I was interviewed recently for a local paper. This was one of the questions and my answer. It’s a question with different answers so feel free to chime in. I’d love to know what you think.
Q: What is significant about young adult fiction? How has it changed and where is this industry heading?
Young adulthood is a time of life that exists unto itself. It is full of “firsts.” It is a place of limbo between childhood and adulthood that can be awkward and confusing and incredibly enlightening. The literature speaks to that.
Young Adult literature has grown tremendously in popularity since I started in the field in the early 90’s. Then, it was a lesser-known field and had small to moderate sales, though quality writing was evident. It was kind of a hidden and marginalized field, giving those in it a certain bond. But things shift and publishing is cyclical. Now the YA field is booming and it has “cool” factor–much due to Harry Potter and Twilight, both so immensely popular that it put the field on the map in a big way. These books were (and still are) being read, selling, and making money. This is both good and bad. Good, because more people are aware of the legitimacy and excellence of books for children and therefore more writers are emerging and publishing. Bad, because like everything that becomes popular it can attract quality of all levels and tends to follow the immediate trend. The trend now is vampires and the super natural, so that overshadows those who want to read and write more contemporary or historical fiction. The heightened popularity of one or two “big bang” books can sometimes take the focus away from the smaller, riskier books. However, the need for all types of young adult literature is not going away. More adults are reading in this field because there are so many good books available.
As far as the future of the industry, you’d get a more knowledgeable answer from someone directly in publishing—publishers are thinking very hard about all that. Publishing will likely continue to shift to a variety of multi-media forms, but we will always need good storytellers. The form in which it reaches an audience doesn’t matter. Writers who continue to create thought-provoking, entertaining, and enlightening stories for children and young adults do.
Very much appreciate your thoughts on YA literature. As a writer, I find it wonderful that YA has broadened its boundaries and incorporated crossover novels as it makes room for deep, honest exploration of this pivotal time of life. As the mother of teenagers, I value books that my kids and I can ALL read, enjoy and meaningfully reflect upon. YA books truly get handed around our household.