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Tony Grist

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Young Adult Fiction [Sep. 8th, 2009|11:08 am]
Tony Grist
Judy's mother writes young adult novels. Her latest features an adult heroine and her publishers won't buy it- so she's rejigging it as an adult novel. Apparently kids only want to read about kids. Really?

When I was kid the last thing I wanted to read about was some guy having problems with acne and girls. I wanted to read about the adult world-  with a view to figuring it out before I got there.  And so I read adventure stories and detective fiction and my heroes were people like Allen Quartermain and  Sherlock Holmes. I didn't want to be a half-licked bear cub, I wanted to be a great white hunter or the greatest detective in Victorian London.

And then- when I was about 15-  I read War and Peace and there was absolutely no going back.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2009-09-08 10:34 am (UTC)
I had absolutely no interest in books about teenagers, because I didn't particularly care about clothes or boys. I went from children's books to science fiction and Sherlock Holmes.

Strangely, I do read YA novels now...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-09-08 02:00 pm (UTC)
I discovered Alan Garner in adulthood. He gets classified as YA but his best work- The Owl Service for example- demands a lot more from the reader than most adult novels do.

Just because there are teenagers in it, doesn't mean that teenagers are the target audience.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-09-08 02:25 pm (UTC)
I loved Haggard's books. Once again your posts has inspired a very long reply about British authors of children's books, which I cut and pasted to my own LJ. Is it plagiarism of a sort when I consistently reply to your posts in my LJ? If so, I am sorry. However, I do try to give credit for the source (you) of the inspiration.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-09-08 03:41 pm (UTC)
No, it's not plagiariam- it's merely replying to a prompt- and I'm flattered by it.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-09-09 01:55 am (UTC)
I reply to a heck of a lot of your prompts...
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From: sculptruth
2009-09-08 03:36 pm (UTC)
I grew up reading really old children's books from the 19th century through the twenties, which were (in retrospect) not really about children but larger philosophies or adventure, such as all of Mark Twain's books or Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Books (the original not Disney, and all of them) and Just So Stories. I even read the Lord of the Rings series when I was real young and loved it, as well as the Chronicles of Narnia.

So even though children's lives in and of themselves didn't interest me, I did read plenty of pre-teen and young adult books with kids in them. The stories as I remember them all had something deeper about them, they weren't just fluff. Judy Blume got me through quite a lot as a pre-teen, I have to give her credit. So did Anne of Green Gables, the Moffats, the Secret Garden, and oddly enough, the Ramona series which I devoured. I'm sure there were more. And let's not forget the first time I opened Stranger in a Strange Land or any of Ray Bradbury's books.

I'm never surprised that young people want to read books about other young people - after all, kids are always comparing their place in the world; but I am *really* surprised to hear that young people might only want to read about young people. That's strange to me.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-09-08 04:21 pm (UTC)
Kipling is one of those writers who offers something for every age- from the Just So Stories for little children, through the Jungle Books and Kim, to his adult fiction- some of which is mind-bendingly difficult.

Good writing is good writing whatever age it's aimed at. I read Stevenson's Kidnapped- the ultimate boy's adventure story- for the first time recently and I didn't have to make any allowances for it.
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From: sculptruth
2009-09-09 01:45 pm (UTC)
I love being free to read without allowances! And I've had this urge recently to go through all the books I loved as a kid and re-read them (in fact I do have a couple I cycle through regularly).
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[User Picture]From: redatt
2009-09-08 09:47 pm (UTC)
I've heard (and I see that) advertisers routinely use children slightly older than their target age group, because they know that children aspire to be older/more grown up. So, um, I think that publisher might well be missing a trick.

Edited at 2009-09-08 09:48 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-09-09 08:16 am (UTC)
I agree. I think commercial caution has blinkered their judgement.

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