT a YA author.
I am an (a)YA author.
There is a huge difference when you emphasize that preposition -- about -- because it means 1) that I am not a kid, and 2) that I do not write down to an audience who can't (or shouldn't be allowed to) handle particular concepts.
I also do not preach, nor do my books offer any salvation.
Someone needs to straighten out that confused little (very little) bookshelf, and it will stop an awful lot of hand-wringers out there who can't make the distinction between books that are written FOR young adults -- (f)YA -- and books that are written ABOUT them.
Here is an amazing book that was written about young adults -- one of the best books ever written, in my opinion -- The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy. Go tell McCarthy he's a YA author and he'll probably put one of those slaughterhouse cow-skull-pressure-blaster things up to your temple.
When I was a young adult, I confronted all those same horrible things that the majority of the characters in my books have to deal with. It was a confusing and frightening time. It was also the most important period in my life, which is why I write ABOUT it now. It took me a really long time to be able to process most of those things, and some of them are still churning around.
Anyway, I apologize for the rant. This came up just the other day when a reader of my books (an adult, by the way) said something to me like this: I tell my friends to read your books, but they think they're written for kids. Why don't more adults read the stuff you write?
Because they do not know there's a vast difference between (f)YA and (a)YA.