Fiction for adults young and old

No doubt my memory is failing me, but I can’t remember from my teenage years any category of fiction labelled “Young Adult”. Indeed, I cannot even remember the term “Young Adult”. I gather this term refers to teenagers, but why one cannot simply say “teenager” – which, as well as being more descriptive and less cumbersome, has the advantage of not sounding like something concocted by some faceless marketing department – I cannot imagine.

The reason I mention this is that in my peregrinations around the net, I frequently come across posts and articles fulminating on how absolutely ghastly those people are who look down on Young Adult Fiction. Now, I enjoy looking down on something as much as the next person, and if there really is anything in “Young Adult Fiction” that is worth looking down on, I wouldn’t want to miss out. But the problem is that I don’t know what “Young Adult Fiction” is in the first place.

Quite apart from the unwieldy nature of the term, I am a bit puzzled by its import. After one has matured mentally into adulthood – and that, of course, occurs at different ages for different people – there seems to me little point in classifying further in terms of age for the purpose merely of creating yet more literary ghettoes. If a book can be of value to an Old Adult, why can it not also be of value to a Young? Or, for that matter, vice versa ? If the adult population of readers is to be subdivided in terms of age, can we now look forward to “Middle-Aged Adult Fiction”, and “Mature Adult Fiction”, and, perhaps, “Geriatric Adult Fiction”?

In any case, what do Young Adults themselves – or teenagers, as a middle-aged fogey like myself prefers to call them – think of all this? Looking back on my own teenage years, I would have found it patronising to have been described as a “Young Adult”, and would have felt grossly insulted by the idea that some committee somewhere has met to determine which books are most suitable for my age. If teenagers feel no longer patronised and insulted by this sort of thing, the world has indeed changed over the last forty or so years – far more so than I had realised.

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42 responses to this post.

  1. Get with the beat, Grandad. Here at YA Press we writes anything that is to do with youth and youth issues, and that might be tasty sex , celebrity, parents, the supernatural, anything on twitter- anything catches my eye that buzzes, not just all that Jane Auston, William Shakepear and opera rubbish you always banging on about. The time for revolution is now and you ain’t, ffs

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  2. So true – these are terms created by marketers, largely. Books and readers should have genres, not age barriers.

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    • Indeed. My concern is not about different types of books (or “genres”), but the labels that are being put on them purely for marketing reasons. I suppose we have no option but to let the marketing people have their way, but we shouldn’t allow marketing considerations to influence the way we think about books.

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      • Question: does a designation like Young Adult actually show concern for the reading ability and tastes of the young reader or is it just a convenient way to make marketing of a product easier to the adults who haven’t the time or inclination to read what they buy for their children and to form their own opinion of the applicability of the reading matter to the specific child?

        When I was in 3rd grade I was caught bringing a copy of Macbeth to school and my parents were contacted. Being about eight I wanted to share a good ghost story with witches and sword-fights but the school district felt it was necessary to shame me and stifle my curiosity.

        I think a designation like Young Adult is best left to the public swimming pool scheduler or the ticket seller at the local cinema. Books are very personal and I know too many adults that should have read a few more Babar titles when they had the chance.

  3. A “young adult” was once a 22 year old. Harry Potter books are classified as “Young Adult” and are read avidly by 9 year-olds. Therefore, 9 year-olds are now young adults. Teenagers? We are way past teenagers.

    There is actually a new label floating around for books actually aimed at teens & youngish college students, but I do not remember what it is and hope I never see it again.

    The secret that adult readers of so called “Young Adult” novels do not like to talk about is the reading level. Thus the attempt to define the books by the age of the protagonist, rather than the real limits on vocabulary and sentence structure which are as often as not imposed by the publisher and fixed up by an editor.

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    • Harry Potter isn’t really YA – it’s “middle grade”, which is roughly 9-12 year olds (admittedly some consider this a sub-category of YA). YA is more like the “Northern Lights” trilogy, or the “Hunger Games” trilogy or Stephanie Meyers’ lovable vampires.

      The truth is these marketing categories existed long before anyone was talking about them. Something like Alan Garner’s “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen” was clearly aimed at the middle grade category, though it was written back in the 1960s.

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      • Agreed that genres have always existed, whether acknowledged or not. But increasingly, I get the impression – looking around the net, talking to people, seeing how books are promoted and spoken about – that the reading public increasingly think in terms of “genres”, even when there is no pressing need to do so. It seems to me to lead to a ghetto-isation of literature, and it really is quite unnecessary. Books such as Alan Garner’s, whomever they may have been aimed at, are surely good enough to be read by anyone of any age; so why label them in the first place?

    • Tom, the label is ‘New Adult’.

      I apologise, I really do…

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    • The reading level is not very high in non-YA fiction either. In most of the books i browse the prose is simple to the point of simple-mindedness.

      I was recently flicking through a book I remember having enjoyed greatly when I was 12 – “Smith” by Leon Garfield. It was aimed, I believe, at pre-teens and young teenages (i.e 11-15 or so). But the prose is a delight.. There is absolutely no patronising here. Do contmporary books aimed for readers of that age make similar demands of children, I wonder? I don’t know – but I would be glad to be directed to one.

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  4. Posted by Marita on January 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    ‘Young Adult’ fiction didn’t exist when I was a teenager, but I do remember books in Dutch for ‘Older Girls’.

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    • I am trying desperately to think whether there was a “teenage” genre (or something similar) when I was growing up. I honest can’t remember! All I remember was that i couldn’t wait to get out of the children’s section and read the books “grown-ups” read!

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    • I guess one advantage of the “Young Adult” label is that it is so nebulous, just about anyone could qualify as one. If it comes to that … I’m an adult, and I’m young (young at heart, if nothing else!) 🙂

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  5. Marketing, surely. Adult infantilism too. Picking out books for my 8 and 10 year old goddaughters had started to become a teeth-grinding exercise, as one bookstore clerk after another would steer me to the latest “YA” (or “middle-grade” or whatever) novel-du-jour. I’ve given that gig up and gone back to literature without such marketing qualifications. The younger one’s reading Kipling and Roald Dahl. The older one is reading Watership Down and Dickens (and, well, some “YA” vampire books, but she can blame her mother for those…).

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    • Posted by Carolyn on January 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      But apart from Dickens, all those authors are under the genre of Children’s Literature. At least in our library. One Roald Dahl in the YAF, but all the rest in the children’s section. Not YA, but still genre books. Kids of twelve or thirteen do have different interests and different reading habits from adults. But the YAF books I read are generally well written, thoughtful and entertaining, and none the worse for being in a section where I know where to find them.

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      • I remember Dickens, Kipling et al being in the children’s section in the library back in the 70s, but they were in the adult section also. I assume that is still the case.

        “Kids of twelve or thirteen do have different interests and different reading habits from adults.”

        Agreed. But as you imply, “kids of twelve or thirteen” are not adults, and therefore hardly qualify for the “Young Adult” label. And yes, no doubt many Young Adult Books are indeed thoughtful and well-written. Many are also thoughtless and shoddily written. No different from non-Young-Adult books in that respect. So I am just wondering out loud what is to be gained from separating off “Young Adult” from otheradults.

      • My comment was admittedly reactionary and cynical, and I’m hardly an expert on YAF (or on young adults themselves, for that matter). But I think Himadri’s point – that these authors (Kipling, Dahl, Adams, Dickens…Stevenson, Sabatini, Aiken, Wilde…) were also in the adult section – is more what I’m getting at. They are all authors who somehow manage to transcend age categories. Well, Dahl is all over the map; some of his books I could give to my youngest relatives, while others I’d be afraid to give to some adults. I don’t doubt that some YAF works are well-written, thoughtful and entertaining. But my experience with others has been that they are intentionally written with an unusually specified niche age range – and with a marketing strategy – in mind, and thus can come across as little more than narrow and temporarily entertaining commodities, rather than as literature capable of standing the test of time – or that of audiences of different ages.

        Of course, as a young adult, I read plenty of fiction that wouldn’t stand the test of time or adult taste, and I can’t say that I have any regrets.

      • Of course, as a young adult, I read plenty of fiction that wouldn’t stand the test of time or adult taste, and I can’t say that I have any regrets.

        Me too! I particularly used to love adventure stories. But regardless of whether or not the books we read can stand the test of time or adult taste, they do, i think, play a considerable role in moulding our tastes. This is something I think I need to think about later. Does growing up with love stories predispose teh adult reader to enjoy, say, Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre? Does my childhood love of adventure stories predispose me to enjoy Conrad? I’m sure it plays some part…

        Cheers for now,
        Himadri

    • There are still wonderful books around for all age groups – regardless of the labels stuck on them. There are really awful books as well, but once again, that’s the same with non-Young-Adult books also.

      But I am concerned though that, in general, we underestimate the abilities of children, and don’t stretch them when it comes to reading. I think this is because we see reading mainly as a diversion, and therefore don’t feel the need to challenge children to come out of their comfort zone.

      Recently, reading Jane Eyre, there was a passage where Jane’s friend, Helen Burns, aged about 13 or so, is reading Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas. this was merely dropped almost in passing: it wasn’t presented as anything extraordinary that a 13-year-old girl should be reading Samuel Johnson.

      Do we stretch our 13-year-olds – even the brighter ones – in this manner? If not, why not? Why shouldn’t we recommend a bright 13-year-old to read Rasselas?

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  6. Posted by Carolyn on January 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Harry Potter is classified as children’s books in our libraries here, and I always think you must need to be a very persistent reader to get through these at the age of 10 or so.

    Young adult has the same meaning as children’s novels, really. They are based on the age of the main protagonist. People called The Book Thief a children’s book, which it didn’t seem to me at all, but I suppose that was because it was seen from the point of view of a child.

    I like YAF – it is relatively easy and quick to read, but has a meatiness that similar adult fiction doesn’t have. The last one I read was set in Palestine with young teenagers trying to make their way to Jerusalem. A family story with bite.

    It may be a marketing device, but it is also helpful for teachers and librarians when choosing new books. My only quibble is that some of these are very strong in their subject matter. It’s hard to pick one off the shelf that isn’t rather heart-breaking. (That’s probably not quite true – I tend to ignore books that are obviously adventure stories, and there are a fair few of those two in this genre. Even then they are not for the faint-hearted.)

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  7. The expression is used so that adults feel less embarrassed about reading kids’ books. And that really is all there is to it.

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    • That reminds me of those people in their thirties who get offended when I remark that it’s strange for people their age to still be interested in playing videogames all day. And who then passionately defend videogames as art. Bizarre world…

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    • Sadly, I tend to agree.

      Why they should be embarrassed, Ii do not know: we are all entitled to read whatever we want, surely. But there it is.

      It’s difficult to discuss these issues without appearing to look down on people for their tastes. I don’t mean to do that. Indeed, as an aficionado of old Hammer horror films, I am in no position to do that. But I do strongly get the impression that reading is increasingly regarded merely as a diversion, and as nothing more. And that cannot be a good thing for literary culture: if literary culture is to thrive, we do need to acknowledge at least some degree of seriousness.

      I think there has been most incontrovertibly an infantilisation in mainstream cinema. So it’s no surprise if a similar process has taken place also in mainstream literature.

      Reply

  8. Not really sure what you’re objecting to here. Someone invented a category to help publishers and bookshops target a certain demographic. So what? We didn’t have “women’s fiction” or “gay and lesbian fiction” or even “literary fiction” as marketing categories much before the 1980s. No-one’s saying these categories are compulsory, or forbidden, to any demographic. They’re just supposed to help people find what they’re looking for. And YA isn’t the same as teenage fiction, because it principally targets only the lower half of the teen demographic. In fact it used to be called “young teens”, but presumably that was considered too prescriptive, or undesirable to its target audience.
    I don’t see why adult’s shouldn’t read fiction with young teen protagonists if they want – whether it’s The Hunger Games or The Lord of the Flies (both YA to my mind).

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    • “Not really sure what you’re objecting to here…”

      Oh, I was just trying to stir up a bit of controversy, to liven the blog up a bit. “Shit-stirring”, I think the expression is. But there are certain matters regarding this that I do, I must admit, feel uneasy about.

      I think that the creation of such categories as “women’s fiction” and “gay and lesbian fiction” is precisely what I am objecting to. Works such as Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre were not regarded as “women’s fiction” when they were first published, and were neither promoted nor seen as such. Nowadays, we are so accustomed to viewing literature in terms of “genre”, these same books now are widely regarded as “women’s fiction”; and that seems to me a retrograde step.

      Nowadays, I go into bookshops and see different shelves labelled “Gay Fiction”, “Women’s Fiction”, “Black and Asian Fiction” (for trans-Atlantic readers, “Asian” in UK refers to the Indian sub-continent) etc., and I find myself cringing. Literature can build bridges; so why build walls instead? This seems to me, effectively, cultural apartheid, based on the damaging assumption that readers are primarily interested in reading about what comes most closely to their own personal experience. We wouldn’t put up with such segregation when it comes to people, and quite rightly so; why put up with it when it comes to the books people write?

      “No-one’s saying these categories are compulsory, or forbidden, to any demographic.”

      I agree, no-one’s saying it; but in practice, this is what happens. If it didn’t, different genres wouldn’t have different demographics in the first place. How often do men browse through shelves marked women’s fiction? How often to straight people browse through shelves marked “Gay fiction”? Would not writers such as, say, Rosamond Lehmann or Elizabeth Bowen have been more widely read by men if they weren’t stuck with the rather fatuous label “Women’s fiction”? These labels but encourage cultural separateness – cultural apartheid.

      As for the “literary genre”, I have already had a good rant about that one. (Interestingly, I started that post saying precisely what you are saying – that we have always had genres!) To recap, to describe a book as “literary”, for me, can only mean that that work possesses literary qualities – just as a painting described as “artistic” means it possesses artistic qualities. To define “literary” in any other way is, it seems to me, to diminish the value we place on literary quality. It is also to insult good writers usually labelled as “genre”: are we to assume, for instance, that genre writers such as, say, Ursula le Guin or George Macdonald Fraser or Patricia Highsmith do not possess literary quality, because their works are not labelled “literary”?

      “And YA isn’t the same as teenage fiction, because it principally targets only the lower half of the teen demographic.”

      According to Wikipedia, studies by the Publishers Weekly magazine indicate that “55% of young-adult fiction is purchased by readers over 18 years of age.” I do not know how reliable this study is (I’m afraid my researches in this area go no further than Wikipedia!), but the result does not surprise me, given the number of internet sites I come across with articles by people clearly not in “the lower half of the teen demographic” extolling “Young Adult” fiction; and given the number of fully-grown adults I see on commuter trains and buses reading “Young Adult” fiction. Not that I am objecting to any of this: as I keep saying, people are entitled to read whatever they want, and I am sure there is much that is labelled “Young Adult” that is very fine indeed. (Philip Pullman, for instance.) But if it is indeed the case (and I see no reason to doubt it) that books labelled as “Young Adult” have significant following amongst readers no longer in their teens, then it should not be surprising that publishers, who are naturally very aware of their readership’s demographics, should target these older readers also with book sclassed as “Young Adult”. In short, I don’t know that I agree with you that Young Adult fiction “targets only the lower half of the teen demographic”. Given the actual demographic of its readers, its target is bound to be considerably wider.

      “So what?” you may well ask. Well, so nothing, I suppose. But I don’t know… I do value literary culture, and would like to see it flourish; and I don’t know that literary culture – or any culture – can flourish if it is not taken sufficiently seriously. While I have no objection to people reading whatever they want, the increased incidence of people reading books aimed, at least ostensibly, at a lower age-group, does seem to me to indicate a decline in the level of seriousness.

      I can appreciate of course that different people mature at different rates, thus making it impossible to decide when people, in general, become “adults”. And yes, I can appreciate, as Caro says, that “kids of twelve or thirteen do have different interests and different reading habits from adults”. But once one has become an adult, young or otherwise; once one has passed the age where one can vote (18 in UK); or even once one has passed the age of 15 or 16 or so; the idea that one needs special books of a different nature from the ones that “grown-ups” read does strike me as rather ludicrous.

      Reply

  9. An interesting exercise to pass a summer day down by the lazy stream under the cottonwoods when the catfish are a-jumpin’ is to consider all the elements of life that didn’t exist when, say, you were a wee bairn. Advances in technology are a given but what did those advances do to change the way we live? Has the local football team on television taken the place of a rousing game of Pachesi or the many quiet hours pinching suckers off the tomato plants?

    Say, who remembers when Chapter Books were invented?

    When I was young it was common to divide the library collection into three sections: Children, Adults, and Reference Only. This was logical, not only for the matching of reading material to the correct age group, but also since there were different check-out rules for different materials. I remember how proud I was when one day at the library I was allowed to seek knowledge and entertainment in the stacks on the other side of the library: I was an adult at last!

    But about this Young Adult categorization: as others have said, the world of literature and books has been taken over by commercial people and countless genre differentiations have been created to closer target specific audiences and to keep the confusion to a minimum in the big-box-bookstores (consider pre-juvenile young adult historical romance in large print with the naughty bits and challenging concepts removed to protect little minds). As I have stated when discussing this proliferation of genres, there is really only one that applies .. FICTION.

    It’s All Fiction!

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    • I remember how proud I was when one day at the library I was allowed to seek knowledge and entertainment in the stacks on the other side of the library: I was an adult at last!

      Yes, that was my experience also. This is why i find the popularity of a label such as “Young Adult” patronising, and find myself surprised that there appears to be so little objection to it.

      Reply

  10. Posted by alan on January 16, 2014 at 12:04 am

    I think this category used to be called ‘juvenile’ (but my memory is failing me as well – perhaps that was an American book category), and not meant in any pejorative sense.
    Given that ‘Adult’ is often a euphemism for sex and violence I’m not sure that any variation on this label tells us a lot, because a lot of juvenile fiction is more adult in the sense of being mature than is ‘Adult’ fiction.
    My memory of the ‘juvenile’ category was that it was usually ‘rite of passage’ or ‘bildungsroman’ in nature.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Carolyn on January 16, 2014 at 5:10 am

    Yes, I recently was writing an article about the New Year celebrations in my area, and they were mostly for children. I wanted to say the hoe-down at a pub was more adult, but decided I had to avoid that term for the reasons you say, Alan, and went for “sophisticated” which, of course, a hoe-down isn’t.

    I rather like different genres differentiated – our library used to have a separate crime section but the chief librarian must have decided literature was literature and put them all together, which makes it harder to find specific crime books, even though they do have a little symbol on them. I suppose it means that the often quite literary and serious crime novels of today can just be placed without worrying about where to put them.

    Reply

    • No matter how many genre sections in the public library, the books are still filed alphabetically by author. If your librarian decided that fiction is fiction, then all the fiction books are filed alphabetically as a unit. When there are too many genre differentiations, a reader looking for a specific book might have to visit multiple parts of the library to find the book. For instance, is The Murders In the Rue Morgue filed under literature or mystery or detective or suspense? How much easier it would be to go right to Poe and find the book filed alphabetically.

      Another point is that the more possibilities for filing a book, the greater the chance for error. For instance, on Netflix they show the movie American Psycho in the Comedy section … did you laugh?

      Reply

      • I remember years ago, ahving obtained for myself a handsome hardback edition of Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain”, I gave my old paperback copy away to a jumble sale. I later visited that sale, and was much amused to see that paperback volume I had given them in the shelf marked “Children’s Books”.

      • Posted by Carolyn on January 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm

        Yes, but that is why I liked the crime fiction section; I didn’t have to know what author I wanted to read. Now if I fancy a crime novel, I tend to go to authors I already know as crime writers. In a separate section I could find new authors easily or browse the possibilities. In my tiny library it’s still easy enough (this has everything together except picture books, children’s fiction and non-fiction, YAF (and a very few books for YA non-fiction), westerns, and large-print) but in the larger parent library you have to rely on serendipity or other people’s recommendations – if you’ve remembered to bring them along.

        A lot of the adults buying YAF will surely be teachers or people buying them for presents for younger people. Young Adult isn’t patronising to a 13 or 14 year old. I think Teenage is more so (tends to come with connotations of bad/silly behaviour). Adults are perfectly happy to go into the kids’ sections to find Harry Potters or Wind in the Willows or whatever, but young teenagers don’t always enjoy being seen in the children’s section or want to take out adults’ books. (And their parents might not want them to – after my son enjoyed some Clan of the Cave Bear books I suggested them to a good child reader but someone with more knowledge than me said “No”, the sex in them wouldn’t be appreciated by that strongly religious family.

      • Any librarian or bookseller worth their salt should be able to direct prospective readers to crime writing they haven’t tried. And if not, if they really are reduced to the prospect of having to browse the shelves, just think what previously unknown treasures they may unearth along the way!

        And here’s some unsolicited advice for adults buying books for teenagers, or for young adults, or whatever you want to call them:

        Get them “grown-up” books, demanding books, books that will stretch and exercise their intellects and their receptive powers. If they take to these books (and many will, given the chance), you will have played an important part in their development. And if they don’t – well, at least you have the consolation of knowing that you’ve tried your best!

  12. I have been banging my head against this wall for over two years. I wrote a science fiction novel that happens to have teenage (and younger) characters, because that’s how it formed in my head. I had barely even heard of YA, but it was quickly made clear to me by fellow writers that my story was YA and I was going to have to read up in the genre so that my book would fit. What I read depressed me tremendously: vapid, simplistic, tedious and, in far too many cases, filled with nihilistic violence with no context or purpose except shock and sensationalism (how on earth something like The Hunger Games got marketed as suitable for children rather than being rightfully classed as horror is beyond me). I tried to conform, but failed, and what I ended up with is the sort of thing I would have read years ago as a teen or young adult, when I was reading stuff by Bradbury, Chalker, Heinlein, Clarke and so forth. It was just called science fiction. We didn’t need it to be labeled as “This book totally gets you.”

    We did have “teen” or “juvenile” books, but they were all contemporary stories about real teen issues like “What’s happening to my body?” and “How can I get her to like me?” and “Why don’t my parents understand?” There’s a very important place for those books, but it becomes nonsense when it spreads out into every genre. A fantasy is a fantasy, whether the hero is sixteen or sixty. Slaying a dragon doesn’t have to be a metaphor for standing up to bullies. The worst part is that it’s retroactive. Something like Ender’s Game is now being classed as YA, despite the fact that it isn’t. Any wonder why the movie tanked?

    How did we get here? It’s too easy to say it’s indicative of a dumbing down of society, although I’m sure that’s part of it. But I do know that among the hallmarks of YA is the requirement that it be a fast, straightforward read with a clothesline plot and not an undue amount of characterization or setting development. In other words, easy to adapt into a movie. And that’s what it’s all about. That’s where the money is. J. K. Rowling did not become the wealthiest author in history because of her books.

    To answer your question about what the teens think, if my college-age students are any indication, most of them aren’t even reading this YA stuff, or anything else. Those who do read, will read whatever sounds interesting, and, as often as not, have a low opinion of the books most blatantly set up to be YA.

    As for my book, I have failed to get it published. Agents who handle YA won’t touch it because it is too long and has the wrong voice and pacing. But I can’t pitch it as straight sci-fi because it has teens, so it must be YA. I lose no matter what.

    Reply

    • “I do know that among the hallmarks of YA is the requirement that it be a fast, straightforward read with a clothesline plot and not an undue amount of characterization or setting development. In other words, easy to adapt into a movie.”

      I thought this was the standard creative writing school formula for all new fiction and not limited to Young Adult.

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    • Hello Robert, and welcome.

      What you describe is a sad state of affairs. If I read you correctly, what you write has been pre-determined to beloNg in the “Young Adult” genre (even though you weren’t writing with any particular age group in mind); and then rejected because it doesn’t correspond with what is expected from the genre that you weren’t writing for in the first place. This is utterly daft, but given the obsession the publishing industry seems to have with genres, not really very surprising.

      I wish you all the best in finding a publisher.

      My best wishes,
      Himadri

      Reply

  13. Posted by Brian Joseph on January 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    When I was younger I remember that my library would have a sticker on books labeled “YA”. I totally understand the aversion to patronization. As soon as i saw that sicker I rejected the book as a possibility! I only read books written for full fledged adults! In retrospect I likely rejected some worthy books.

    I think that the term Young Adult has changed. At least some of the time, it seems to be a marketing term to describe books that fit into few narrow categories of plot and characters.

    Reply

  14. I just found this site when I googled YA fiction. And it’s scary! 🙂 I’ve only written “Adult” historical fiction and having determined to have my characters live in their time, not ours, I wasn’t politically correct enough. Okay, so I learned.

    Only now I want to write actual history–from memoirs written later, letters and journals of the time, and one or two superbly researched books–except fictionalized by moving some incidents and adding a fictionalized narrator to go with the actual one (probably by alternating pov–I haven’t yet decided on first or third person.)

    Here’s where the classification YA trips me up: both narrators, real and fictional, are young: one 10, one 15 (how’s that for crossing genres already? 🙂 ) so am I to write the book as I visualize it? Or am I to be limited to fast action, short sentences, and a readership with a supposed short attention span?

    It’s set in the Civil War period of 1863–an interesting time to many people even yet, but in a part of the South that little has been written about, but which I think has great potential as a story.

    But what “literary/genre” style shackles am I going to have to wear? For several very good reasons I’ll probably opt for Kindle, yet even there I’ll have to identify it. I would go with adult classification but with the ages of the main characters…

    Any suggestions will truly be appreciated.

    Reply

    • Hello Renee, and welcome.
      Your comment demonstrates well the madness of ghettoising literature into “genres””, each with their prescribed “rules”. To speak in terms of genres may well be convenient for the marketing bods, but once it all becomes part of literary discourse, or, worse, once it is used to shackle writers, something is badly wrong.

      I wish you all the best in your writing,
      Himadri

      Reply

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