Today I would like to talk about why I think teenagers connect so deeply with young-adult paranormal fantasy or romance.
When I was a kid, there was nothing more magical than finding myself engrossed in a wonderful book filled with magical creatures and horror tales of demons, vampires and werewolves – back then some of these stories seemed to be awfully frightening, yet absolutely captivating.It transported me to a world where I found myself escaping from the normal mundane life of being a teenager, living a life where the friends I had closest to me being the actual people who were my bullies.
I have grown up now, and have become a much stronger person, and have worked hard at finding my self-confidence again, even though, I must admit, bullies do still exist in the “grown-up” world as well. However, during that time, I realised, that my world of books saved me – whenever I was depressed, or felt down, alone in a corner with no one to call my friend, I knew that I could go home, and I would find a host of friends within my stack of books I picked up from the travelling library, and that is where I would stay for the rest of the day.
Books were my salvation – my escape to a place where I was safe and able to live out the person I was feeling deep inside – the romantic who wished I could find my dark prince who would woo me and sweep me off my feet, ready to save me from the pain I had to endure during my day at school; or the strong female character that wouldn’t allow anyone to stand in her way and who was strong enough to stand up for herself.
When we are teens we are still trying to find out who we are. Books, especially escapism books such as fantasy and paranormal books, brings us romance and personalities in which teens can identify with.
A soft person I used to be – yes, she still exists, I must admit, but through my books and the beautifully crafted, strong characters, I have found, one thing that stood out for me – they were determined, and fought for what they wanted in life. And, even though I was a teenager who some nights cried myself to sleep, my books helped me understand that if I wanted anything in life, I must fight for it.
And that I why I feel so connected to young adult (YA) books – they speak directly to the heart of teenagers and to what they go through on a daily basis and what they long so desperately for.
And now, there’s no question about it that this market has skyrocketed and the audience for these types of books are ready to indulge themselves in anything that might transport them to another place. There simply is no steady growth with the YA market – it has already exploded.
But, with that, the readers have become more demanding, the market has become more tough and, therefore, writers are expected to know more about their target markets – if they miss the mark, they simply won’t get the YA market “on their side”.
So, the question is, what are the keys to writing a successful YA novel? It isn’t that simple, but if writers delve deep into their past, and feel what they felt when they too were YAs, then they could bring to life a world that makes sense to any teenager who picks up their books. In a way, having a tough teenage life could even have been the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer! It has formed me, and given me a greater understanding into the psyche of what teenagers feel when they are in love with a boy or a girl but the love isn’t mutual; it makes me understand how it feels to be the outcast; it makes me know just how insecure one can be about yourself – I’m not pretty, skinny, or curvy enough, or I have braces, my hair is ugly or I’m not popular enough. Having experienced these things makes a writer of YA books indispensible.
When you’re young, everything you feel is much deeper and much more intense. Song lyrics speak to you in a way a grown-up could never understand – because, face it, grown-ups don’t understand – they forget how it was to be there and feel pain, hurt and exhilaration so intensely.
Being a teenager is like electrical currents running through you at all times – nothing pleases you and everything pleases you – all at once. You find a first love and you will experience your first heartbreak, you make bad decisions and will be betrayed by those around you who you trust the most. These are all things that we all have been through, and what all teenagers go through still, today. Nothing has changed – yes, times have changed and kids have better equipment to read their books with or Playstations and PS Vita’s, but they still have to experience what we, grown-ups, had to once experience ourselves.
They have to find ways to make important decisions and deal with the consequences if their decisions were wrong. When they look around them, they all believe that they are the only ones who feel this way, but what they don’t know, is that every other teen around them have to go through the same things, and everyone will make a different decision to the tales of their own lives, which will shape who they ultimately become.
When you are a teenager, everything is utterly intense.
That, however, is why the YA paranormal romance genre is so intriguing to youngsters – it is dark and it speaks to their very core. It takes them to the place they feel inside, and it makes them be something or someone else for the 300 or more pages the book in hand is – a world of escapism.
And that is what YA paranormal romance / fantasy is about – it is dark, broody, mysterious and… intense – just like teenagers.
Leandi Cameron is a journalist, author and editor who simply loves to help others write awesome books and articles. She also love to give some ideas and resources on the writing and editing industry. Let her help you!