The lovely Margo Rabb (yes, I know her—all writers of YA in the US of A know each other—or at most there’s two degrees of separation) has an article in the New York Times about how writing YA is looked down upon by those who write proper Literachure for teh adults.
I must be living in a lovely cocoon. I honestly have not experienced the kind of snobbery Margo Rabb describes in the article. I suspect that’s because pretty much all the publishing people I know are YA people. Whereas most of the people quoted in the article either come out of the adult literary world or aspired to write for adults.
I never did.
So there are many things in the article I’m startled by. Like Meg Rosoff’s claim that YA gets more respect in the UK. My experience, though obviously much more limited than hers—I mean she lives there—is the opposite. I think it gets tonnes more respect here in the US. In fact, the one and only time I was asked when I was going to write a “proper grown up book” was in London.
Also I think the idea of having an adult and a young adult edition of a book (which happens a lot in the UK) screams of not respecting the YA genre. Why would you need an adult edition (which is always the exact same text but—usually—with a different cover) if you felt no shame about reading the young adult version?
Here in the US, I run into adults who read lots of YA all the time. In fact, the majority of my fan mail comes from adults. The “stigma” of being published as YA does not seem to be stopping them from reading my books. The same does not seem to be true in the UK or Australia for that matter.
In fact, the writers for teh adults I do know, here in the USA, are all hell bent on switching to YA. But none of them write Literachure, they write fantasy, science fiction and romance, and they’ve heard that the going is good in YAland. That they can write whatever genre they want—crime, realism, fantasy—and that their books will be shelved next to each other and what’s more they’ll be paid better than they are in their given genre. So off to YA they go.
I guess that’s the biggest dissonance for me reading the article. I do not write Literachure. I have never written it. I have never aspired to write it. I have only ever wanted to write historicals or fantasy or crime and I can do ALL of that while writing YA.
That’s why I’m a YA writer and plan to stay one for the rest of my career.