Thursday, June 24, 2010

How dark can we go with young adult fiction?

I met with an editor recently and mentioned I have some violence in my YA manuscript. I asked if that's a problem, and she said, "Not at all." When I first tried breaking into fiction for adults, violence was an were love triangles and non-Hollywood endings. The freedom to be edgy and dark and imaginative is exhilarating.

I've read modern YA, and it's clear teens are eating up books that aren't sugar coated. Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series has topped the bestseller lists with a plot that concerns a dystopian reality show in which kids hunt each other to the death. Harry Potter has a staggering body count by the seventh book, and the ending of Markus Zusak's YA bestseller, The Book Thief, is both violent and emotionally intense. I have no idea why I even asked that editor about the darkness of my own novel. Perhaps I'm worried the rules will suddenly change and YA authors will have to treat readers as delicately as the supposed audience of women's books.

My current favorite YA book cover is the one for Brenna Yovanoff's upcoming novel, The Replacement (see above).  On my Suburban Vampire blog I've mentioned how YA fiction gets the best covers, and this one's no exception.  Artistic.  Intriguing.  Deliciously dark.  Can you imagine a cover with scissors and knives dangling over a baby's pram showing up in the aisles of women's fiction?  That would be a no-no. . . yet so many grown women read YA fiction.  I'm guessing I'm not the only adult female who flinches at candy-colored covers and the gentle happily-ever-after tales we're told women want.  Grown-ups gobble up YA fiction alongside teens because YA writers are allowed more freedom with their tales.  Imaginations can soar.  I love that I discovered the pleasure of writing YA; I can let my mind be as creative as it wants to be.  That's why I fell in love with writing in the first place.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Welcome to the debut of my new website. I'll start with a short introduction.

I was born and raised in Southern California suburbia and fell in love with reading, writing, and movies in childhood.  When I was around seven years old, I found a book about "real" ghosts in my school library and was both terrified and mesmerized by the idea that ghosts might actually exist.  From that point forward, I was hooked on haunting tales.

I grew up and became a writer and editor, and I'm now working on Blackbirds, a young adult gothic historical novel that's a blend of ghost story, mystery, fantasy, horror, love story, and coming-of-age tale, with a touch of steampunk. My goal is to deliver the manuscript to my agent in early 2011.  I invite you to follow along to receive the latest news about the novel's journey into print.