i did not originally set out to write YA fiction. in fact, when i queried agents for my first novel, i targeted those who represented women's lit. somewhere along the submission process i realized what i'd actually written was a young adult novel. and that realization was comforting.
i've been reading since early childhood, but it wasn't until fourth grade that books really began to speak to me. i can remember so clearly sitting in a circle with my friends in the back of our classroom, taking turns reading aloud from are you there god? it's me, margaret - absolutely baffled as to why you'd have to wear a belt with a pad.
judy blume taught us what our mothers wouldn't about periods.
actually, judy taught us just about everything.
i eventually graduated from judy blume to francine pascal's sweet valley high series. and when i got sick of the formulaic plots (and having to read the same paragraph in each book about how jessica and elizabeth may look the same but couldn't be more different) i moved on to novels that dealt with meatier subject matter.
strangely enough, i quit reading YA books in high school. in fact, i didn't start reading them again until after i'd written my first three novels.
yup - i wrote three young adult novels without even being familiar with the genre. i had no clue about current trends, or the target audience. all i knew was how much i enjoyed reading about teenagers when i was a kid, and how perfectly natural if felt to write about them.
so, three finished YA novels and no representation.
turns out i was damn good at writing two paragraph synopses, because i had many, many requests for my manuscripts. but all those requests were followed by rejection letters.
after novel #3 i was burned out, and still i didn't read any YA (not even twilight!).
when i started my current wip, i was honest with myself. i knew this wasn't just a hobby for me. that this was what i really wanted to do with my life, and that meant i had to do my homework.
having a good idea isn't enough. neither is having a great idea. it has to be well-crafted and polished.
so now i actively read the genre.
now i can see the difference between a good story and good writing. and the more i read, the more i wish to improve my skills so i can move on to refining them. and the more i know that YA is right where i want to be.