I am using my monthly spot here to do two things. First I want to look at the whole idea of a Young Adult genre, and then I want to blatantly promote the debut novel of a talented new writer.
All too often I hear comments along the lines of “YA novels are wasted on the young”. I happen to disagree with that statement, but I really do think that YA stories can appeal to readers of all ages and they can inhabit other subject genres. YA can also be written by authors of any age, but it’s all too easy for older authors to fail at this. Either they have mislaid their inner youth or, what I believe is worse, they try to preach to their readers and end up being condescending to the young.
Whatever age you are you should write what is in your head. If it fits the YA genre then fine, but if it doesn’t then don’t force it.
All my years as a school teacher taught me two relevant things. Firstly, if you try to fool kids they will see through you quicker than any adults and they won’t hesitate to tell you. Secondly, I loved the stories that I read to them and shared with them. Y.A. is not new and great writers have been writing high quality literature for children and young people for decades. There is a rich, broad history of great stories written for and loved by many generations of young people.
The world of the young evolves and in recent years it has moved on with amazing speed and in some wholly unexpected directions. Socially, materially and emotionally, our young people live in a world which appears almost alien to their elders. The quality of YA writing needs to match that and the story contexts must be real and pertinent.
For me, the popular teen tropes of vampires and dystopian futures are being done to death. We need fresh material which is well written.
I’ve said before that authors need to accumulate some life experience in order to tell effective stories. Am I then saying that young people should not be writing? Absolutely not. Think about it. If they are good mindful observers of their world then they are well placed to write YA because that is the life they are living.
This brings me to author Shaun Young, his debut novel Castor and his publisher Harmony Ink.
Shaun has written a beautifully crafted story blending YA and science fiction. Castor also embraces diversity with its young gay main character. Many mainstream publishers still avoid such things and even actively dismiss them. One notable exception to this is Harmony Ink Press, the YA imprint of Dreamspinner Press. Harmony Ink seeks to release “teen and New Adult fiction featuring significant personal growth of unforgettable characters across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.” If you are looking for fresh stories or maybe new authors either young or old, then check them out.
In my personal, totally biased opinion, you should also pre order Castor because you will be in for a real treat on release day next Thursday 30th. Here’s the blurb:
James Fisher’s memories of Earth are distant, replaced by the harsh realities of life on the planet Castor. As a “Half-Adapt,” James is one of many who were biologically engineered to survive conditions on Castor—and to labor for the benefit of the ruling class. Indentured to servitude, James has no way to defy or escape the severe caste system… until he meets Vidal Centa, his master’s nephew. The draw they feel toward each other is instant, powerful, and maybe even enough to move beyond the unyielding regulations of their society.
But not everyone blindly accepts the absolute power of the oligarchy. The Independence Society fights for freedom and equality, and since James shares in their ideals, he joins their ranks. Soon he’s faced with an impossible decision: continue the fight against the oppressors or choose the love of the young man who embodies everything the Society loathes. With a looming conflict threatening to tear the planet apart, James fears he cannot continue to fight if he wants to keep his relationship with Vidal.