Okay, I get that the teen years are turbulent , emotional times, and that many teen girls are drawn to drama. I am embarrassed to admit that I, myself was that way as a teen. I even wrote ultra melodramatic (and bad) poetry that I unfortunately shared with a few of my boyfriends. Which is why I always tell budding writers to ABSOLUTELY NOT share your ultra melodramatic and bad poetry with your boyfriends (especially if it rhymes, or sort of rhymes . . . well, you know, assuming that you ignore a few syllable accents here and there).
Because if you actually ever do become a writer you will always be worried that should you get really famous your bad poetry will show up on ebay.
It just isn’t a situation you want to put yourself in.
But even when I was a melodramatic teenager often drowning in self pity and cynicism, I still liked to read cheerful books most of the time. I devoured romances and loved comedies. I did read Go Ask Alice, (Everyone read that book.) and probably a few other edgier books, but truly, if they had all been that way, I would have stopped reading after about the fifth book and never picked up another novel.
Which is why it worries me that all of the non-fantasy YA books I’ve read recently are excessively turbulent, dark, and angsty. I’ve read book after book and not only is the reading material depressing, I’m wondering if all teenagers have awful, horrible lives. Oh and as a corollary, I’ve also learned that guys are basically evil and untrustworthy. Girls aren’t much better—at least not if they are pretty.
I’ve compiled a list of situations that I’ve found in the last oh, about ten high selling YA contemporary books that I’ve read. You may set this to the tune: The Twelve Days of Christmas. (But I will not make you go through all twelve verses.)
On twelfth day of reading, I found in YA literature:
Ten cheating boyfriends/fathers
Five betraying friends
Four drug users
Three fatal car crashes
Three alcoholic, neglectful mothers
Two abusive boyfriends
Two overbearing violent fathers
Two date rapes
Two undeserved slutty reputations
One unplanned pregnancy
And a suicide.
And mind you, this is the stuff that sells well. Probably better than my books. Which makes me wonder if I’m in completely the wrong genre. Maybe teenage girls just don’t want to read romantic comedies any more. Maybe kids who don’t want angst and edginess stopped reading long ago. Maybe they all just switched to other genres.
Fantasy readers still seem to like happy books. And yes I know there are dark and edgy fantasy novels too, but I imagine if you picked up ten random well selling fantasies they wouldn’t all be that way.
So yeah, I’m definitely thinking about making a full time jump to fantasy. My Fair Godmother was a super fun book to write and it’s already getting great reviews. I think I could be happy doing fantasy.