Tag Archives: dark YA

The YA Protagonist’s Age: You’re 17? Me, too!

15 May

The young adult genre is normally defined by coming-of-age stories, where the protagonists are often between the ages of 14 and 18. That being said, if you are publishing a YA story right now, chances are your protagonist is 17 years old.

So why are most YA protagonists 17?

Short Answer: The protagonist is old enough to be on the cusp of adulthood but young enough to still be considered a young adult.

Long Answer: Adding to the short answer above, 17 years old is also highly regarded because the target audience reading YA right now is not necessarily teenagers. In fact, most studies indicate that the main audience buying YA is 18-27. (Many teenagers are more focused on fan fiction online—another topic for another day.) But focusing on the older aspects of teenage years is currently more sellable than the younger teenage years of 14-16.

Basically, 17 years old seems to be the sweet spot in YA right now, especially for crossover YA, but I would love to see more variety.

In fact, I find it incredibly uncomfortable how much we are focusing on the age of 17. It’s almost as if every teenager on the planet will have a revelation in that year of their life…and that’s highly unrealistic.

Teenagers do not go through the same issues at the same time. Not everyone falls in love for the first time at 17. Heck, I’m pretty sure half my class was “dating” in middle school, and, yes, that “dating” included some pretty adult things. In fact, let’s talk about that.

Sex is being introduced to YA on a more often, regular basis. (And that’s another debate.) But I think this addition is one of the main factors behind the focus on aging up protagonists. The average reader might feel okay reading about a 17-year-old, who is practically “free” of childhood, but a 14-year-old might cause different reactions. But people face different issues at all ages. Let’s take historical fiction as an example. The average age of a Civil War soldier might have been 26, but boys as young as 12 served as drummers. You’re now talking middle grade fiction, let alone young adult. I think it’s especially okay to give younger protagonists bigger roles in YA historical, but 17-year-olds still take the center stage, and while I understand the marketing aspect, I wish we could get over it.

I went against the grain when I featured a 14-year-old protagonist in my latest YA series, because I think variety is important.

In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say one of the reasons young readers (actual teenagers) are reading less YA and focusing on Harry Styles fanfiction on Wattpad is because of how much YA is currently being marketed for older audiences. Ally Carter, author of the Embassy Row series, recently talked on Twitter about how “sweet” young adult fiction is all but missing from the main market. Darker, older, edgier materials are hot, and while that’s awesome for readers like me who enjoy those books, many teens are feeling left out of their own genre…and that’s not okay.

When I was young, I grew up with Cammie in the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter. Her character aged over a few years, and I loved it. The series starts off quick and short and sweet, and as Cammie grows, the content gets darker, more mature, and complicated. In fact, there were a lot of series like that when I was younger, and I LIVED for them. (Hello, Harry Potter.) When I’m at book signings and teenagers tell me how they struggle to “relate” to YA anymore, I feel for them. I truly do.

Teenagers deserve younger and older protagonists—all going through a variety of topics and struggles. They deserve to feel welcome in their own age bracket.

I lost my mom at 11. I moved for my seventh time when I was 12. I had a stepfamily when I was 13. I started high school and my first long relationship at 14. I got in my first car wreck at 15. Heck, I got my license at 15, because, Kansas. (Farmer’s permits—driving by yourself to work and school—were pretty common.) I started my first job at 16. I published my first book at 16! I graduated high school at 17. I turned 18 one month before I moved out and went to college. And sex? I was 19. All of these topics are seen in YA…but they’re mainly assigned to 17-year-olds. Why?

Not everyone has their first “coming-of-age/independent” moment at the same time.

So why are all of our protagonists the same age?

~SAT

#WW Publishing A Political YA Book During An Election

13 Jul

My upcoming release features an election. Even more startling, there are eerie similarities to what is happening in my sci-fi dystopian novel and what is happening today…despite the fact that the original released almost a decade ago.

There’s a wall that separates cities, there are debates about the economic crisis and the impacts it has on various classes, and there are people fighting for rights they’ve been denied for too long.

There is pain and talk and laughter, but most of all, there is hope. And all of these emotions come down to a single moment at the end of November—our election month and the very month the entire Bad Bloods books take place in.

Recent Book Teaser

Recent Book Teaser

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

Writing a YA novel where a single election affects the lives (or the deaths) of a group of young people has been important to me since the first day I started writing it. As many people know, Bad Bloods was originally published in 2007 when I was only 16, and despite the dark nature of the story, I was only 11 when I began planning it. Why would I start writing political YA when I was so young? Because political decisions affect the young, and the young have little to no say about it. To me, I choose to focus on children, because children are the most affected, least able to change it, and hold the hope for our future. And sadly, a world where children are discriminated against, held back, and/or killed is not only found in science fiction. It’s found in our very real world, all around us.

Despite the similarities in Bad Bloods and in today’s upcoming election, my hope is that readers will still read Bad Bloods as Bad Bloods, and not as a social-political commentary on the current state. Strange, I know, but I didn’t write this book with Trump and Hillary and the current state of the world in mind. I wrote this book to show the pain of genocide, of discrimination against the innocent, and of what can happen to our youth when we don’t keep our future in mind.

Such a topic shouldn’t be limited to one year, one election, or one event.

It should be discussed until it is changed, and it should be changed until we don’t have to debate these issues anymore.

Maybe, one day, that will happen, and 11-year-old girls won’t feel the need to write books about politics in order to understand how a world could be more interested in having debates than by helping the real lives affected by it.

Maybe, one day, 11-year-old girls will only write fairy tales, but I’m proud that I wrote about politics at a young age.

We should remind ourselves that kids are powerful. Kids can like politics. Kids can read about politics. Kids can understand politics. Kids can debate.

Let them speak,

~SAT

Bad Bloods releases on MONDAY! 

What are readers already saying?

“Wow…I mean this as a compliment, November Snow ripped out my heart, then stepped on it…Then laughed at my dead heart on the ground. End the end, Bad Bloods: November Snow is an amazing read that I recommend to everyone.” – The Book Forums

“Filled with suspense, action, and unexpected twists, Bad Bloods is one of my favorite duologues this year. I strongly recommend this book to anyone. My heart broke in the end, but I loved every minute of this book.” – OMG Books and More Books

“This book is addicting and very fast paced. I highly recommend this amazing story.” – Black Words-White Pages

Special thanks goes out to these three bloggers for sending in reviews yesterday.

Thanks to reviews, I’ve been approved to write a sequel, too! So more Bad Bloods books are on the way.

Thank you for your support!

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

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