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Why YA? Why SFF?

July 13, 2016


The other day I met, as I often do, a young writer: a sweet, earnest, talented MFA student.  He asked what "literary fiction" writers often do, why I write science fiction and fantasy, why I write for young people.


There's no one answer.  The simplest is that I write what I like to read.  (I met a quite famous middle grade author who told me he rarely read middle grade -- and it just boggled my mind.)  


But though a big part of me writes for myself, I do love my young audience.   Teenagers and kids are great. They are figuring themselves out, which is something I'm still trying to do, and so I find them inspiring.  They are so real, so big hearted, and those hearts are so much on their sleeves.  Their emotions are big.  Adults -- forgetful ones -- sometimes see this as drama, which implies it's false.  It's not.  It is entirely real.   For teenagers, something like prom can be life and death.  


And so I turn to stories.  Think of Cinderella:  is that not prom as life and death?  Through fairytales, and fantasy, and science fiction, you can put say "hey, this is life and death," in a way that is emotionally honest.  It is exaggerated, dramatically, from the day-to-day life of most Barnes and Noble shoppers.  But it is emotionally honest. To me that is more important.


Plus when my narrative gets stuck I can always throw in a dragon.  





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