Michelle called me out. After a lengthy post of harping on those who follow trends I shall give you my ironic confession.

I write Young Adult.

Even worse, I write Young Adult Fantasy.*

Gasp!

Before you cry “Hypocrite!” let me just tell you that I spent about five years resisting this path. I did NOT want to write young adult. I wanted to write picture books and middle-grade novels. And I did not want to write fantasy or anything even close to it. I wanted to write cute cuddly picture books I could give as gifts to my grandmothers, and realistic, literary middle-grade novels that would win a Newbery Medal. (Oh! It would look so good framed and hanging on my wall!) But early on I came to a sad realization. Writing picture books is freakin’ hard. Also, every time I tried to write something serious and realistic I made something fly or disappear.

When I was young and uninhibited, I wrote a story about a turtle who didn’t know what to wish for and he found a lamp and the genie helped him figure out what his wish was. (I was eight y’all.) I also recall a story I wrote about the sun and the moon and how they were always trying to find each other. I have the turtle story sitting on my shelf, complete with illustrations. I wish with all my heart I still had the sun and moon story but it’s either long gone or buried in some crevice of my mother’s home. The first story I submitted as an assignment when I took a course through Institute of Children’s Literature was about a boy and his magic flying scooter. It was seriously awful, but I still like the idea of a flying scooter.

Today I have a long list of story ideas and all of them have a magical element. I can’t get away from it! It’s simply what goes on in my brain.

BUT I still feel that my writing is unique and I try to pay as little attention to trends as possible. My current book falls in a more specific sub-genre of “magical realism,” firmly set in a realistic world but with mild fantastical elements. For the sake of simplicity I just call it fantasy.

So while I really hate following trends, my post yesterday was not meant to say that one should steer clear of a genre or subject matter simply because it is a trend. You write what you have to offer. You write the ideas and characters who keep floating in your brain and refuse to go away. If it happens to be the hot thing at the moment, no big deal. There’s just more challenge to make it stand out in the crowd.

*At this point in time, my fantasy writing is not urban, edgy, romantic, paranormal, vampire, werewolf or zombie. (It is a little bit dark.) No witches, wizards, elves, angels, etc. They’ve simply never graced my imagination up to now, however I will make no promise that I will never write these things.


4 comments

    • Bobbie

    • January 19, 2010

    • 3:53 pm

    Nice to meet up with you!

    I write YA (paranormal, in my case), and like you, I didn’t want to. The first novel I wrote was for adults and was a little fantasy, a little magical realism, a little rewritten history, and a lot not ready for the public. So I rewrote it (took me almost three years to start over) and am querying it at the moment (ugh!). And along the way it somehow became YA.

    Following trends *intentionally* is where writers–and therefore readers–get into trouble. Your advice is spot on: You write the story and characters that won’t go away.

  1. I know what you are trying to say. One thing that I have learned is that I don’t have as much control over the story as I would like!

  2. Don’t you feel better now? I’m sure that any story you put your heart and mind into will be great.

    • Liesl

    • January 22, 2010

    • 10:39 pm

    Well it wasn’t a secret! But yes, I feel better. Thanks for the encouragement.

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