Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Laura's Crystal Ball: The Future of YA

Our theme this week is 'The Future of YA' and I have to admit, I was dreading writing this post. It's not that I don't have amy opinions on the subject, because I do. It's that too often people ask this question because they are eager to write to the trends, and that, my friend, is the wrong thing to do. Not only because by the time you write to what is hot, it just isn't hot anymore, but  more so because if you aren't writing what you're passionate about, then what you're writing won't be passionate either.

When I was first working on BLIND SPOT, I had a critique with an editor who told me to take all the supernatural elements out of the book because it wasn't working with the plot -- and then she made the comment that "no one really wants to read that stuff anymore". While her instincts were dead on about my plot (it is so much better without the supernatural aspect in it) I often chuckle about her comment because by the time my book finally got picked up for publication, that 'stuff' had actually become hot!

In fact, when I first got serious about getting published and I began attending writing conferences, I was always one of maybe two or three writers writing YA. Everyone else was writing picture books. But I never once thought I should abandon my novels for PBs. Now it seems the oppposite is true -- everyone I meet at conferences writes YA and very few write picture books. I know a lot of picture book writers however and they haven't stopped simply because the market has slowed.

My point is this: write what works for you -- write what you love. Don't write what someone, somewhere has said is the upcoming trend.

Now that I have said that. . . The future of YA? Okay, okay. I 'll dive in -- 

I think there will be a trending towards more contemporary espionage-thriller-mystery-type novels and a slowing of the lycanthropic-type novels that are on the market now -- with the exception of paranormal-esque mysteries. I think gothics may be on the rise.

I also think middle grade is really going to explode soon, so the books that are MG/YA crossovers will be big -- books that have a lot of action and adventure and personality, books with complex plots that the advanced MG reader wants, but with a lot less edge and sexuality.

That's my two cents. Spend it wisely!


What if a classmate went missing right after you fought with her at a party and she was later found dead? What if you couldn't remember anything after that fight? Not even how you got home? Would you tell the police the truth? Or would you lie about what you remember until you could find out what really happened that night?

16-year-old Roswell Hart finds herself in this very predicament in Laura Ellen's YA thriller, BLIND SPOT (October 23, 2012, Harcourt Children's Books)


  1. Great points, Laura, especially about MG/YA crossovers - there has to be a bridge there for the advanced middle grade reader who just isn't ready or interested in a romantic aspect. And there can never be too many books for middle grade boys, especially for those who are reluctant readers.

  2. Ooooh, I'm hoping for more gothics! And I like the idea of YA spy thrillers; I think we tend to see what's big in adult lit trickle down to YA after a few years, but it gets reconstituted so it still feels fresh. Can't wait to see where the industry goes!

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