This past weekend my sister was visiting here.Â I was deeply engrossed in The Hunger Games, and I remarked that one of the wonderful things about YA is that the writers have so much freedom with their premises.Â There is not a lot of justifying in YA, there are just wild ideas, thrilling stories, and an audience that is willing to suspend almost any amount of disbelief.Â I don’t mean this as a jab in the slightest; there should be one genre as freeing as this.
There also are not a ton of restrictions on acceptable subjects for YA.Â Sex and violence are indeed up for grabs.Â I was thinking at first that this was a relatively new development reflecting changing attitudes toward innocence â€” until I remembered the stuff I used to read as a teen, such as The Grounding of Group 6, a surprisingly delightful book about teens who survive a murder attempt by their own parents.
I wondered what it would be like to work on a YA novel myself.Â “Ok,” said Kate, “let’s think of a super wild premise for you.”
“Well, if we were going to do this in a disciplined, Boot Camp sort of way, we would come up with five premises,” I said.Â “And then pick the best one.”
And that is what we spent the rest of the day doing.Â Idea #1 was ok.Â Idea #2 was great.Â Idea #3 was freakin’ awesome.Â Idea #4 was back to ok again.Â And Idea #5… ah, Idea #5.Â It was completely epic, and it quickly spawned ideas for an entire series.
So now, I am a bit confused.Â I have been working on a sequel to the novel I’m currently shopping, but in the wake of Boot Camp I’m more excited about the idea of turning out something new, something I can use whether or not The Big Life sells.Â I have several good YA ideas, enough that I don’t know which I like best.Â I also have two pretty great mystery ideas.
I am not quite sure how to tackle this decision.Â Practically, by sticking with mystery, the genre I love best?Â Cynically, by jumping to YA, a hugely marketable genre that I believe I could love?Â Or emotionally, by laying out these stories and trying to figure out which one pulls most at my heart?
I don’t know.Â I do know this is a wonderful problem to have.