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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Post: Victoria Hanley on the Evolution of the Young Adult Genre

If you're an aspiring YA writer then listen up! Victoria Hanley is here today to talk a little bit about her newest book Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market and the Evolution of YA as a genre. Wild Ink is filled with interviews with YA authors, editors, and agents as well as tips, advice and writing exercises to keep you inspired! Take it away Victoria...

Victoria Hanley loves to nurture emerging writers. She is a YA novelist published in 13 languages, and her books for teens have received awards and honors in the U.S. and abroad, including the International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choices list, the Colorado Book Award, the Kallbacher-Klapperschlange Award (Germany), Colorado Authors League Top Hand Award, Publishers West Silver Award, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. Her work has also been placed on state award lists in Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, and Colorado and has earned a Carnegie Medal nomination in the United Kingdom.
Visit her at www.victoriahanley.com

Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing 
and Publishing in the Young Adult Market
Release date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Prufrock Press
Buy: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound

 What do you need to know to break in to the flourishing young adult (YA) market? With humor and a solid grounding in reality, author Victoria Hanley helps readers understand the ins and outs of the YA genre, how to stay inspired, and how to avoid common mistakes writers make in trying to reach teens. This book includes unique writing exercises to help readers find their own authentic teen voice and dozens of interviews with YA authors, blogging experts, editors, and agents to give inspiration and guidance for getting published. Chapters include writing exercises and self-editing techniques tailored to YA, along with encouraging words on dealing with self-doubt, rejection, and lack of time.

If you’ve recently read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, it won’t surprise you to hear that it’s not just teens who are reading books in the YA genre. Recent surveys confirm that adults  check out plenty of “teen” titles from the library—for their own enjoyment.

Like everything else in the publishing industry, the YA genre is rapidly evolving. Once defined as stories for readers ages 12 and up, YA now includes 3 categories.

The 12+ category is the most traditional, and it’s been around for a long time. But 14+ (also known as Grade 9 – 12) is relatively new; it’s reserved for stories about young characters grappling with pretty severe hardships in more adult situations. For example, in Todd Mitchell’s The Secret to Lying (14+) the protagonist almost destroys himself by creating a terrifying rift between his inner and outer selves. In Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow (14+) the teen characters are on a cross-generational journey on a spaceship, only to be thrown into pain and chaos when their ship is attacked and all the adults on board killed or captured.

As dire as these situations are, they’re not any more challenging than those faced by Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. The difference? Both The Secret to Lying and Glow include a sex scene, whereas The Hunger Games does not. Sex and/or profanity used to get YA books banned; now sex and profanity place a book into 14+.

At the same time, because today’s young people are exposed to a lot more content much sooner than people a generation ago, many of the books that would once have been 12+ are being moved to the category of 10+. I expect that this particular grouping of YA will soon change again and end up merging with what is now known as Middle Grade (MG), which is designated for ages 9 -12.

Plenty of books fall in the 12+ range, and all three categories are still part of the bigger umbrella of YA. (And just to keep things confusing, different review services will sometimes put the same book into different categories.)

As a genre, YA contains some of the most dazzlingly well-written page turners around (not that I’m biased). Whether you enjoy contemporary realism, dystopian adventure, romance, sci-fi, fantasy,  horror, or some other subgenre, there’s an excellent YA novel just waiting for you!

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