Friday, May 3, 2013

New Trends in YA

Jordan Dane

I will be speaking at the OWFI Writer’s Conference this week in Norman, OK. Since I used to live in OK, I am really looking forward to seeing old friends. Here is the conference LINK.

I will give a workshop on “Writing for the YA Market” on Friday afternoon and will sit on a YA panel on Saturday morning. For my post today, I thought I’d share a brief aspect of my YA workshop – the trend toward YA Mash-ups.

The mash-up is the new black in YA. Speculative fiction is finding a new popularity. Repulsive and strange are in vogue. If the storyline has a high concept Sci-fi plot, it is usually paired with a strong romance angle to keep the story and characters relatable to young readers. In a recent Publishers Weekly article, I found a feature on upcoming YA Mash-ups that I found intriguing. I thought you might, too. Think genetic mutation with a romantic interest—and character hooks are important in these stories. 

Below are some examples of upcoming YA Mash-Ups:

Transparent is a March 2013 book from HarperTeen release from newcomer Natalie Whipple, is set in a world where everyone is born with a special power or mutation. The protagonist, Fiona, has a father who uses his special ability—mind control—for evil purposes; her signature trait is invisibility. The character hook is important. This is a story about a girl who has spent her whole life not knowing what she looks like, who finally meets a boy whose special power is that he can see invisible things. The romance is an indispensable part of the story.

 Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant follows a girl’s recovery after her leg is severed in an accident and then reattached with astonishing ease in the biopharmaceutical lab run by her mother. Eve (short for Evening) gets a project to keep her busy while she heals—create the perfect male—and an easy-on-the-eyes orderly is a foil. Imagine trying to design the perfect boy, but be attracted to a real guy who isn’t perfect. Who would she choose—perfection or a real boy with all his imperfections?
  Jessica Khoury's debut - ORIGIN (Razorbill) mines a similar vein: a “perfect” girl, Pia, has been created in a secret compound in the Amazon protected by an electric fence. She’s largely content to do the bidding of the scientists, who used advanced genetic engineering to make her invulnerable to illness and disease—until a storm rips a hole in the fence and she steps through it to meet a hunky indigenous boy. Suddenly Pia is second-guessing the curious circumstances under which she’s been raised.
  Above by Leah Bobet (Scholastic) - In an underground community, a collection of societal outcasts have created a haven for themselves they’ve named Safe. The residents are broken or sick, self-styled freaks. The narrator, Matthew, was born to a father who had lion’s feet and a mother with gills. Another denizen, Ariel, transforms into a bee when stressed. Their refuge is threatened when the only person they’ve ever forcibly exiled returns, bent on revenge.
  I also wanted to bring to your attention that established publishers are launching new YA imprints:

Soho Press (Literary fiction & mysteries since 1986) has started Soho Teen

  Angry Robot (Sci-fi/Fantasy publisher since 2009) started Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint.

  Christian YA fiction is gaining momentum, particularly with social issues and real life storylines.

Another trend I wanted to post about is the "New Adult" category. This type of story targets characters between the ages of 18-25 (slightly older characters with more sex – “Harry Potter meets 50 Shades of Gray,” the NYT’s wrote) – Publishers who have launched such a category are: Simon & Schuster, NAL, HarperCollins, St Martins, & Entangled, to name a few.

Exciting trends are still coming for YA and New Adult book writers. What do you see as a coming trend in fiction?

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