If you only read Twitter, you’d think the bridge over the vast gulf between writing for teens and writing for adults is one of those flimsy rope ones you see in action movies. You know, the kind that unravel or get cut or disintegrate just as our intrepid hero tries to cross. You see it in the bios on Instagram: YA writer. Romance writer. As if the members of each group are in different Hogwarts houses and only see each other at the beginning of term dinner.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I cross that bridge all the time. I write both adult and YA (and I’m far from alone). All my novels have in common a thread of romance, chemistry between the main characters, a few sometimes-uncomfortable observations about societal conventions, a struggle to grow and change, and a messy-haired hero. (Which my older son would find hilarious, as I’m constantly telling him to comb his hair.) Here’s my big point: all these elements work no matter what age group I’m writing for.
I have three novels available now for online reading in which the main character is a teen girl (or slightly older) on the verge of adulthood and leaving home. You can find HERE’S WHERE SHE MEETS PRINCE CHARMING on Swoon Reads (oooh! Leave a comment there to help me get chosen for publication —a YA debut!) and TWENTY MILES IN and THE SUMMER CORSET on Radish Fiction. I love exploring that feeling I remember so well: wanting the independence and freedom of being out in the world, but with that not-so small part of me wanting to stay in the safe orbit of my parents as well. I never get tired of exploring this dilemma in lots of different settings. That’s the period of life – right at high school graduation time—when everything seems possible. All the doors are still open. All the choices are still left to be made, which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. No surprise I keep going back to it.
In January (so soon!), I’m also about to release my debut print novel, which is adult romantic suspense, LYING BENEATH THE OAKS. I realize this might be a wildly unpopular opinion, but to me, writing an adult heroine (in LBO, Molly is 33) and a teen heroine are much the same. It’s been years since I was a teen. I’m older now, and I have children of my own, but I feel the same inside. I react to things somewhat differently, but many of the same things make my heart sing now just as they did then. A beautiful piece of music. Christmas lights. A book to get lost in. A particularly swoonworthy kiss on TV. The glow of belonging to something. A perfect flower. A story of redemption or empowerment. The thrill of and pride in doing something well.
At the bottom, I’m here to tell you that your teenage years don’t ever really desert you. You’ll still be the same person on the inside even when you have to moisturize and fold fitted sheets. Yes, many of the excruciating moments of embarrassment will fade, and I’m sorry, your joints will never be as good, but I promise you this: a romantic story never gets old.
THE DARKEST FLOWER:
LYING BENEATH THE OAKS: