Monday, February 13, 2012

A question about YA novles

But first, this. I heard from some of you yesterday after my cryptic post. Thank you so much for your kindness. Normally I try not to post when I'm feeling in extremis--except, of course, when I'm pissy, because pissiness ALWAYS=awesome posts--but wow. I just kind of bottomed out over a few issues this weekend.

Feeling much better today, much more hopeful. So please don't worry.

And now onto my question. I am working on a YA set during the 70's. But a friend of mine this weekend, whose opinion I really trust, wonders if YA readers will actually be drawn to that. She wonders if the story should somehow be made contemporary.

I'd appreciate your feedback. Thanks. And also than you again.


Emily said...

Dear Ann,
If anyone can make it work, you can. When you wrote this, I recalled a YA book I read recently that was set in the seventies. Maybe you've heard of it, FEATHERS by Jacqueline Woodson.

It was a beautiful book an I think a Newberry Honor.

So, I guess, it can be done.

Becca said...

I've found in YA (with me as reader, and also my kids as readers) that when the setting is a major character, a 'recent historical' time thing can work -- but the history aspect has to be huge. Deborah (Debra?) Wiles wrote (come on, brain, you can do it) -- something with a record on the cover that was about the Cuban Missile Crisis = awesome. (Countdown? Anyway, it was memorable to everyone, I just can't remember the title.)

James said...

Here is one man's opinion. I think the success of a 70's-setting YA novel depends on three things: (1) the strength of the story; (2) the writing; and (3)if there's vampires, werewolves, witches or zombies in it.

I don't think the 70's-setting will doom it to failure, especially if the themes and characters are relateable. On the surface, this man shouldn't care about a little girl in Nazi Germany who steals books. Somehow, I related to her, and cared about her. You can make that happen for someone from the 70's kids...bad clothes and all.

Michemily said...

I agree that the 70s thing can work if it's really strong and important to the story. Otherwise YA readers will just think it's an old book.

Louise Plummer said...

You might ask an editor. Is it set in the seventies for a specific reason or for your own private reason?

SWILUA said...

Hey Ann!

My dissertation research found that genres like "historical fiction" didn't do as well as other genres. But this was mainly due to a teen dislike of anything akin to the "lesson book."

But, data also showed:

The number one thing you need in YA: emotion.

The number two: a story a teen can see *themselves* in.

I know I've seen myself in all kinds of books from all kinds of times. Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, I loved those when I was younger and still do. (Though it's never the same when you read as an adult, is it?)

So if you're in the 70's, that could be totally fine. You need to avoid any resemblance to the "lesson" book, or any stereotypes of the "historical fiction" book. But if you have emotion on every page? If a teen reader can relate? See themselves in the story? Well, that's basically all you need.

Also, you'll rock it because you're you. xo

Anne said...

It's all there actually:
Dazed and Confused;
Almost Famous; and of course,
Ashton Kutcher. Add in some polyester shirts, Candie's high heels, and bell bottoms and bob's your uncle. Kidding; I don't even remember the 70's.