Today's post will serve double duty in two campaigns, the I Love Dark YA Blogfest and The Insecure Writer's Support Group.
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGNS-
The I Love Dark YA Blogfest is sponsored by Kelley York, Heather McCorkle, Christa Desir, and E.R. King at http://yatopia.blogspot.com/
The theme for WEEK ONE...
November 2nd: Blog about your favorite dark YA book(s).
The Insecure Writer's Support Group: Alex Cavanaugh at http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com started a support group for writers to encourage each other once a month. How does it work? The first Wednesday of every month is the official posting date. On this post, you talk about your insecurities, doubts, and fears. You encourage others from the group by visiting their blogs.
First, I'd like to talk about some great YA books I've read. I pondered for a while on the meaning of "dark YA" and finally decided and I would be liberal with the definition. I'm not going to debate the merit of dark YA in this post. I obviously support dark YA and think that the fuss over this "label" has been unjustified. Readers have loved dark themes in young adult (and children's) fiction for a long time.
I recently finished reading all three books in Maggie Stiefvater's trilogy called The Wolves of Mercy Falls. Are they dark? **SPOILER ALERT** In these books, parents are less than ideal. The main girl character ends up in love with a boy who periodically turns into a wolf. The boy's parents tried to murder him when he was a child. Another male character wishes for a way out and opts for being a wolf as opposed to suicide. A female character accidentally kills her brother. Other characters die. So, yeah. I guess that's pretty dark stuff. The third book in the series, Forever, was my favorite. In this book, you see characters mature, redeem themselves, and even act admirably. And there is the LOVE factor. I would say that all the dark YA books I've read have some romance to go along with the adventure. The teens are great in this book because they learn to care about each other and themselves. They have goals and aspirations. I'm also a big fan of sarcastic humor, and there's plenty in this book.
Although I really loved the last book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, it wasn't my absolute favorite read this year. My favorite dark YA read would be a tie between two books by the same author. Delirium and Before I Fall, both by Lauren Oliver, are books that I will read a second time. They are very different -- one is contemporary and the other dystopian. There is no debate that they fit into the the dark YA category. I'll be blogging on another Wednesday this month about each book. This year, I've also read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and enjoyed those. You might say that they enticed me to begin reading books about dystopian societies. What can be darker than a world with government gone awry?
I'm currently reading Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. I'm enjoying this futuristic tale. I only now realized that I'd include it in dark YA since there is boy on the run from his drug-addicted, abusive father and a life of severe hardships. I didn't care for the main character, Nailer, at the beginning of this book. Now I'm near the end, and I want the best possible outcome for Nailer. Somewhere along the line, I became invested. I'm not sure how and where that happened. The author lured me in subtly.
After reading all these great YA books this year, it leaves me feeling sort of....inadequate. So as double duty for The Insecure Writers Support Group post, I'll confess my greatest writer's fear at this time. My fear used to be that I wouldn't finish writing a book. Then it changed to a fear of not ever getting published. Now? Now, I'm afraid that I'll never be satisfied with the work I've done. I've published my first book and contracted my second. I should be ecstatic. Instead, I fear that I'm not doing a good enough job.
In my YA writing, I'm not sure that I've delved into that place where a reader's emotions are. I have lots of action, adventure, and mystery in my stories, but I want readers to feel like I've felt. I've mourned the loss of a character in certain books. I'll admit that I cried while trying to finish one book mentioned in this post. I've thought about the books after finishing them. Whether you are writing dark YA or any other genre, you want readers to feel that special connection with the characters. I worry that I'm not getting you to that level of emotional involvement. It should be more than a story. I want you to care. Deeply. So, my new goal in writing? I want to make you cry... or at least get that lump in your throat. That would make me very happy. Yeah, I know it's selfish.
Psst...There's a secret giveaway on my site for November. Want to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon? Click here to enter.
**jacket cover images from www.goodreads.com