July 16, 2012
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What Is YA?

YA (young adult) fiction was a frequent topic at Readercon, both because publishers will buy it (and sometimes seem reluctant to touch anything else) and because so much good YA is appearing from so many fine writers.

But what is YA?

One writer mentioned that her publisher had turned down her novel because it wasn’t really YA. “It’s not written in the first person,” they observed. The audience agreed this was misguided, but not entirely improbable.

There’s a general expectation that YA novels don’t have too much sex, and that nothing too terrible happens to their protagonist. But these expectations turn out to have exceptions, and of course those exceptions are singularly interesting.

My own definition: Contemporary YA fiction joins modern realism (or, alternatively, Gothic realism) with plot.