Today on Paws 4 Thought I present a guest post by a local St. Louis author L.J. Launer. He talks about his love for young adult literature and why he writes it.
People often ask me why I write young adult fiction. I read many books in a variety of genres. Some of my favorite reads have included Jonathan Franzen’s The Twenty-Seventh City (which is set in my hometown of St. Louis), mysteries by Dee Henderson, Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series, and many Gregory MacDonald’s Fletch mysteries. But always I return to young adult literature…YA has something intriguing that draws me to the genre.
I think part of it is that the characters are just taking their first steps into the adult world. They are discovering its challenges. Do they join the rat race? Or do they try to make the world a better place to live in?
But why high school, you ask? I answer, why not high school? Most young adults who are in high school today are both interesting and intelligent. They even fool many adults. But don’t make all YA characters totally anti-establishment. Because that isn’t real. It isn’t that way even if you are writing YA science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, or the “superhero” literature that has started to take hold in recent years.
My first inspiration with young adult came when I was in the middle of plotting my first novel, but not my first published novel. It was 1986 and I was creating a chapter outline for a novel that is still a work-in-progress. In March of that year, I went to the movies with a friend of mine. We saw a movie called LUCAS, which was set mainly in a high school and the characters were primarily high school students with a few adults along the way. It was essentially a young adult movie. It inspired me to refocus the novel I was working on into a young adult novel.
It took me 29 years to publish my first novel, Rurals and Townies. Many of my writer friends over the years told me I was beating a dead horse. But I stuck to it and today, that one novel has become my Blanchette High School series.
In order to do any writing and be good at it, you have read. Read everything from the classics, like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn or the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read contemporaries such as John Green, who is the current superstar of YA. Also check out another great YA writer, Tom Tharp, who wrote The Spectacular Now.
Several of my friends have published YA. And what amazes me is how many adults read popular YA series like The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Young adult is alive and well. I appreciate the genre and I continue to enjoy writing it.