Why YA? Why SFF?

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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