Fiction for young people has had a long tradition. You can go back to Dicken’s David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, Louisa Alcott’s Little Women and our own Seven little Australians. There were the Biggles stories and the boys and girl’s own adventures and today there are a plethora of styles and genres that encompass the books that are also labeled YA.
In a podcast, How to write YA fiction, from the 27th of July, two very successful current YA authors, John Green (US) and Bernard Beckett (NZ), talked to Sarah leStrange on the The Book Show (Radio National). The books of both authors are much prized by young adults and so they are worth listening to when there is discussion about writing for young adults. You can hear, in the 12 minute conversation, the things they consider to be the key ingredients to capture the attention of teen readers today.
Good literature is just that. I wrote a post trying to define my thoughts about what constitutes “YA” literature. Good YA literature is enjoyed by older readers as well as the YA audience. In some ways this literature has to be better than a lot of adult literature. For instance young people tend to be less forgiving about slow beginnings and padding. At the moment, if I had to quickly define YA literature,that the books must have a good story, driven by the actions and choices of the teenage characters, and essentially be about the growth of those characters.
These two authors voice some very interesting thoughts and again there are no firm definitions. Have a look on the Fiction Focus site for discussions and links to further exchanges about YA Literatue