The Red launch tour continues today over at The Book Cellar with an interview. Check it out!
Monday, during my massive couch jockey session in which I plowed through 7 episodes of Firefly, one of my non-writer friends popped up to chat. She was asking if I was marketing Red strictly as YA (probably in response to my comment about jumping genres in Sunday’s Summary). Which, of course, I am, since it is YA. I said as much, and she was surprised, as she said it didn’t feel any more YA than any of my other stuff. So then she asked what made it YA, which kind of made me blink since mostly that’s not a question I hear from the writing community.
The characters are teenagers, I told her.
Oh, so, the historicals I’ve been reading with 19 year old heroines are actually YA?
That gave me pause. Is there a historical subgenre to YA? I have no idea.
Well no, I said, because in that time period, they’d have been considered adults.
She seemed totally satisfied with that response, but I’ve been kind of turning the issue over in my mind ever since. Because really, I can think of exceptions to all these rules. I mean, if you take away the contemporary setting of high school and all the things that make us think typical teenager, chuck it in another world or another time, what’s the thing that makes it YA vs. something else?
The crux of what makes a YA a YA is definitely more complex than simply the age of the hero/ine. So what is it?
I consider Red YA because it deals, yes, with teenagers, but also because it’s dealing with issues of coming of age, identity, and a lot of the stuff that’s part and parcel of being a teenager. Loads of the YA I read could be defined the same way. You’ve got contemporary kids in high school dealing with teenage life stuff. Is that the thing?
Susan is working on developing a non-Talent project to work on with her awesome agent Jane. Susan loves YA and intends to stick to that genre (for now anyway). The first project proposal she put together (SPACE PIRATES! I loved it. She is also a huge Firefly fan.) and sent in wasn’t quite right. And one of the comments regarding why was”What makes this YA as opposed to an adult story other than the age of the characters?”
That’s stuck with me too and has led to some interesting philosophical conversations between us. Would the story be fundamentally changed if all the characters were grown ups? Could it still happen that way?
Is it a matter of life experience? Transition? Is it one of those things that can only be defined by what it’s NOT?
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. So I turn it over to y’all, dear readers. How do YOU define YA?