I was sorry to miss my part in the Buzz Girls’ Workshop at the Romance Writers of America in San Francisco, Building Buzz in YA. But seeing as how we are doing a round-up of those talks this week here on the blog (and a call for questions), I thought I’d chat a little about the section I was going to do: the Teen Audience.
I have three kids, between the ages of 15 and 20. But I was writing for the Young Adult market well before my kids were teens--in fact, I sold about 20 YA short stories between my own teen years and selling my first YA novel.
I believe it’s all about the ability to tap into your inner teen. Which, in addition to being a rule-setting, responsible parent, I can definitely do. Case in point:
Recently, a group of teens gathered in our front yard, some on the driveway basketball court, some on the sidelines. I went outside to join the action on the court. You see, thanks to many hours of shooting baskets with my brother when we were in high school, I am actually somewhat skilled at short-range shots.
So...we got into a game of HORSE, and I had more fun than a grown-up should be allowed. I actually won! Which I followed up with some super-embarrassing strutting, and joked that I was going to post specifics (names, scores) on my MySpace. (No one laughed but me.)
One of the bystanders, not exactly accustomed to me, asked my daughter, “What is your mom...like...in 7th grade?” And my daughter responded, with full seriousness, “We calculate her at about 9th. You see, her characters are mostly 11th and 12th, but you know how readers like to read up.” Which I am sure only confused the girl more!
When I heard about this later, I laughed out loud. And realized that yeah, on the basketball court, I had done some mental time-traveling to my teen years...made so easy for me because of all the hours I spend writing YA.
So if there is anything I’d like to share about the Teen Audience, it is this: in order to connect with the reader, you have to sound legitimate. And in order to sound legitimate, well, you have to feel it. It’s not about hanging with teens (although of course, it helps) as much as the ability to relate, to remember, and to report.
Embarrassing yourself is optional.
How to Hook a Hottie - Book Sense Top Teen Pick
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress - Finalist, National Reader’s Choice Award