Today’s guest post is from Kait Nolan, my agent-mate and author of numerous stand-out books. Her debut YA, Red, released August 2011 and will knock your flippin’ socks off. True story. Kait…take it away:
It is widely known among my compatriots that I love YA fiction. Of the last 27 books I’ve read, 21 were YA. Out of the 63 books on my TBR list, only 4 are not YA. I could be a founding member of Non-Teen YA Addicts Anonymous (NTYAAA). Pronounced “nitty-aaaaaaaah”. Except I suspect that our weekly meetings would turn into more of a book club where we talked about the latest awesome YA we’d read, with possibly inappropriate objectification of teen heroes and posters of Jace Wayland papering the walls. I don’t see it ending with a successful reduction in addiction. More likely there would be exponential increases in the size of our TBR piles. It’s the blind leading the blind, I’m telling you.
I’ve been giving some thought lately to why I’m so completely in love with this genre. One of the big reasons, apart from the fact that the teen heroes and heroines don’t have to deal with boring grown up problems like mortgages and taxes, I love the fact that I can absolutely count on a YA novel (particularly the YA paranormals I am prone toward) to take me OUT of my life. Because they all (or mostly all) adhere to a formula that just does it for me, like chocolate and peanut butter.
Our [spunky/snarky/angsty/vapid/angry/normal] teen hero/ine comes on the scene in assorted manners intended to snag my interest. We get a good illustration of what that character perceives as big problems in his/her ordinary life—that crush who’s totally unavailable, restrictive parents, not getting invited to the biggest party of the year. This may or may not involve what we as readers consider the Normal World, but it’s normal for the hero/ine. Here’s where we’re supposed to identify and connect enough to go along for the rest of the ride.
Then BAM! Something happens that catapults the hero/ine (and the reader) into the extraordinary. Now this is straight hero’s journey dynamics, but what I particularly love about YA as a genre is that that almost always means literally extraordinary. As in something supernatural or paranormal or otherwise way outside the bounds of what would constitute anybody’s day to day life. And that, for me, is the biggest lure of YA fiction—because it is here in this genre that it seems authors are truly pushing the envelope with bigger, better, darker, crazier, zanier adventures that I’ve never read before. It’s crack! Crack, I tell you!
Like any good roller coaster, a good YA will have lots of twists and turns and ups and downs and hair-raising inverted loops, and then it returns the hero/ine (and the reader) back to the world of the ordinary, changed, but better than before for having had the adventure. And that is what has me getting in line, time after time, searching for another high.
What’s your current YA obsession?
Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss. When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.