Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Future of YA...

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
- Niels Bohr

My friend Jordyn @ Ten Cent Notes did a post on hopeful future trends. Check out what she said here...

Vampires are fun, faeries are trendy, werewolves are cool, and dystopians are cute! And as far as authors go, we've got experienced favorites, and incredibly talented newbies on the block. They're all doing a fabulous job keeping the YA shelves at bookstores stacked full with entertaining but quality literature.

HOWEVER (there's always a 'however,' isn't there?)...

Where is the future going to take us?

Here are some of my wishes for YA in the years to come -

1. More standalone non-contemporary books
Trilogies and series are great for fantasy/paranormal fiction, but sometimes it's nice for a story to wrap up and be done after one book. Kudos to The Replacement for doing this!

2. Return to HIGH FANTASY.
We've got paranormal books out the wazoo. But really, nothing says EPIC like a totally 100% off-the-map imaginary setting. Let's have more Middle Earth-inspired places in YA, please!
More faraway worlds, more quests, more swords, more heroes. More epic, please!

3. More wizards.
This is probably still a taboo type of character since Harry Potter, but I don't think the literary world would kill new authors with magically capable boy MCs. I'm seeing lots of witches, which is cool, but let's have some more wizards. Call 'em warlocks or sorcerers if it makes ya feel better

4. More aliens
IAM#4 started a great trend this year - bringing back the alien love. I gotta admit, when I think of 'aliens,' I either think of E.T. or that ultra-gross/creepy thing from the movie Alien. Either way, not a pretty picture. I bet we'll see more aliens, more traversing the galaxies, and more inter-galactic battles in the future. Bring it on!

5. More non-traditional historical fiction
I mean periods of history that are often forgotten or overlooked. We have plenty of great fiction for Victorian London (not just limited to steampunk), the Jazz Age, and even Civil War America.
But what about the early 19th century - what about pioneers? What about Great Depression fiction, or WWII homefront fiction? What about the Happy Day '50s?
And do you ever notice that it seems like historical fiction is limited to either American or British settings? So many other fascinating places and periods in history - let's see some Latin American history, some Eastern European history (hello, what was it like growing up in the Cold War?) or some...Australian history?! Yes, tales from the Outback!
Lots of great historical settings that could be tapped into. Bring it on.

6. More MG/YA Crossovers
What is the Harry Potter series? Is it Middle Grade or Young Adult? It's BOTH, because the characters go from kids to almost-adults over the course of the series. Ditto with Percy Jackson. Series books are cool, but it seems like so many of the characters start out as teens and stay that age. Let's have some real coming-of-age series, please - ones where we can kind of 'grow up' with the characters (in a manner of speaking).

7. Less angels/fallen angels
Personal preference entirely. I really don't like angel fiction and would love for it to go away.
:DNo Mo' Ango.

8. For Contemporary - "Salute to the Forgotten Teen"
You know how there's the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior? Well, this is Salute to the Forgotten Teen. You know, teens that don't take part in excessive, dangerous, irresponsible and edgy behavior. Kids who actually have real problems (self-esteem issues, body image issues, anxiety about the future...turning 16 and wondering when that car is going to magically appear) but who aren't over-the-top dramatic. Kids who spend time in class, actually care about their grades, girls who aren't boy-crazy, kids who aren't defined by their extracurricular activities (or lack thereof) and kids who freaking get along with their parents! Maybe those manuscripts are out there, but pubs shake their heads and go, "Nope, not interesting enough." Who knows? But there's a whole group of teens out there that I think are heavily underrepresented in fiction, and I certainly don't want them to get the message that they're somehow inadequate or unworthy or representation. Teen characters can't always be Bovine Camerons or Charlie-the-Wallflowers. Just an idea...

9. ELVESOkay, so elves are like the kissing cousins of fairies (actually, they're folklorically the same thing) but as a righteous Tolkienhead, I love elves. I'd like to see elves pop up in fantasy

10. "Realistic" Dystopian
As cool/crazy as these (current trend of YA dystopians) futuristic societies are, only one book so far has seemed "believable," as in, Yep, I can totally see this happening in the not-too-distant future, and that's Uglies. I guess I'd like more consideration and more scare-tactics put into YA dystopians. Create a world that could actually happen. Take stuff from our culture, manipulate it/enhance it, whatever, but make tie-ins with our current world. 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and The Giver all had messages, all had things to say about our current societies.
Whether or not the reader agrees is secondary; what's important is to actually get them thinking.
Cool premises are fun, but let's have dystopians that hearken back to their successful predecessors, please. Come on, authors, freak me out! I dare ya! :D

--And bonus number--
(just because I'm slightly eccentric, but only slightly!)


11. YA Westerns.Yep, ya heard me. YA Westerns. Westerns for Young Adults. Cowboys! Outlaws! Gunslingers! Immigrants and established citizens alike seeking land, freedom, and a new start in the great Wild West! Striking out and creating new societies - bringing civilization to an primitive land.
(Lol, can you tell I just had 'American West' last semester?)
I'd write one myself (planning on it, actually) but it might take me a couple years.
Okay, so it might be just me - but have any of you guys thought of what it would be like to revive the Western genre and bring it to YA?
Take this genre and blend it with fantasy if you want, but I'd love for the Western genre to see some representation in the Young Adult market.

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