Writing for a YA Audience
Many people ask YA author’s what it’s like to write for a YA audience, and what the challenges are. Personally, I love to write Young Adult, finding it a fertile ground to explore things like love, friendship, struggles, and triumphs. Teenagers face things for the first time, and that adds a richness to each situation that isn’t there in Adult fiction. It gives an author a license to explore things on a whole different emotional level.
Think about being a teen—I know for some of us it’s painful—and how BIG everything seemed. When you look back from an adult lens, it’s easy to say “melodrama” and “angst” because you’ve faced those issues many times as you grew and aged, but back then you hadn’t. Are teens “melodramatic?” They can be, but it’s not an unreasonable reaction when you understand where they are in life. Most of the teens I know are actually far more levelheaded than we give them credit for. And more mature, too. But when you’re dealing with your first breakup, and your heart is broken, it’s a little difficult to be rational.
But, to me, the biggest challenge is staying real. Is my vocabulary too adult? Now, I’ll argue with anyone who says “a teen wouldn’t say esoteric”—have you looked at the SAT vocab list lately? I literally heard a band kid use that on the bus when I chaperoned a few weeks ago. But, it’s not the vocabulary, per se. It’s the voice. Do they sound teen; do they sound less aware of themselves and issues? Do they tackle things with less information than an adult would? Do they make decisions that makes my mom-self shake my head? If the answer’s yes, then you’re closing in on authentic.
My other challenge is “adult” situations. Here’s the thing…as much as we parents don’t want to believe it, our teens (even as young as thirteen) hear—and say—curse words every day. They hear about sex…and many of them are having sex. They drink, too. I don’t love to hear about underage drinking one bit, but they do. So, when a YA uses foul language, explores sexuality, and shows drinking, here’s what we’re actually doing: we’re creating a risk-free space for your teen to experience things, and hopefully showing them what responsible relationships look like. Oh, and demonstrate that bad decisions can have consequences. That’s not to say we preach to teens, but we want them to see a character acting in a way that might keep a reader safe down the road. To parents who take issue with these themes in books…sheltering your kids from literature doesn’t mean you’re sheltering them from the thing itself. In fact, you might be taking away the one place they can learn how things should go.
All in all, I find YA to be one of the most exciting areas of literature today. The rules are very broad and creativity soars. Teens can suspend disbelief for anything as long as the emotions strike a chord with them. I think that may be why so many adults read them too.
The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen – Crush
Publication Date: November 14, 2016
Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.
Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.
Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.
But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.
Disclaimer: This book contains drop-the-book-and-fan-yourself kisses…and touches. Fall in love with a bad boy at your own risk.
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.