Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The History of a Young Adult

Young Adult
Why, eh? (Sorry, Canadian joke.)
Vampires, ooooo I love vampires.
No way, werewolves so hot.

I got a haircut the other day and saw a whole lot of grey so maybe I missed whenever vampires and werewolves got sexy.  My daughter even has a T shirt that says, “Princess?  I’d rather be a vampire.”  What?  She’d rather be undead sucking the blood out of people and watching her entire family die as she lives on?  When I was her age…did I just say that?  Anyway, I didn’t want to be a vampire.  I wanted to be Maverick in Top Gun. 

To me vampires are Bram Stokers Dracula and Anne Rice’s Lestat.  What is it Lestat says, “God kills indiscriminantly, and so shall we.”  They grab whomever they chose and drain their blood until they are dead.  Werewolves attack without thought or discretion and kill.  My novel is a suspense thriller about a serial killer.  In my mind loving a vampire or werewolf is not much different than having a crush on serial killers like Ted Bundy or Dahmer or Gacy.

Okay, I will stop that there.  I know that YA novels are not ALL about vampires and werewolves…right?  I must have been in a comma the past few years because I didn’t realise how big the YA genre was.  I knew there was this wizard dude and I read most of those books but then these glittering vampires showed up and some girl up in a tree with a bow.  I didn’t read the vampire one but I do plan on reading Hunger Games.  This Young Adult thing is huge.  You go out on the internet thingy looking for boog blogs and 9 out of 10 are going to be YA.  When the hell did this happen?

I decided to do my research…

When I was my kids age, which is 10 and 12, I can’t remember there being a  Young Adult category.  Is it a new thing then?  Nope.  I had the Hardy Boys and I knew about Nancy Drew but apparently this genre started way back in the 1800’s.  A lot of classic novels fall in this genre.  The Swiss Family Robinson (1812), Alice in Wonderland (1865), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Anne of Green Gables (1908).  Some say, however, that the YA genre didn’t really start until 1951 when The Catcher in the Rye was published.  Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Lord of the Flies, The Narnia series, and so on, and so on.  Oh, I can’t forget The Outsiders.  Basically the Young Adult novel has been around for quite some time.  Most of them had nothing to do with vampires.

I could be wrong, but to me the modern though of YA novels is that they have to have something to do with vampires or magic or fantasy.  Truth is they don’t.  A YA novel is defined as a book written for and marketed to adolescence between the ages of 12 and 19.  The protagonist is usually someone within that age range as opposed to an adult.  The unique thing that YA novels have is that they can pretty much cross over with just about every genre there is.  And the books are not strictly for Young Adults.  As long as the books are well written everyone can find enjoyment in them.

YA is a giant entity in the book work.  Is it getting saturated?  Is there still room for more?  My kids have always wanted me to write them into a story somehow.  If you can't beat them-join them.  The following is something that puts my old Hardy Boys books with my kids and involves something I wrote on an earlier post called Ideas Everywhere:

“Kib shubud all dremy.”

“Weev chim adone, Pawnee whats im.” 

There was heat and smells.  His body was itchy.  Where was he?

A lone man walked.  His boots hit the black highway dispersing the heat haze that hung above its surface.  Faded and torn jeans clung to his sweaty legs.  A belt buckle made of white bone seemed to glow in the sun and heat.  He walked like a man with a path to follow.  Each step had a purpose.  A white shirt, strategically stained with sweat, was open showing the muscles of his stomach and chest.  A brown suede jacket hung from his hand like a dead animal.  The hot afternoon sun touched his tanned skin in waves of immense heat that never seemed to stop. 

“Whetar we dogin witt de grrr?”

“Frog ter, haw haw ho haw.”

What was going on?

Sweat ran down his face, grew pregnant on a hard jaw line and dropped only to be evaporated into the hot breathless air before reaching the black asphalt.  His sandy brown hair fell almost to his shoulders and was drenched in perspiration.  Tiny droplets fell and joined the others in the fabric of his shirt.  Blue eyes squinted and looked forward. 

Stretched out on either side of the long highway was a sand crusted desert.  Cactus plants took whatever liquid they could get from the scorched sandy earth.  Rocks were scattered about as if play pieces from a child’s game abandoned and forgotten.  There was nothing close by with the promise of shade.  The trees were sparse and leafless.  The only wind was hotter than the air.  Perched on a sign, too faded to read, a black raven called out.


Somewhere amongst the rocks there was a rattling.  His tongue teased his cracked lips.  He was a lone man.  He walked alone through the valley of death and indeed, he feared no evil.

“Kid, eh, quit your damn noises.”  The words came through the juicy smacking of gum.

Wylie blinked.  He thought about raising his hand to wipe something wet from his mouth, but neither hand would move.  Why wouldn’t they move?  His wrists burned.  They were attached to each other.  Tied?  Taped?  Heat from a vent pointed directly at his face blasted hot air against his face. 

Where was he?  What was happening?

He closed his eyes and squeezed his lids tight then tried to open them and focus.  There were only pieces of things.  Nothing made sense.  A key chain made of beads rattled off a steering column.  A woman’s voice sang a country song about independence.

Jordann liked to sing.  Jordann?

A collection of air fresheners hung from the rear-view mirror.  A dozen or so pine trees of dark and light green, yellow, blue, and white, a red maple leaf, a brown pine cone with a big green leaf, and one of the Tasmanian Devil from old Looney Tunes cartoons had all done their job at some point in time.  A new orange pine tree with the word coconut written on it was trying.  The first smell Wylie got was stale sweat and cheese crackers.

He was covered from the neck down by a tan wool blanket.  It had green stripes on it.  It made his skin itch.  He could tell his hands were tied together.  He couldn’t separate his ankles from each other.  His head felt like it was spinning.  There was something wet and sticky on the side of his face along with a throbbing.  He had to close his eyes again.  Where was he going?  What were they going to do to him?  Where was his sister, Jordann?

He had to remember how he got there.

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