When I was scheduling my blog posts this month, I knew I had to write one about why I write YA fiction. But as I’ve thought it over, I don’t really know why. It’s almost like I can’t NOT write YA fiction. In the past year and a half, I’ve learned at least that much.
In 2017, I was invited to write a short story set in Ohio with a Christian worldview. It could be any genre, any time period, as long as the setting was Ohio. I had the freedom to write any story I chose. I tried writing a humor piece based on a misadventure my sisters and I had during one Christmas when I was in college. As my husband kindly put it, humor is not my thing. I ended up writing “Debt to Pay”, a country noir set in Wayne National Forest and told from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old boy. This was published in an anthology, From the Lake to the River.
In November, Mt. Zion Ridge Press, which had published From The Lake, was accepting Christmas short stories. Again, any genre as long as it had a Christmas setting and Christian worldview. I wanted to write a mystery. For some reason, mysteries and Christmas work really well together. Some of the best stories by the kings and queens of the genre are Christmas mysteries.
I started my mystery from the POV of a thirty-something woman. It didn’t work, the narrative clunking along like a car with two flat tires. Then I realized the point of the story involved the nineteen-year-old girl. When I switched to the first-person POV of the teen character, the story came together faster than a family sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner after a two-hour delay.
So when I had the opportunity to write something completely different from my YA novel, I couldn’t do it. Why? Maybe it’s because I still remember, vividly, being in junior high and high school. The problems teens face are different for each generation. I graduated when cocaine ravaged the country and teen pregnancies were at an all time high. Now teens deal with about cyberbullying and how their online friends seem to have such exciting lives based on their social media posts. But the basic feelings of awkwardness, striving for maturity and fearing it, tentative steps of independence, and so much more are true for every generation of teens. I see that in my own kids.
I also feel a large part of me is still sixteen. I wasn’t one of those teens who thought they would live forever. I just wanted to get out of high school sane and alive. So when I enter awkward situations or get nervous meeting new people, all my teenage fears come roaring back. The nice thing I’ve developed with age is confidence. And the knowledge that if I don’t have confidence and fake it, most people will never know. Often by faking confidence, I’ve experienced the pleasant surprise of the real thing showing up.
If my short description of my Christmas mystery has stirred your interest, check in tomorrow when I reveal the cover of the anthology in which it will be published and give you the blurb for the story.
Why do you write in the genre or genres that you do?