Why I Love Writing YA Fiction- My Top Five
By Christina Hagmann
As the author of Stratagem, a young adult fantasy/mystery novel, and two upcoming young adult fantasy novels, The Brothers Finn and Touch, many people ask why I write for young adult rather than to the adult audience. I’m sure there are many reasons authors write ya, but here are my top five reasons.
1. I love reading ya fiction.
I know plenty of adults who refuse to read young adult fiction because they aren’t young adults. Here is where I fully embrace my inner Peter Pan. I don’t want to grow up. I want to remember those first-time feelings of love, fear, sadness, and insecurity. As an adult, I feel these things but as a reader of young adult fiction; it helps me to remember how it felt in the beginning, when I was younger and everything felt so huge. When my parents got in a fight and I was sure they were heading for divorce, because I didn’t realize that sometimes a fight is just a fight and not the beginning of the end. I remember reading Bridge to Terabithia and feeling Jess’s grief and denial at the loss of his friend. That was the first time I ever cried reading a book, but it wouldn’t be the last. When you connect with a character, you internalize their feelings. You empathize with them rather than sympathize, but only if you read it as the intended reader. When I read ya fiction, I suspend my sometimes cynical adult view of the world and remember how it felt to fall in love, have a first kiss, or have a fallout with a friend. As a bonus, my love for ya fiction helps me to revisit my youth and stay connected to my audience as a writer. Which leads me to my next reason I love writing YA Fiction.
2. I love discovery and taking a character through a learning experience.
Not only does reading about those first-time feelings help me stay connected to my inner young adult, but writing about it helps me remember and have new experiences. It helps me think about the world from a different perspective. When I’m writing, I immerse myself in my characters. If I’m writing from the perspective of a teenage boy who likes practical jokes, I warn my friends and family that I might seem immature in the upcoming months. They like to remind me that I’m always immature, but I find that playing the role helps me stay fresh and feel that giddy excitement of discovery. It helps me experience the world in a different way and stay excited. Speaking of that, my number 3 reason I love writing ya fiction is just that.
3. I love the giddy excitement of young adults.
Adults can be boring. I know. I am one. After a long week, one of my favorite things to do is sit on the couch and relax. I think it’s okay to admit that I can be boring, but I’ve already had four decades of life experience. As an adult, I know I can be numb to some of the giddiness that runs rampant in young adults. Young adults like the excitement they feel through new experiences and interactions with friends. It’s the action they seek and I love that. It gets me excited all over again. Speaking of action, check out my number 4.
4. I love the fast-paced flow of ya narrative.
Today’s attention spans are very limited, and I’m not just talking about in young adults. People don’t even read books in the bathroom anymore. Instead, when there are a few minutes, a majority of us pick up our phones. I know my readers, and I know that I have to keep things moving quickly otherwise I will lose them. This fits well with my style. I’ve never been an overly descriptive writer. I’m a straightforward person and I think that shows in my writing. My style is better suited to the fast pace of the ya narrative. It’s also why I like mystery and suspense. I like twists and turns and shocking the reader so that they have to keep reading. This leads me to the final reason I love writing ya fiction.
5. I love the idea of being the writer who turned a young adult into a reader.
Sometimes all it takes is one book to be hooked on reading. I’m a well-known book pusher. When I find a book I love, I’ll try to get anyone to read it, even complete strangers. When the Hunger Games came out, I recommended it to any student I could. Years later, a former student told me that I was his favorite teacher because I introduced him to the Hunger Games. It was that easy. That’s why, as an author, one of my biggest draws to writing for young adults is catching and keeping the reader’s attention so that they rush to see how the book ends. It’s the idea that one of my books could be the one that turns a single young adult into a lifetime reader. And that’s why I love writing for young adults.
Visit my website, www.ChristinaHagmann.com, for more about my books.
Christina Hagmann is the author of the young adult novel, Stratagem, and the upcoming young adult fantasy novels, The Brothers Finn and Touch. When not writing short stories or novels, Christina can be found spending time with her family, teaching readers and writers, coaching various sports and going to Brewers games. She is also a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.