50% of Young Adults are male… go figure

Yes, this is a random!dude reading Alyson Noel's Blue Moon. I found it on Noel's blog and it is originally from NYCSubwayGuys - a rather creepy tumblr I won't link to...

Yes, this is a random!dude reading Alyson Noel’s Blue Moon. I found it on Noel’s blog and it is originally from NYCSubwayGuys – a rather creepy tumblr I won’t link to…

So, there’s been some talk on twitter as of late about male authors in YA – or rather, the lack of male authors in the genre. I haven’t really been following the whole kurfuffel but I think the general conclusion (although correct me if I’m wrong) was that male authors can have a tougher time getting published because the YA market is swarmed with teenager girl readers. But is that true? OK, I’m sure this assumption comes out of actual data. There must be market research out there somewhere that says the following:

  1. Most YA readers are girls.
  2. Most YA readers (because they are girls) will read only women authors.
  3. The few male-YA readers that are out there only read the rough-tough, macho books that are especially released for them.

These are the generalisations that I have fallen into and, like most generalisations, I’m sure they are based on some sort of fact.  But speaking from my own anecdotal experience, I think I’ve seen just as many men reading YA “in the wild” as I have women.

The other day, I was sitting in a London City Pret a Manger at 8 am tucking into a bowl of porridge. I was distracted by something, looked up, and saw the man sitting next to me was reading Maria V. Snyder’s Sea Glass. I was so surprised by this that I nearly went up to the guy and asked why he had picked it up! (You’ll be glad to hear that I managed to restrain myself.) But then I thought about all the times I have stood in the YA section at Foyles and spotted real life, adult men going through the shelves… it has happened more than once! And perhaps that’s the problem.  These are male adult readers – men who aren’t bothered by the YA label when they pick up a book.

Did these men read YA when they were young adults? I don’t know. Hell, I never read YA as a young adult and I was the perfect target audience: teenage, female and a reader. So maybe the trouble isn’t with getting into the crossover adult market of male readers… and instead, the problem is getting teenage boys to pick up a book.

Hmm… good luck with that one.

Darkest Powers >>> LIFE (and it has a kick-ass website!)

The Summoning by Kelley ArmstrongUnlike a lot of other YA bloggers out there, I did not “get into” YA from Twilight. I hadn’t read YA novels as a young adult and, to be honest, I didn’t even consider it a “real” genre. And even though I read Twilight to see what all the fuss was about, it didn’t change my mind on the matter.

And then, about a year after I read Twilight – okay, May 2009, but who’s counting? – I picked up The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. I was intrigued by the concept of a teen who sees ghosts being locked up in a mental institution. It was just such a logical reaction to an inconceivable supernatural power, not to mention it meant lots of lovely opportunities to explore social opinions about mental illness. I was eager to see if Armstrong – who I had never heard of – could pull it off. Admittedly, I didn’t think she could!

I was so wrong.

I finished The Summoning that same night – and had ordered The Awakening by the next day. When it came, I devoured it. If anything, The Awakening was even better than The Summoning (even though it lacked all that deep – and very well handled – social commentary). When I found out that The Reckoning wasn’t coming out until the next year, I could have cried.

And during that epic wait, I went in search of all sorts of brilliant YA novels to keep me busy. YA book bloggers pointed me in the right direction, and led me to start my own – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why are you bringing this up, you ask?

Darkest powers site

Because there is a brand new DARKEST POWERS WEBSITE!

It’s epic. The whole site is done up as Edison Group files, meaning Chloe is a “Case Study” and Derek’s bio is listed under “Known Associates”. Pretty cool, huh? It’s also got Kelley’s blog incorporated into it, complete with all her lovely DP-verse short stories. Not to mention a LOT of new information about her upcoming YA trilogy Darkness Rising.

The new trilogy starts with The Gathering (April 12th, 2011) and stars Maya Delany. Like the Darkest Powers series, it also focusses on teens who were subjects in Edison Group projects. But instead of a vague summary to keep fans wondering, Kelley has put up biographic information about all the characters in the new books – including one lovely German Shepherd named Kenji (*is in love*)!

Darkest powers siteAnd to top it all off, there is even a whopping thirteen-page excerpt from the book! How brilliant is that? Finding it isn’t too tricky – but you have to go into a “restricted area”, keeping with the theme of the whole site.

All of the old content is still there, including fanart, playlists and videos for the Darkest Powers. If you haven’t been yet, go now! And while you’re there, make sure to read Dangerous – a DP short story told from Derek’s POV!

Book Talk: Sex and Language in YA fantasy [TSS]

I have been reading a mix of YA fantasy this week – the Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine and the House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast – and I am amazed by the differences between them despite both being meant for Young Adults. The difference in language and sex in particular. There are no spoilers in this, just vague unspecific references.

In the House of Night Series, P.C. and Kristin write the way teenagers talk, not the way teenagers get talked to. For a fantasy series, it is painfully realistic – there were many instances where the books seemed more explicit than adult fantasy. There is a lot more swearing, drinking and sex – although the main characters usually aren’t involved. It’s like reading old-school HP fanfiction, where the writer delineates everything we usually just assume is going on in the background.

Even though there isn’t a single character in the series I identify with, I remember the swooning over guys… the parties where every one is trashed… the rumours of lewd sexual activities people were up to… and it is almost painful to remind myself of it all. Even though I was reading – and probably saying – a lot worse than that at 16… if I were a parent I wouldn’t buy these books for my teenage daughter.

The Morganville Vampire Series, on the other hand, is almost a different genre. While it deals with issues a lot, er, older than the House of Night Series – the main characters live without parental supervision, and have mature sexual relationships, and there is swearing all over the place – it is a series I would actually give to a teenager. There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of maturity. Basically, if you want to act like an adult – no matter your age – you should think like one too.

Also, Caine brings up what I consider an extremely important issue for YAs: having sex with minors even if you don’t consider yourself a “major”. Without getting into too many spoilers, Caine’s characters are quick to remember that even a one year age difference (i.e. 17-year old and an 18-year-old) is enough to constitute statutory rape. Admittedly, the likelihood of it being an issue is slim in real life, but I appreciate her bringing it up. I have met the extreme of the issue (13-year-olds dating 19-year-olds) and no matter what you say about maturity, it is so very illegal.

Anyhow, going from one series to the other really made me ponder.

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