A short time ago I reviewed Anais Butt and the Hairy-Handed Gent here on the blog. I enjoyed it. You can catch up with that review here.
Today, I am honored to have the author of Anais Butt - Kate Welshman - right here guest posting on the blog.
Welcome Kate! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
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Crazy for YA: Why do adults read young adult fiction?
by Kate Welshman, author of ‘Anais Butt and the Hairy-Handed Gent’
I know why I write YA fiction. No, it’s not because I’m regressing or trying to prolong my adolescence by focusing on teenagers. I wouldn’t want to go back to being a teenager if I could. It was hard. And I don’t think many adult YA readers would turn back the clock either. So why read a book that’s written for and about teenagers?
This morning I did some research (clue: Google) on the subject and discovered a relevant discussion thread on Goodreads. The reasons for people in their 20s, 30s and upwards still opening YA books were varied. One woman wanted to read together with her teenage daughter and discuss the issues raised in the books. Another woman said that YA lacks the pretentiousness of adult genres. and is more creative and original. A man said he liked the diversity of YA, the fact that it can be edgy or sweet – the author can write the way they like. Another woman said that she finds adult books boring compared with YA literature, and that books for teens keep her in a youthful frame of mind. A few people said that the characters of YA books aren’t jaded yet, and that’s refreshing. There was also a strong consensus that the stories in YA books are more interesting.
I agree with these honest responses to the question, but digging deeper and, to some extent, projecting my own feelings about writing YA literature, I think that adults read YA because it’s a transforming genre. YA books feature characters on the verge of transformation, particularly in the paranormal and fantasy sub-genres. That’s why they’re interesting. First-class YA books usually depict a coming of age. The main character is a different person by the end of the book. They are having emotionally charged, first-time experiences. As adults, we find transformation fascinating. Boys entering manhood, women on the brink of womanhood, boundaries being explored – that is what appeals. That and the distinct freshness of the YA voice (in my opinion, Vernon’s voice in Vernon God Little is the freshest out there).
It took me a while to work out why I wanted to write the Anais Butt series, the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but revamped for young adults. It’s because it depicts sexual awakening, as well as other coming-of-age events. It’s the attraction of the broad-backed Big Bad Wolf, with his languid exterior, which only reveals glimpses of his rampant sexuality. That’s what it’s about for me.
Young adult literature is transforming and transformative for reader and author alike. That’s my explanation for its burgeoning popularity and acceptance into mainstream adult literature, anyway. Do you have a better one?