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III. Goodreads Readers > Qualms With YA Adult Authors from an Avid Reader

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message 101: by Paul (new)

Paul | 27 comments I think the original question referred to choice - or lack of - in YA books. Now, some will want to read about teens thrust into adult situations, seeing how they cope, dealing with unflinching reality in the process. Others will want to read books that contain nothing offensive to the Christian conservative faction.

If there truly is nothing readily available that suits the latter group, why not start a publishing house that caters for their needs? There are enough of that opinion, and they are hardly shy, retiring folk, to have the financial clout to make it a successful enterprise.

What I shudder to contemplate, however, is a situation where it's either-or. I'm thinking here of situations where a vocal minority institutes censorship in local schools and libraries, to the extent of burning 'offensive' works. I find that approach to YA fiction far more offensive than the most foul-mouthed, promiscuous, gore-splattered stuff available.

'Adults' should have enough faith in the intelligence of teenagers to allow them to make the choice between profane and sacred for themselves.

I might also point out, that reading about situations you might not encounter in your day-to-day lives makes you better able to cope, more mature and flexible enough to adapt successfully when you do encounter violence, drugs and bad language.

Reading is all about broadening horizons and enriching your schema - mental model of the world. What is the point in reading about something you already see daily? Where's the enrichment in that?

Do some people fear having horizons broadened? Do they fear their world view will not bear comparison with alternatives?

Incidentally, I'd never thought of bestiality versus necrophilia, but I shall never look at Twilight in the same way again... :)


message 102: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments Julie wrote: "The world has changed a lot since the books I loved in my childhood were written. Teenagers have every reason to want books that take place in the world they live in.

That said, I'm still very fon..."

Wow someone who grew up on the Hardy Boys.. I read all of them until I got to the point that I was waiting for the next one to come out. You are probably in my age group as well


message 103: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 88 comments Paul wrote: "I'd never thought of bestiality versus necrophilia, but I shall never look at Twilight in the same way again... :)"

Now I wont be able to either. LOL


message 104: by Pat (new)

Pat Whitaker (whitakerbooks) | 19 comments Paul wrote: "Accuracy. If you were depicting, for example, a teenage gang-member,..."

As Paul says, the dialogue is dictated by the character. Personally, I make a distinction between dialogue and narrative. I will include sex, violence or whatever (in the narrative) when appropriate to the story - it is and always has been a part of life - but what I don't do is describe these things taking place in real-time and graphic detail. I see no need for that and often suspect that it conceals a lack of substance (although that might be personal prejudice on my part).


message 105: by Sharon (last edited Aug 05, 2010 02:08PM) (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 587 comments Pat wrote: "Paul wrote: "Accuracy. If you were depicting, for example, a teenage gang-member,..."

As Paul says, the dialogue is dictated by the character. Personally, I make a distinction between dialogue and..."


I tend to concur, generally speaking. For example, I have found that I am perfectly capable of writing something sensuous/erotic without resorting to George Carlin's infamous seven words. It is possible to write scenes that advance the story in numerous ways while avoiding gratuitousness.

I don't understand the huffy, censorious tone of people who disapprove of certain books when there are more than enough books out in the world to please any given taste. If you don't like it, don't read it. It's pretty simple. However, that doesn't mean that you dictate what anyone else reads or writes.

"I don't like it, so it shouldn't be written" is just a few steps away from
Fahrenheit 451, if you ask me.


message 106: by Julie (new)

Julie | 31 comments I agree with Sharon and Paul. Censorship is a Bad Thing. Always.

Stories need to be told. Just because a story has to be told doesn't mean you have to read it. And just because you don't want to read it doesn't mean it shouldn't be told.

I don't want to assume that someone who dislikes sex in novels feels that way because of religion, but those who do have religious concerns already have their own publishers and bookstores. And any good librarian can help you find the non-religious "clean" books, if that's what you want.

I can't imagine having to resort to Those Words to tell a story, erotic or otherwise. I would, however, put them into the mouth of a character who would use them naturally.


message 107: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (JanHurst-Nicholson) | 242 comments Mystery at Ocean Drive by Jan Hurst-NicholsonMystery at Ocean Drive is a Hardy Boys-type adventure story that has nothing more than a chaste kiss.
Hope it fits the criteria for the first poster. (insert smiley).


message 108: by Lily (new)

Lily Author (Lilyauthor) | 69 comments I just wanted to mention something here.

When a novel is traditionally published, how it's categorized is up to the publisher and/or the agent. Not every author sets out to write a YA novel, but it's deemed best to categorize it as such, for the sake of easy sale and marketing.

Readers often don't see what happens behind the scenes. A lot, if not all, of the traditionally published books out there, especially those categorized as YA, are pure marketing. YA is easier to sell. Romance is the easiest genre to tell. That doesn't mean a book categorized and promoted as a YA Romance really is YA or even romantic.

It's just marketing, nothing more.


message 109: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (JanHurst-Nicholson) | 242 comments Agreed. I wonder if any of today's books will become classics.


message 110: by [deleted user] (new)

Only TIME will tell, Jan! :)

Than again, when people reach my age, are we considered classic?


message 111: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments I think you have to be 50. That's car years


message 112: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (JanHurst-Nicholson) | 242 comments We had an MG TC that was considered a classic - and it was younger than me!


message 113: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments How often do you have to have your oil changed>


message 114: by [deleted user] (new)

50, Jeffery!?! Well, I passed that mark. LOL


message 115: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments Then in cars years you are a classic


message 116: by [deleted user] (new)

American made! :)


message 117: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments I guess the car thing got a few comments. Anyone know how to contact or connect with a book agent?


message 118: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (JanHurst-Nicholson) | 242 comments Try this website, it lists agents, and writers post their experiences.
http://querytracker.net/


message 119: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments Jan wrote: "Try this website, it lists agents, and writers post their experiences.
http://querytracker.net/"


Thanks for the link. I will give it a shot

Jeff


message 120: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (JeffreyRCrimmelcom) | 177 comments Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the other two books in series.


message 121: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (JanHurst-Nicholson) | 242 comments I just got a review for my Leon Chameleon PI children's book that was headed 'an instant classic'. Now that's exciting. I wonder how a 'classic' is decided. Does it take 20 yrs, 50 yrs?


message 122: by Paul (new)

Paul Donovan | 7 comments I think a lot of people are missing the point of the OP. It's not an argument about censorship, it's about targeting a book to an age group, and then including inappropriate material for that group. The problem is, what is inappropriate? I know what I think is wrong, but I also don't think most people have a strong sense of right and wrong anymore. I just wrote a novel that I consider YA(doesn't fit some people's desc.)and I had my 13 year old daughter involved so I wrote what I wanted her to read. And think about it, some of the greatest novels ever written have no excessive language and no sex, so why do I need it?


message 123: by Tim (new)

Tim Greaton | 32 comments Hi, Everyone. I think this is a great subject. I have written a couple of books that some people classify as Christion or Religious, and I really understand how actions can get labeled so that the conversation somehow switches from the action to the label. I think Stephanie has a great point, and I like others wonder if it might be changes in the reading public and accelerated maturity that is driving the more mature fiction content.


message 124: by Sarah (last edited Sep 21, 2011 12:51PM) (new)

Sarah Castillo (mredria) I think one of the problems is that young adult is such a broad age group. What I read at 12-14 should not be the same in content as what I read when I'm 15-17. And that shouldn't be the same as 18-20. But it's all together. The sexual content that should be allowed in a middle school book (holding hands. Maybe some cheek kissing) shouldn't be the same as what would be in a high school book (hugging, open mouth kissing, maybe holding), and that shouldn't be the same as what's sold to highschool seniors and early college aged children (I.. well.. more than kissing and hugging...).
I definitely don't think that sex is immoral, and personally wouldn't mind if my kids(or currently, neices) read books with sexual content. But the context and nature of the sexual content is a real concern. For example, some of the sexual content in Twilight is what I would call coercive, and is not something I'd want children I know seeing. That's not something I want anyone seeing. There's also the problem that some of the kids in these books are excessively young, which might give kids the idea that to be loved, you have to be sexual. That's not a great lesson.
Another problem is violence. I read a YA that was very 'clean' from a sexual standpoint. I thought it was great. Then I found out it was YA and blanched. It was filled with extremely graphic and disturbing violence. Detailed descriptions of beatings and the dehumanization of the impoverished. Very, Very troubling.
So I guess what I'm saying is that it's not so much a problem with the genre as it is a problem with the parameters of the genre. It's a big genre.


message 125: by Mary (new)

Mary Findley Sarah wrote: "I think one of the problems is that young adult is such a broad age group. What I read at 12-14 should not be the same in content as what I read when I'm 15-17. And that shouldn't be the same as 18..."
Sarah, you are so right! I looked into Children's historical fiction and found it was being expanded to YA and adult appropriate material. I guess the idea is to desensitize children and adolescents but do it by making them feel included and grown up. It is terrible!


message 126: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Campbell (goodreadscomnickthegreek11) A terrific author of young adult books, and a member of this group, Timothy Davis, has written two books that are "clean" and skillfully written, perfect for girls and boys as well. They are: Sea Cutter: Book I in the Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe and Red Stone: Book II of the Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe, both Kindle editions. They are historical adventure stories about the sea. Excellently written.


message 127: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 22, 2011 07:30PM) (new)

I have to agree -- a lot of YA fiction does have immorality in it, and it drives me insane. I'm sick of reading books that deal with sex as if it's all there is to the world, and I personally won't read them (which makes my reading list a bit small, unfortunately), though I don't like to knock the authors who write them and the people who do read them, because I think it's their choice.

There are authors, however, who don't put those things in their books, and I am one of them. My books don't contain any sex, language, or drug references (yay!), and I like them that way. If you're looking for something different, then check out my latest novel: The Foxfire Chronicles: Shadows of Past Memories

It's the start of a series, so there will be more where that came from. Please read it and let me know what you think, and if you find any other good YA novels without the immorality, please post them. I would love to read!


message 128: by J. (new)

J. Sterling (jsterling) my books don't have any sex... i'm not comfortable writing it to tell you the truth, and it doesn't FEEL right for my characters. but i understand why people write about teenagers having sex- because they DO have sex. lol i think people try to write reality as they view it or see it. while i don't have a problem with sex in books, i just chose not to have any in mine because it would be completely unwarrented. my books don't need it- :) In Dreams


message 129: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (JanHurst-Nicholson) | 242 comments There are readers for all types of books, some of which will portray what is actually happening in the lives of today's teenagers, and these books have a place. But my preferred reading has always been for escapism from the realities of every-day life, and these are the type of books that I tend to write.
My YA novel is a 'clean' Hardy-Boys type action adventure.
Mystery at Ocean Drive
Mystery at Ocean Drive by Jan Hurst-Nicholson


message 130: by [deleted user] (new)

Unfortunately young adults and children are often exposed to sexual situations and moral dilemas. Today's Times (UK) has stories about older men grooming young girls via Facebook. And it's tragically not occasional.

There are so many dangerous situations young people can fall into theses days. I don't write for young adults, but I do write about young adults.

I think novels that show young readers the terrible dangers of internet grooming are perhaps doing everyone a favour.


message 131: by Lori (new)

Lori Strongin | 26 comments Just read back through this thread and WOW, there's a lot to think about presented here.

I'm with all those who oppose censorship. But likewise, I think parents need to be more involved with what their kids are reading and helping them decide if, maturity-wise, they're capable of handling the themes in certain novels. Ex: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jackie Morse Kessler's books, but I wouldn't let my (hypothetical) nine year old read them until he/she was much older. Nine, I feel, is too young to understand/internalize/cope with some of the very dark themes of Kessler's books.

I know the idea has been bandied before, but maybe books need a ratings system like we have for TV and movies. But books could have more diverse ratings: a green square for sexual situations, an orange circle for self-harm, purple triangle for mental disorders, etc. And like movies and TV do, there would be a panel of informed and impartial aribeters who read the books and likewise color-code them. My vote would be for a panel of YA lit librarians since they have to have a solid grasp on book themes and can measure them up against the age percentages they see checking out certain types of books.

Just my two, idealistic cents. ;)


Smiles!
Lori


message 132: by [deleted user] (new)

Lori wrote: "Just read back through this thread and WOW, there's a lot to think about presented here.

I'm with all those who oppose censorship. But likewise, I think parents need to be more involved with wh..."


I like the idea of color-coded ratings! I also think that ratings (of any kind) would be good, especially for teen/YA books. It reminds me of manga in a way -- a good deal of the manga they produce has a rating on the back, and tells you why it's rated what it is/what content it has.


message 133: by Jacques (new)

Jacques Antoine (JacquesAntoine) | 21 comments This is an old thread, but it speaks to me somehow. I sympathize with Stephanie (the op) about the too much sex in YA novels. Maybe too much violence as well, but perhaps that's another argument.

I started writing YA because I was dissatisfied with what was available for my 12yo daughter. She finds romance boring, and sex would completely gross her out. And I found the level of the writing in most of what was available to be disappointing--no character development, weak scenic description, unimaginative language, formulaic plotting. I wanted to give her an example of writing that could be imaginative, without relying on "cheap thrills", vampires, zombies, etc. [Don't get me wrong. I love a good zombie or vampire story. But it is possible to write about other things.]

It turns out that my daughter likes action stories. She's really into karate, so that sort of makes sense. So I set out to write an action story. The heroine gets into fights, she's tough. But she's fighting for something she thinks is worthwhile. At the same time she is painfully aware of the moral dimension of fighting. She makes choices and lives with the consequences, which are visible to her and the reader.

A book is "moral" or "immoral" not just because it has sex or violence in it, but also and perhaps mainly because of how the story invites the reader to think about that stuff. There's no sex in my books, but there is violence. I hope its presented in such a way as to let the reader experience the moral complexity of violence.


message 134: by [deleted user] (new)

Jacques wrote: "This is an old thread, but it speaks to me somehow. I sympathize with Stephanie (the op) about the too much sex in YA novels. Maybe too much violence as well, but perhaps that's another argument.
..."


Great thoughts here! It's wonderful that you decided to write because you saw that your daughter didn't like what she was being presented with. Sadly, I see this a lot, and it's also a reason I write what I write. I think some of the best books come out of the desire to give someone something that they really would like to read.


message 135: by Jacques (new)

Jacques Antoine (JacquesAntoine) | 21 comments Thanks, Alexandra. I guess writing always comes with a motivation of some sort.

And just to clarify something I said below:

"A book is "moral" or "immoral" not just because it has sex or violence in it, but also and perhaps mainly because of how the story invites the reader to think about that stuff."

I think things like sex and violence pose a challenge to any writer in just this respect.

Depictions of violence can be seductive, and can distract the reader (and the writer) from thinking about the meaning of such events. Just as in real life, when people resort to violence it often means they have given up on trying to use words. So too in writing, scenes of violence indicate a sort of semantic failure. The challenge is to make the violent scene an invitation to continue thinking about the meaning of that event, rather than just wallowing in the visceral thrill of it. Writing about violence is difficult because it constantly threatens to undermine the meaningfulness of the story.

I think sex must be even more difficult to write about than violence, since it is much more seductive and the temptation to wallow in it must be greater. It's probably distinct from violence in one way, since the meaningfulness comes to an end through a different sort of passion. That's probably why erotic fiction focuses mainly on the before and after. There is nothing meaningful (no interesting work for words) in sex itself. But anticipation, regret, anxiety, etc., those states are perhaps over-saturated with meaning.

Personally, I can't imagine any role for sex scenes in YA lit. But the anxieties surrounding adolescent social development, which eventually includes opening oneself up to others in pre-sexual ways, I imagine that there are lots of important things to be learned from trying to think that through in a story. I say the anxiety is important because it necessarily involves a reflection on the moral context of social behavior of every kind. Without a moral reflection, there's nothing worth writing about here.

But I also think that in the context of YA lit, that anxiety is only worth narrating if it leads to abstinence. I have no ideological axe to grind here. I just mean that the narrative has nothing to say, no interesting meaning to articulate, if it leads anywhere else. A "morally uplifting tale" is really the only tale that can be told. I suspect there must be some deep truth lurking here somewhere.


message 136: by [deleted user] (new)

Jacques wrote: "Thanks, Alexandra. I guess writing always comes with a motivation of some sort.

And just to clarify something I said below:

"A book is "moral" or "immoral" not just because it has sex or violenc..."


I agree with you. Both sex and violence are big parts of YA lit right now, and I think that in most ways, this is unfortunate. I don't seem to see enough authors thinking about it in the way that you are -- not whether or not the teens will like what they write, or will relate to it, but what it will make them think about. If you're going to write a book with violence or sex in it, I think it should be to make a point, to make the reader think about what those actions would lead to, what their consequences are, not only the act itself. Not to say that authors who don't write for these reasons are "bad" or don't know what they're doing, I simply think that writing to make someone think (while not throwing the thinking in their face, because nobody wants that) is honorable. I think that that way, the reader will pull something away from the story, other than entertainment.


message 137: by Indie (new)

Indie Anna | 5 comments Stephanie wrote: "Sorry if I'm breaking any rules but I have a...frustrating qualm with YA authors. How come almost every YA book has immorality in it? Can no one write a clean book? Am I the only one who thinks tha..."

This thread seems to have gotten nasty, so I'm just going to answer the original post.

If you want teen books without sex, there are tons of them. Most teen books that are not romances have little to no sex. However, finding non-romantic teen books may be a little difficult at major bookstores. Most of the books they shelve are romance novels. Why? Because that's what most teenage girls care about--boys. Of course they care about other things, too. But relationships with the opposite sex are a new thing at that age and it's only natural for teenagers to be interested in the opposite sex. So authors are going to write about that, and people are going to read those books.

And as an adult female, I still like reading love stories. So again, authors write that because people want to read it. There are lots of authors who write for readers who don't want sexual issues addressed, though. Maybe check out some adventure novels, historical fiction (where the love is 'clean' as you say), or classics.


message 138: by [deleted user] (new)

Indie wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "Sorry if I'm breaking any rules but I have a...frustrating qualm with YA authors. How come almost every YA book has immorality in it? Can no one write a clean book? Am I the only..."

Great post, Indie! I in no way wanted to say that romance is bad. In fact, I love romance, but I agree with the original post that there seems to be too many teen novels that are sexually charged on the bookshelves. I think you can still write "clean" romance and have a good story. :)


message 139: by Lana (new)

Lana Bradstream (lanabradstream) | 145 comments Maybe I was too coddled, but my idea of a YA book is something like Fear Street -- horror and mystery with a tinge of romance. I actually stopped reading those when I was in seventh grade and jumped right into Dragonlance, but that is what I see when I think YA. Walking into B&N, I see covers with a young damsel in distress swooning over a handsome angel or vampire without a shirt on.


message 140: by Jacques (new)

Jacques Antoine (JacquesAntoine) | 21 comments I'd like to think of YA as referring to an age group that encompasses various genres. But sometimes it seems to refer to romance exclusively. In another group, a teen age boy asked if there were any YA novels for boys. Of course there are loads of titles that would appeal to boys. But his puzzlement is understandable. In bookstores, YA sections appear to stock mainly romance stories.

I suppose that sort of marketing decision reflects an insight into what sells. Girls read more than boys in that age group, and maybe they are primarily interested in romance stories. I mean, people who make a living selling books probably know their market better than I do. But I worry that those sorts of business decisions can also have the unintended consequence of discouraging girls from exploring other genres.


message 141: by Jane (last edited Jan 16, 2012 01:27AM) (new)

Jane (JaneLovesLife) | 7 comments Just had knee surgery, couldn't sleep and came across this thread. WOW what a conversation! Everyone has the right to their opinions whether we like them or not. I recently read a great book by an indie author, which is very suitable for teen/tweens/parents who like a clean read. Best wishes to you all.

LightMasters Number 13 by M.G. Wells


message 142: by Jacques (new)

Jacques Antoine (JacquesAntoine) | 21 comments What was it? Do tell.

My daughter just read several books by Maureen Johnson. She loved 'em all: Suite Scarlett, Scarlett Fever, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope, The Key To The Golden Firebird.

They're romances, sort of. But they're more than that, though boys might not notice. I read a few of them too, and I am very impressed by how smart and wickedly funny they are, but also ironic and even wise. I recommend them very highly, to teens or parents looking for a book to inspire their teen.


message 143: by RedMum (new)

RedMum | 4 comments Jane wrote: "Just had knee surgery, couldn't sleep and came across this thread. WOW what a conversation! Everyone has the right to their opinions whether we like them or not. I recently read a great book by an..."

I agree. I also read/reviewed this book and it is suitable for all. Books like this are rare these days. So many are filled with sex, violence, etc. As a parent, I recommend this book to all who are interested. Cheers!


message 144: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Miller | 17 comments Hi Stephanie,
I just came across this thread today and read through the messages. I'm writing a YA adult novel about a teenage girl who loves to dance and has to have hip surgery. It's contemporary, realistic fiction. There's no swearing, and the romantic subplot doesn't go beyond a couple of kisses. Would you be interested in beta reading my book? One of my goals in writing it is to create an interesting story that doubles as a resource for kids who have to go through major surgery. I want to write it so that a 12-year-old girl can read it without squirming, but so that it feels relevant to older teens as well. The main character is 15.


message 145: by Indie (new)

Indie Anna | 5 comments I like all that...but then, I'm an adult.


message 146: by Lea (new)

Lea Carter (klcislc) | 22 comments Nothing like arriving late to a party. This thread sure got off topic for a while, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents and say that I will not read books with sex/sexuality/smut/whatever you want to call it. lol. I don't write them, either.
I know it's been about two years since you started this post, Stephanie, but I'm glad you did. I need to find a way to reach out to those people who prefer the kind of writing I'm doing.
Wow, that sounds so obvious as I reread it! Anyway, hope you found/keep finding good books to read.


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