Who writes for young adults? The Authors Collection.

I found Swiftwater, a book I read long ago, and it got me interested again in novels for young adults.
I found Swiftwater, a book I read long ago, and it got me interested again in novels for young adults.

EVER WONDER how many books about baby boomers are written by boomers?

Dear friend, Miriam Goldberg says it’s 98.997% of them

How about young adult books?  How many of them were written by young adults?

Mrs. Goldberg again, “Less than one per cent.”

While both numbers sound credible to me, it’s hard to forget Miriam’s axiom, “Eighty-seven point nine per cent of all statistics are made up.”

FCEtier
FCEtier

Last year my wife and I were shopping at a garage sale and I purchased a book I hadn’t read since the seventh grade, Swiftwater, by Paul Annixter. Were it not for that book, I probably wouldn’t be the avid reader I am today. Another garage sale find was Mystery of the Haunted Pool, by Phyllis A. Whitney. Whitney penned a clever story with a real mystery that relied on simple logic and an interesting twist of history.

In the last few months, I’ve read and reviewed books by YA authors Martha Orlando and Blaine Coleman. Seems like I’ve read more-youth oriented books in my sixties that I did in my teens and pre-teens.

Does the YA genre depend more upon the author or the reader?

Can the same be said of other genres?

To whom should contemporary YA authors be marketing their books? My wife reports that she read both Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies when she was twelve years old. I read several Zane Grey novels when I was in my early teens. Did any of these authors intend for their works to be YA? Does it matter?

My editor/publisher, Caleb Pirtle, over at Caleb and Linda Pirtle says, “No. A good story is a good story regardless of the age of the author or the reader.”

Here are some thoughts from several authors in the YA market:

Frank Fisher considered writing in his youth but didn’t pursue it. Now, he writes for “..the young and young at heart.” His work is seldom autobiographical and he estimates that well more than half of his readers are youth.

Blaine Coleman, author of Tunnels in the Briar Patch, says that while he always wanted to be an author, he did not put pencil to paper until adulthood. He has received favorable reviews from readers under the age of thirty.

Author of The Glade Series, Martha Orlando, estimates (based on reviews and in-person sales) her books have been read more by adults than younger readers. Her writing is heavily influenced by personal experiences and is definitely autobiographical.

So who’s to say? Despite the distractions, and regardless of the age of the readers,  there seems to be a big market out there for YA lit. My concern is that today’s young people are more interested in video gaming, television, and other media than they are in reading. I hope I’m wrong.

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  • marthaorlando

    Great article, Chip! Thanks for the personal mention!

  • Caleb Pirtle

    Chip, I believe an older writer can best write Young Adult books because he or she has the ability to look back on those days with a nostalgic flair. The good and the bad of it all is magnified by memory, and that’s what makes for good drama in literature.

  • Darlene Jones

    I never read YA even when I was a YA, but recently I’ve discovered a number of “YA” books that I’ve loved. “Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen” written by a boomer who was a teacher is my favorite. The author captures the junior high age perfectly, but then he knows kids.

  • Young people still have parents, don’t they? Many young people are extremely fortunate because they have parents and grandparents these days. As long as there is a loving guiding caring person around for a child to encourage their various life experiences my confidence is it’ll probably work out for them. It also works on reverse. Thanks to my kids and grand-kids I know about Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Final Fantasy, etc. The other day, I couldn’t figure out how to do something with a controller and my granddaughter (5 years old) said: “I can show you how to do that grandma.” And she taught me! They opened a whole new world for me! “A fantastic point of view.” 🙂

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