Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I see a great deal of discussion about Young Adult literature nowadays. The fan base for this genre appears to be larger than ever. I'm not sure if teens are doing the majority of reading and talking about it though. They're not the ones I see discussing it on Twitter and elsewhere in the World Wide Web. I assume teens continue to be the target audience for YA lit, but they certainly are not alone in appreciating it. This observation along with the following tweet gave me pause for thought which I proceeded to document.

RT @JustineLavaworm I am critical of how near monolithically white & straight & middle class (if not upper class) YA is.

My debut novel Patches of Grey focuses largely on the lives of teens but I can't say it quite qualifies as YA. Had I known how big the genre would blow up…

I probably wouldn't have changed a thing. As a teen I read books intended for adults. As a writer I write for adults, including mature teens.

To date I haven't made any of my characters vampires or zombies or wizards. I don't rule anything out for the future but I doubt you'll ever spot me on that crowded bandwagon.

I didn't think about the sparsity of teen/young characters of color in fiction when I sat down to compose Patches of Grey. I wrote about such people because that's what I knew, not to fill a void.

Perhaps in the future I'll write more strategically because that's good for the wallet & I now have a family/mortgage/other grown stuff.

Then again, I may always say "F it" and write what's in my heart/gut/mind. If it turns out to be trendy, great! If not, so be it. Usually if you write what you need to say, and do it well, you'll find people it seems to have been written specifically for.

Some write for an audience, others write for themselves. I write for myself, & I happen to be an avid reader, so I end up writing for unknown readers as well.

When I'm done editing my second novel I plan to move on to a series of kid books. Not sure how naturally it will come to me but will give best shot.

With the planned children’s books I'm well aware in advance that there is an under-served POC market out there to be tapped. I'll write for my daughter. If she can inspire me to be a better person surely she can also inspire me to be a better writer.

So long as you write about issues & for people that are important to you, your work will have integrity. That's a major goal for me.

If you've ever read my prose you've read about subjects I am legitimately interested in, not something scribbled for a quick buck or web hits.

Just as my main training for writing novels was reading a ton of novels, my training for the planned kid books has been reading a whole lot of them. I read for myself because I love intelligent fiction and read to my daughter because that’s what a parent should do. The fact that reading for pleasure has also turned out to be research for my writing is primarily a happy accident.

I happen to be married to a fantastic illustrator (an example of her work is up above), which is pretty darn convenient for a first time children’s book author.

My second novel Matters of Convenience is strictly grown folk stuff. My synopsis of it is: it's a love rectangle. Quite proud of the brevity for it doesn’t come naturally to me. Love square would also work geometrically, but I think love rectangle has a better ring to it. Besides, all sides are rarely equal in love and war.

Author Spotlight Q&A

As always, Happy Reading!


  1. Excellent thoughts. It's important to write from your heart, no matter the market demand. I also wish there were more young adults reading young adult. That will always be something to work for.

  2. As a bookseller, I have to confess, it makes me uneasy that we sell the vast majority of today's new "Instant Classic" variety of YA to grown ups. Grown women, more specifically. I don't want to give in and believe the nagging thoughts in my brain that tell me this is just more reinforcement of the dumbing down* of America, and a sign of our growing, national attention deficit. But I can't help myself, some days.

    *Caveat: not that some of these works aren't worthy of reading, grown up or not. But "some" is the relevant qualifier there.