Monday, February 16, 2015

The Evolution of Fiction



(Unfortunately, this will be my last blog post for Romance Magicians. Priorities have forced me to curtail some of my current commitments, and although I’m sad to go, I plan to stop by periodically for comments.)

Fiction categories and genres have changed so drastically over the years that I often wonder if I have a finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not. In fact, I nearly missed my chance to write the category I now believe I was meant to write.

When I was a teen, the spiciest young adult novel I could find in the school library was Forever by Judy Blume. Even by today’s standards, this book is a bit racy. But many teen girls, including myself, found this book a breath of fresh air. The author spared us the usual sugar-coating of first love, and at the time I read the book, I desperately needed this candid point of view. And because Judy Blume is … well, Judy Blume, she was allowed to publish Forever, despite many parents wanting it pulled from the shelves. I looked for more books that would be as truthful but could only find more sugar and spice and everything nice. I gave up on trying to relate to teen books and immediately turned to adult books.

I started writing adult romance when I was twenty and continued to do so until I hit burnout some twenty years later. For whatever reason, I’d hit a wall and no longer enjoyed writing. I was about to quit when a fellow writer and friend suggested I try my hand at writing young adult. I laughed and promptly explained how no teen could relate to my dark sarcasm and direct, sometimes gritty writing. Me? Writing a teen novel? No way.

Her reply? “You’ll be perfect for it.”

Apparently, things had changed a bit since I last read a teen book and she had a few suggestions to get me back into the YA frame of mind. Titles she thought I might enjoy. I was skeptical when I picked up Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols. Now don’t get me wrong. I know Jennifer Echols. She is one of the funniest people I've ever met. It’s why I chose Going Too Far as my first teen book to read.

I wasn’t a page into the book when I became hooked. The protagonist was sarcastic, hilarious and she had blue hair. Blue hair! There was underage drinking, mischief, and the topic of sex wasn’t something glossed over as if nobody thinks about it in high school. I finished the book in a day and promptly sent Jennifer a thank-you-for-such-an-awesome-book email. I then picked up another YA book and another.

I haven’t looked back and I'm having a blast writing again.

Recently, I found myself in a situation where I've had to read several adult romances again. This worried me since I haven’t read adult in a few years. How interesting to discover a few of those genres have changed and not just a little!

What changes have you noticed in the genres you read?

5 comments:

Cari Hislop said...

I'll miss reading your contributions, but (unless one has a time machine) there are only so many hours in a day). I hope you'll share when you publish more books! Your friend is right. I think you nailed the whole teen angst thing realistically with sympathy and hope. Life often does kick us into the gutter, but while we're getting up...who knows what we will find there! A dropped diamond ring? Some teen writers seem unaware that there is light at the end of the hellish tunnel!!! Good luck with your writing!!!!

These days any genre is barely more than a house of cards waiting for someone to slap it into the air. It makes sense though that there would be a shift since stories only mirror the society/culture that breeds them and though one could argue society constantly changes the changes in the last twenty years are ginormous. it's weird to think
I had more in common with my grandparents' teen years (in the late thirties) than the teens I work with have with mine (I was a teen in the 80's). Expectations, perspectives, values have changed. It makes sense that we would all need the categorisation of our stories to change too.

Callie James said...

Well said, Cari! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I will post on my personal blog from time to time at calliejamesbooks.com, but yes, I am letting go of a lot of things so I can focus on finishing a YA paranormal trilogy I intend to publish Jan, Feb, and Mar of 2016. I'll definitely announce on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ when I do. :)

Cari Hislop said...

I look forward to reading it! Good luck with the busy writing year!!! :)

Jillian said...

Can't wait to read the new works. Good luck!

Callie James said...

Thanks, Cari! Thanks, Jillian!