Why do I Write YA Fantasy?
This year has been a big year for me. I have been actively working towards completing *final* edits on my Young Adult Fantasy novel, with plans for querying it in the near future. With this, has come a new found confidence in discussing my work. Before, my novel was a sort of dirty little secret, that only a select few knew about. Now, in a way to hold myself accountable, I have been sharing my project goals with more people in my life.
I have discovered, however, that when discussing my WIP, I have frequently been met with some variation of the following questions: “why YA fantasy?”, “do you write anything other than YA fantasy?” or “what do you think you’ll write after your YA fantasy novel is done?”. I don’t know if it’s the intention, but I usually feel like the insinuation is that I should be writing something other than what I’m writing. I think this could be due to people’s perception of YA fiction, the world’s current political climate, or maybe by how opinionated I am (in my personal life) on a great number of subjects.
Let me just say, I get it. I can understand why people might think I should be using my voice to provide commentary on the world around us, or to be showcasing my unique experiences. I am a great supporter of people creating fiction inspired by their lives, and of biting memoirs, and of raw emotional poetry. I am not saying I won’t and don’t write any of the above, just that there’s a reason why I love working on what I’m currently working on.
While I have never written exclusively in a single form or genre, I have always been especially drawn to writing Young Adult fantasy novels. Depending on my mood or my muse, I have written anything from realism to science fiction, in the forms of flash fiction to poetry. In the end, however, I always come back to the YA fantasy novel. I mean come on, I grew up on J.K. Rowling and Eva Ibbotson, and in my teens, well, I read far too many authors to list. In the end, I always loved the idea of stretching the mind to imagine things outside of our own experiences—the idea of thinking what if?
I started writing longer works of fiction in my early teens, and I used that the same way I had always used reading: as a form of escapism. My childhood was by no means horrible. I had a supportive, loving family, and great friends, but I was definitely insecure and at many times, felt irrationally hard-done by. I also had a touch of what I now realize was an existential crisis, something I think a lot of adults don’t often think teens have the capacity for. Nevertheless, there I was. A teenager dissatisfied with the day-in-and-day-outs of high school, wanting to believe there was something more, but also feeling extremely small, alone, and purposeless in the grand scheme of the universe.
To help alleviate the constant questioning of life and its mediocrity, I usually sought out YA fantasy stories. I loved when the unimaginable was brought to light. Take Gemma in the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Clary in the Shadow Hunter series, or Aislinn in Wicked Lovely, or even Harry Potter, for that matter. All “normal” young people that were exposed to the “truths” of the world. The theme that never failed to draw me in, was that there was magic and wonder beneath the facade of every day life–that there was more to life as we knew it.
This is why I write YA fantasy. It allows me to create new worlds beneath our own, and live vicariously through them. It helped me as a teen, and hopefully one day I can provide that same form of escapism for another YA reader. While yes, being an adult has it’s struggles, being a teenager is a special kind of tough.
Title photo @ CreateHer Stock