Ever since my character (tentatively named Jed) informed me about a week ago that he's sixteen rather than eighty, I've been researching young adult novels. I've never written one, so working on Jed's story will be a completely new adventure for me. I'm definitely charting unknown territory!
So far I've picked up copies of young adult novels by Sarah Dessen and Libba Bray, two writers who have been recommended to me, and I've gotten two books about writing for this age group: Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks and Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults by Victoria Hanley. I would certainly appreciate and welcome comments on these books or suggestions of other good YA novels or books about writing for teens.
Although I used to be an avid reader of young adult novels, I haven't read any recently, so I'm feeling a bit--okay, a lot--out of my element as I begin prepping to write this book. The things I've written in the past could probably be called contemporary fiction; some fall into the women's fiction/chick lit genre. I've always been comfortable writing in these genres. YA scares me a little since it's been so long since I fit into that age bracket, and my own kids are still much too young for me to take any inspiration from them. One thing I may do soon is hang out where the teenagers are--the mall, perhaps--and observe and listen. I'm a little nervous that my book will sound like it was written by a woman in her late thirties who's trying to sound like a teenager, which, although it's true, is definitely something I don't want to emphasize. More reading of current YA novels and observation of teens "in their habitats" should help with that--I hope!
More so than any other book I've written, this one feels like it will be a real journey for me. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something completely unfamiliar. It should be a fun ride!