Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Write YA Blogfest: Because Fin Made me Do It

The short answer is, I don't write YA.

If you asked me a year ago what I write, I'd have said, um, novels? I knew I wasn't writing memoir or non fiction but that's about it. The first book I wrote (currently mouldering gently in a digital drawer) is called Death Hires An Assistant. Hey, guess what happens in the book? Wow, you're psychic.

I had been writing Death Hires An Assistant in my head, on and off, for ten years. When we moved from NYC, to a place where deer walk down the street in the early morning mist and my neighbor keeps chickens, I had more brain space to let me get serious about writing. But the DHAA manuscript was a hot/cold/lukewarm-in-places mess. All my beta readers (except Tammy, I love you, babes!) said it was hit and miss. I didn't know what to do next.

I had a nugget of an idea that I wanted to play with, but I was afraid that starting a new project meant that I was abandoning DHAA, giving up. NaNoWriMo rolled around and I thought this would be a good way to 'waste' this new idea. You know, get it out of my system so I could get back to writing my opus.

I got the idea for BookEnd while driving up the Garden State Parkway. In my mind, I saw a boy, sixteen or so, standing by a ramshackle farm waiting for a man in period garb to walk through a gate. The man, looking like a lesser character in a Jane Austen movie, was pompous and confused. The boy laughed at him, taking him by the hand into the farm. That's it. That's all I saw. I was thinking about how funny it would be if minor characters from books found that, at the end of their story, they would be recycled.

I actually thought I'd write a light, funny story that I might be able to stretch to reach the 50K goal.
BookEnd has turned into a darker coming of age story that is over 75K and has a sequel, BookBegin already outlined. How the eff do these things happen? It's like I'm not even in control here.

So, why do I write YA? I think it's two things. It's because Fin, my main character, had a story to tell and his story is a YA story. And because YA is what I enjoy reading right now. I've been devouring Philip Pullman, Rowling and Garth Nix for years, not really making a distinction on A or YA reading, just loving the adventure.

For me, it's about the adventure, whether it's recycling book characters or having death for a boss.

Why do you write what you write?


  1. I write YA because of the characters, too. I love YA characters, and YA adventures! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Writing YA for the adventure, I like that. I do it for many reasons, one of them being to be able to share my experience of two cultures.
    Nice meeting you.

  3. Fin's story sounds so interesting! I'd love to read it. :-)

  4. I agree it is all about the adventure!

  5. Why I write what I write? Primarily because it's what I read most of the time.

    I've never been able to dive into YA. I'm not really sure why, but I do know I think I've missed the bus there.

    For me? Thrillers/Suspense..a little mystery thrown in

  6. In my case, it was Kieran that made me do it. ;-p It's the same reason as you: my characters were teens and this story was about them and for them.

  7. It's always about the characters. You just have to go where they take you, right?

  8. I absolutely love to read YA. :) I always identify so well with the characters in the YA novels I read, probably probably because I am still in the YA-range myself (about to be 19).

    By the way, you have a lovely blog!! And Fin is an awesome name (not because of Glee, of course lol).


  9. Thanks for posing the question. I write what I write because I haven't quite been able to find it on the shelves, already.

  10. Like my friend, Bryce, I write thrillers because it's what I like to read most, though I did just read Lucy Christopher's YA novel, Stolen. But then again, her story has elements similar to mine. Other than that & Twilight (had to see what the buzz was all about), I don't read much YA. But I enjoy your blog & am your newest follower so you'll be seeing me around.

  11. Oh, I love that recylcng book characters idea! Don't you love it when an idea takes hold like that? I kind of fell into YA writing too, as the characters insisted on being teenagers!

  12. OMG I love the concepts for your stories. I would definitely want to read about the recycled characters (sort Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-esque, no?)

    I too fell into YA because that's the way my voice always came out. No matter how hard I tried to write like a grown-up, I always end up sounding like a 13-year-old.

    Thanks so much for joining the blogfest!

  13. Thanks everybody for visiting and commenting on why you write what you write. I think it so often is about what the characters compel the writer to say, the way they make you stay true to the story.
    @ Gabriela - thanks for hosting the blogfest, it was lots of fun and I met great people. Keep up the awesome!
    @suze - what DO you write? I'm intrigued by the idea of something that doesn't exist out there already. Are you writing the book you wish you could read?

  14. Your book sounds awesome! I think the best thing to do as a writer is to find the right story that needs to be told - no matter what genre it is. Right now the stories pouring out of me are YA but who knows what I'll write in the future?

    (Sorry for the late comment! I was away from my computer all weekend. Thanks for participating in our blog fest!)


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