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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Writer's Confession

I have a confession to make. There are times in each of our lives when something happens that causes us to question our values, morals, and everything that we have ever believed in. Today is one of those times for me. You should know that I read and write adult fiction. However, I have never liked the term 'adult fiction.'

And for sound, obvious reasons. After all, if you go to an Adult Bookstore, it isn't in search of literature, right? So, why must a novel be classified as 'adult,' then, and carry with it some naughty, forbidden connotation?

I'll tell you why. It is because of those damned 'young adult' novels that have flooded the market, forcing the rest of us to construct arks, in the hope of salvaging two of every "real" literary work from the rising tides (because if you're writing adult fiction, you're probably only selling two copies these days), and preserving them for future generations.

Long have I railed against the evils of young adult fiction and the ills that it has wrought upon society. In a perfect world, there would be no such category, I have proclaimed. And one day, true literature shall rise up and shed herself of the chains that have restrained her, and the chosen people (adult fiction authors) shall unleash a vengeance upon our oppressors, etc., etc.

Me...if I had an old type writer and was a slender woman from the 1950's.
So, I am happily clicking and clacking my way through my latest novel. It has become my custom to let my better half (Lorri) read my work after every chapter. She is my rock against which lesser stones are tossed, and crumble. And she is also the driving force behind every story that I have ever actually completed.

Did you say, young adult novel? This is MY novel. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
When the first chapter was finished, I handed it to Lorri. She read it, said that it was very good, and that she was intrigued. "You're writing your first young adult novel," she said with a happy smile.

"It is NOT a young adult novel," I replied.

"Sure it is," she said.

Not this kind of young adult.
Then, I thought about it and I knew that she was right. There is a part of me that wants to toss the whole thing, but ideas like this one are not easily ignored.

Yeah. Okay. They would probably read the damned thing.
So, there it is. My ugly secret has been revealed. It seems as though (most inadvertently, mind you) I am writing a novel that might, possibly, in some situations, be perceived as 'young adult.'

"Hey, literary agent man. Me write YA novel. You read me long, long time. No just query. You read full manuscript now. You likey because is young adult."
I feel so cheap and dirty, like I've sold a part of my literary soul. But it really IS a good story, honest! I swear it is. The good news is that you'll probably never get to read it anyways. Literary agents will still spam form reject the thing after all, because it isn't about zombies or vampires. At least it doesn't have any of those things (yet). At least I can still have some pride left (for now).

Author Andrew Buckley. That's right, Andrew. It's my blog and I can use whatever picture of you that I want to.
Speaking of pride, I can't click anything in G+ these days that doesn't have Andrew Buckley's book spam smeared all over it. I'm not usually big on listening to podcasts (I don't own anything with ear buds, and I'm not 100% what 'ear buds' even are), however, I listened to an interview that Andrew did with author Jack Whyte today and it was awesome. I felt like I was listening to something from BBC or NPR, except with content that was genuinely interesting for writers. I don't have any idea how he landed the interview, but it is definitiely worth the listen. Oh yeah, he's got a book with a pretty cover too...check it out!
Andrew Buckley Links:
Podcast of Jack Whyte Interview
Planet Kibi (Andrew's Site)
Andrew Buckley's Amazon Page

Marian Allen
Next, I'd like to introduce you to Marian Allen. Marian is a story teller, pure and simple. Some of her work might fall into that evil 'young adult' category, but I've read some of her writing and it is enjoyable at any age. There is a purity within her prose that reminds me of an old European fairy tale. Simple. Pure. Beautiful.

Marian Allen's Links:
Book, The Fall of Onagros on Amazon

Micha Fire. German photography, writing and rabbit enthusiast.

Micha's rabbit.
I would be remiss if I didn't say something about Micha Fire, and her bunny. Micha is a German photographer and blogger who posts pictures of this rabbit in all sorts of mundane places and situations. This European Flat Stanley, gives you a play by play of what they are doing in his own voice.

Don't ask me why. I can't even explain it. But this damn rabbit has become one of my guilty pleasures lately. He just tears my ass up. So, as long as I am making confessions today...

LINK TO MICHA FIRE'S AMAZING RABBIT BLOG: http://michafire.blogspot.com/
Micha Fire's Website: http://www.michafire.net/index.php

Thanks for reading, everyone!

P.S. I personally apologize to everyone who writes young adult fiction for everything that I have ever said (except if you write novels about vampires or zombies because that is completely different and is the literary equivalent of prostitution, unless, of course, I get a great idea in the future about zombies or vampires, because then it will be okay, what with my idea being completely original and being written for the sake of art, and not for marketability's sake).



  1. I'm no fan of YA either, but there is one novel I love that is classified as YA for reasons that escape me. It's "Briar Rose" by Jane Yolen, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that sets it in the gas chambers of a concentration camp during WWII. Now that's awesome. But the YA stuff with cutting, tattoos, dating, vampires, sparkles, and stuff like that just needs to go away for awhile.

    1. There's cutting in YA novels now? Sheesh.

      Now that I think about it, some of my earlier work has young people in it and could technically be classified as YA, but since my most avid readers tend to be octogenarians (apparently oblivious to typos, God love em), I doubt if any of it would make the classification cut.

      Briar Rose sounds a bit macabre, but I might have to check it out for the sake of my GF, since she is a sponge for all things related to WWII.

      Thanks for reading and for posting, Jenni!


    2. UPDATE: Oh, Jenni...A VAMPIRE IN VERSAILLES? Say it ain't so.

  2. You could do a book about zombies eating the young adults. No one would object to that.

    And I thought the confessional was a private sanctuary, just between me and the pervert on the other side of the screen. Where did you get that picture of me telling him about you know what? Yeah, I wore dorky short sleeved shirts then--and now. Wanna make something of it?

    1. Tim, as the parent of more than one young adult, you're right. No one would object (with the possible exception of the young adults, I suppose, but nobody really listens to them anyways).

      No comment on the "pervert" comment either. I am still under suspicion of crimes against the church for my first local historical novella, THE GHOSTS OF MELROSE. BUT...yours remains a funny comment (you know, to some people).

  3. Thanks for the wonderful shout-out, Buzz! You're the tops!

    Oh, and I love YA. The best is terrific and brilliant. A lot of just plain adult fiction gets classified as YA just because it doesn't have sex in it. Those darn kitten-hating kitten haters!

    Marian Allen

    1. My work should probably be called OA (old adult) then, because a lot of my readers make Doc Hurley look young.

    2. You think us old folks don't hear everything. But we do. And it hurts our feelings.

  4. Being a young adult and therefore the target audience of that "evil" genre, I'd just like to say a few words in defense of YA novels.

    Firstly, I can 100% understand your frustration with YA novels. Every time I walk into a bookstore and see a book with a vampire on the cover, a little part of my heart crumbles away.

    BUT, not all YA are trash. Take Yann Martel's "Life of Pi" for instance. I read that book in my high school language arts class two years ago, and if it's good enough for my school's curriculum, then the novel can't be that terrible. There are many other YA novels that are as well-written as "adult" novels. Some I'd suggest are "Life of Pi" as well as "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak.

    It is also easy to forget that books such as "Pride and Prejudice" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" technically fall into the YA category, but, then again, those novels were written years ago.

    As for the state of YA novels today, it makes me sad that books like the Twilight Saga (gag) are creating such a negative and sometimes false stereotype for the category. Yes, a lot of YA books are crap, but you'll find crappy books in all genres.

    Sorry this reply is so long, I guess I got a bit carried away. Best of luck with your novel and, just remember, write what you feel is right, and don't worry about whether its YA or adult. As long as you stay true to yourself as a writer and produce a work you are proud of, that's all that really matters :)



    1. Amelia,

      Thank you for the well thought out post. I agree with you on every point.

      Honestly, I get the same heart crumbling feeling about all of the new vampire novels in the bookstore. But even more honestly, I get that feeling, plus a little bile in my mouth, when I walk into a Wal Mart and see the Fifty Shades trilogy.

      The funny thing is that within the last forty-eight hours, my most trusted reader has said that my latest work looks like young adult novel, and my newest amazon review on an older work has said that it should be targeted at middle grade students (I think high school age would be more appropriate). Doh!

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to post.


    2. Hooray, Amelia! My only disagreement with you is on the first Twilight book. I think it had the potential to take the series to deep and meaningful places. I was MOST disappointed with reports of the series' progression; the first book was the only one I read.

      Lois Lowry's THE GIVER. Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS. There are SO many excellent books written for or suitable for young people!

      Marian Allen
      Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  5. "Literary agents will still spam form reject the thing after all, because it isn't about zombies or vampires."

    Got news for you, I received a lot of rejections for my novel, Black, before a small publisher picked me up. Even the agents that liked my writing said no because it was about vampires.

    1. Catherine,

      It's always something, isn't it? Vampires, no vampires, wasn't referred by Stephen King, etc, etc.

      If you try to anticipate what "the next big thing" will be, and what the agents will be going crazy for next spring, you'll go insane, and write crap.

      To hell with it all. Follow your heart. Write what makes you happy, and odds are greatly improved that someone else out there will be moved by it too.

      Thanks for the update, and thank you for reading.


  6. Ha, ha Buzz, you're funny. I wonder if Thomas Harris's Hannibal Rising is technically a young adult novel... the inspiring story of young adult Hannibal Lecter and his transformation from downtrodden Eastern European orphan to wraith of vengeance and serial killer? I think so!

    1. Amy,

      I don't know. If you think about it much, I'd venture that many of what we think of as American classics would be classified in the YA genre now. I really don't care for the inference that being part of a genre carries. As with the novels that are usually read as part of curriculum in high school and college, I believe that if it is a great work, it is a great work for most anyone. Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for reading.


  7. They told us confessional was a private affair between us, God, and the guy on the other side of the screen. But you obviously got a photograph of me in 1954, complete with dorky shirt and goofy white-walls haircut.

    We had a priest from Sweden. I thought that the stories I was writing then might be a sin (some might have been) so I confessed to him, "Father, I think I have sinned. I have written short stories." He sighed and answered, "YA." I think that's where they got that.

  8. I like to write stuff for adults, but I also like cussin'. I used to hang around the grade school just to learn new words to put into my short stories. Mark Twain, my all time hero (he doesn't answer my emails or comment on my blog). So when I write a story with cussin' in it, or if folks are ... you know, thinking about nasty stuff ... or doing nasty stuff, I like to put a warning label somewhere, like Rated L for language, or Adult Content, 'cause sometimes when the little old ladies and little old men at the home are having tea and reading one of my stories and get to one of the cussin' parts, they spit their tea on each other, and it's embarrassing.

  9. Buzz, if you don't like the term YA, you're really gonna hate the next big thing in lit genre, Boomer Lit or Boom Lit. Yep, us Boomers are still making a big noise and carrying signs that still say "it's all about us." Personally, I agree with you. I write what I write and let the chips fall where they may. But I don't care if someone wants to call my stuff Labrador Retriever Lit as long as they'll read it.

    1. Exactly, Doc. And I hope you're right about the whole Boom Lit category because most of my readers fall into that arena and I'm excited about the prospect of publishers and agents waking up one day and saying, "hey, we need to find some stuff for people who are beyond vampires and zombies and... puberty."