Emanuel Church has a donate button on their website, if you'd like to help.

See also the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund

 

 

 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 1 of 23 123456711 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 555

Thread: Shady's Edgy YA (or sex, swearing, drinking, drugs, and violence in YA)

  1. #1
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931

    Shady's Edgy YA (or sex, swearing, drinking, drugs, and violence in YA)

    QUICK NOTE: This post was written in July, 2007. The market is not the same as it was then. "Edgy" is not the buzzword it once was. But there are always new writers coming in asking what they can do in YA, so this is still relevant.

    All right, I'm writing this on request, and I'm generally awful at writing long posts, so stick with me here.

    Edgy YA is defined, for the purposes of this post, as a young adult book that your average adult would not want their child to read.

    Consider how this has changed through the years. In 1951, people were shocked by the language in Catcher in the Rye. Even today, there is controversy between parents and schools when Catcher is taught as part of the school year. (And, in my opinion, not nearly enough of this backlash is about the book's being, well, crap. It's about the semantics--the language, the rebellion, the anti-establishment atmosphere.)

    1967--My absolute hero, sixteen-year-old S.E. Hinton, is sick of reading the mid-century equivalent of Gossip Girls (in her words, books like "Mary Jane Goes to The Prom") and writes a little novel called The Outsiders. This book was written by a teenager, and yet parents still protested that this was something teenagers should not be reading. Murder, gang warfare, cigarette and alcohol use...and people freaked out.

    But it was real. It was Miss Hinton's life. She watched a friend of hers get jumped by the rich kids at her school, and she wrote about it. And the parents in her town insisted that The Outsiders was inappropriate for their children.

    Are you sensing the irony?

    If you listen to nothing else that I say, listen to this: If you are trying to write true, honest, controversial young adult books, it's good to read Catcher in the Rye. It's good to read The Outsiders.

    But you have to read Smack.

    http://www.amazon.com/Smack-Melvin-B...4952566&sr=8-1

    Smack is the modern edgy YA. Smack is heroin, alcohol, sex, rape, abortion, prostitution, racism, vandalism, idealism.

    Smack is the scariest and most controversial book I've ever read.

    But it's out there. And it's sold fantasticly.

    And for every Smack, there's a Martyn Pig, or a Sins of the Fathers, or a Be More Chill, or a The Road of the Dead, or Under the Wolf, Under the Dog, or Doing It, or Little Chicago, or Go Ask Alice, or Rainbow Boys, or every single other book I've hidden from my parents on the walk between the shelves and the cash register, because I knew if they saw those covers, or read those jacket flap, I'd be faced with a "HELL, no."

    I'm sixteen. I know what teenagers want, and I know what adults don't want.

    So this is why I get confused when I see these threads full of people worrying that their books are too controversial to sell because they're not pretty-girl-trips-to-the-mall. And I get confused when I read that there are no good YA books out there, that they're all shallow and formulaic.

    Are you kidding?

    Where are you looking?

    Look for Chris Lynch. Look for Francesca Lia Block. Look for S.E. Hinton. Look for Adam Rapp. Look for Marvin Burgess. Look for any book with an interesting title or an interesting cover. Look for anything published by PUSH.

    I can't give you a list of agents or publishers looking for edgy YA. My only book that's been accepted is relatively tame, to be honest. But, look, those books are out there. Those writers aren't burned at the stake. They're winning awards. They're winning readers.

    This isn't all bullshit. And YA books aren't all bullshit, either.
    Last edited by Shady Lane; 05-21-2011 at 01:15 AM. Reason: Had to add a few more books.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  2. #2
    aka cupcake reenkam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    19,090
    I completely agree with everything said.

    And I want to second the suggestion to look for anything published by PUSH.

    Excellent post, Shady.
    Roskoe's Original Peep @ thebomb.org

  3. #3
    bam pow zap. Esopha's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Magic America
    Posts
    12,665
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I can't say how many times I've bitten my tongue while reading the threads where people question whether the YA audience can handle something as simple as rape or teenage pregancy or -gasp- drug use.

    This is my school:
    Everybody smokes pot. Everybody drinks. Crack and cocaine are common. There are at least five girls who are pregnant. There are gangs (sort of) and violence and all sorts of other wonderfully stupid things going on that make you despair for the fate of humanity.

    My school is probably the safest, prissiest, my-daddy-owns-a-bigger-yacht-than-your-daddy high school in the country.

    Please, please, please don't assume that young adults can't handle real life. Because that's what drugs, sex and violence is. Real life.

    And that's all. (Go Shady!)
    See my blog!
    I'm also on Twitter!

  4. #4
    yes Nakhlasmoke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Wicked Little Town
    Posts
    11,791
    Thanks Shady. Cool post.
    I need to go read some of these titles. I wonder then where the idea that stuff mustn't be controversial comes from - is it from agents?

  5. #5
    I record everything. The_Grand_Duchess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bangkok, the Underground and the Holy ground.
    Posts
    647
    Push by Saphire was the scariest most contriversal book I've ever read. Although Smack was awesome as well.

    Good post.

    The Grand Duchess of Biscuitshire. . . respect.

    Down but never out.

    . . . ROBOTS???




  6. #6
    here's to the girl on the go Harper K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    545
    *standing ovation*

    So this is why I get confused when I see these threads full of people worrying that their books are too controversial to sell because they're not pretty-girl-trips-to-the-mall. And I get confused when I read that there are no good YA books out there, that they're all shallow and formulaic.
    Argh! Me too! My husband gets stuck listening to me rant about this at least once a week. It seems that anytime I find a new writing community, whether online or in person (I go to conferences, and I belong to a local writers organization), people always bring up questions about YA that make my eyes bulge out of my head. "I heard you can't use swear words in YA. Is that true?" "Is it okay to have kids drinking in YA books?" "I heard it's okay to talk about kids drinking, but if they're actually drinking, you won't get your book published." Say what? I was a squeaky-clean kid in middle school and high school, but that didn't mean that I wanted to read about kids exactly like myself. I didn't then, and, ten years later, I still don't. I don't write about them either.

    Adults handicapping themselves with the excuse that they aren't teenagers anymore doesn't work for me either. Hit up the YA section at the library. Start with A. Read to Z. There'll be books to hate and books to love, fluff books and super-serious books, formulaic books and experimental books and everything in between... just like in any other section of the library.

    I LOVE when I meet -- in person -- another adult who can ramble on and on about YA books with me. But it's so rare! At the last conference I went to, among all the aspiring writers of pink-covered books, I met this one woman, a 70-year-old retired teacher, who was a huge fan of edgy YA suspense novels. We sat in a corner and ate cookies and talked about YA books for ages. 'Twas wonderful. Wish I could relive that.

    Cheers to the other edgy YA writers out there.
    The Center of Gravity, redux (YA contemp), final final FINAL version!:
    62,000 / 65,000 words



  7. #7
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    Well said, Satori. And thank you.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  8. #8
    Prodigal Muser althrasher's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    2,996
    You know, I think like that sometimes too. I really enjoy reading the books that most people would shy away from. But part of me wonders if that may be because I'm a bit twisted myself. I mean, really, do most people want to read something edgy? Or just those of us with dark pasts and imaginations?

    Just a thought. (And I'm still going to write it, regardless )

  9. #9
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    I've yet to meet a sixteen-year-old who doesn't have a twisted past, not to mention a twisted imagination.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  10. #10
    Still Happy to be Here. Or Anywhere Kate Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sunny SoCal
    Posts
    2,809
    I know lots of sixteen-year-olds without twisted pasts, but I don't know a single one without a twisted imagination.

    The books you mention - the edgier books (I have to laugh about S.E. Hinton - I worked in a public library when her books first came out - we couldn't keep 'em on the shelves!) are certainly available and popular.

    But not all the teens I know even read. Sigh. I'd rather see them with anything than nothing (including S. E. Hinton's latest - childrens books - or Dan Brown, or Harry Potter or Tom Clancy)

    Maybe Robert Cormier ("I Am the Cheese") could tempt them...Shady, have you read that?

  11. #11
    I record everything. The_Grand_Duchess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bangkok, the Underground and the Holy ground.
    Posts
    647
    Quote Originally Posted by Kate Thornton View Post
    Maybe Robert Cormier ("I Am the Cheese") could tempt them...Shady, have you read that?

    I'm not Shady (Or am I? Hmmm. . .) but that was a very good book.

    The Grand Duchess of Biscuitshire. . . respect.

    Down but never out.

    . . . ROBOTS???




  12. #12
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    Maybe Robert Cormier ("I Am the Cheese") could tempt them...Shady, have you read that?
    Nope, but I will.

    I know lots of sixteen-year-olds without twisted pasts, but I don't know a single one without a twisted imagination.
    Hmm, I daresay you're not digging deep enough.

    I'm not Shady (Or am I? Hmmm. . .)
    For your peace of mind, I sincerely hope not.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW JLCwrites's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Pacific NW
    Posts
    3,075
    (Grabbing pencil, writing down PUSH and Smack) Thanks for the info. I am currently speeding my way through a RD of a YA that has a lot of violence. I was thinking of reading Stephen King before working on the SD to develop a better way to create suspense and fear in the reader. If you have any more YA examples, I would love to read them too.

    Great post by the way!
    Last edited by JLCwrites; 07-21-2007 at 03:21 AM.
    Blog Suburbageek You can also find Suburbageek on Facebook

    Tweeting


    Short Stories Published

    "Teleporter" in What If: Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories by ReadMe Publishing

    "Unlocked" in No Rest for the Wicked by Rainstorm Press

  14. #14
    figuring it all out greywaren's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    67
    Yeah great post!!! I don't know what irritates me more - someone asking me if their book fits in YA WITHOUT HAVING READ ANY YA or when someone says, "Oh, you write for kids?"

    Grrr . . . these are the same people who talk down to kids in their books and in person.
    LAMENT, my YA urban fantasy, comes out from Flux Fall 2008 - whoo hoo!!

    my writing blog - my artistic and mostly humorous blog

  15. #15
    Crypto-fascist Soccer Mom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Under your couch
    Posts
    18,609
    I think a lot of people (especially those new to writing) don't understand the distinction between MG and YA and the "tween" stuff.
    <clickety to see my books


    Join us for the Absolute Write-in #AWritein

    Marguerite Says...Microwave Peanut Butter Fudge

    I also Twitter & Facebook

    People think Iím disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference ~Luciano Pavarotti

  16. #16
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    Quote Originally Posted by Soccer Mom View Post
    I think a lot of people (especially those new to writing) don't understand the distinction between MG and YA and the "tween" stuff.
    You're absolutely right, and it's really a problem. YA is so much closer to adult than MG. I'm thrilled that there's a tween category developing...because right now the gap is sort of unpleasent.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  17. #17
    Crypto-fascist Soccer Mom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Under your couch
    Posts
    18,609
    Yeah, I'm pitching my stuff as MG, but it's really tween. Edgier than your typical MG, but truly not YA.
    <clickety to see my books


    Join us for the Absolute Write-in #AWritein

    Marguerite Says...Microwave Peanut Butter Fudge

    I also Twitter & Facebook

    People think Iím disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference ~Luciano Pavarotti

  18. #18
    drying and defragging... licity-lieu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    up s**t creek without a paddle
    Posts
    415
    Shady, you're totally on the money! I spent my childhood hiding books like Go Ask Alice under my bed. Actually, my mum found that book and confiscated it! My reading diet was questionable for that age--The shining at 12 for example. We read S.E Hinton and Salinger as school texts so I never quite felt like they were rebellious enough. My faves (shows my age ) where Paul Zindle and Robert Cormier. I am the Cheese is a cracker but you should also read After the First Death--awesome! Overall though, I read a stack of adult novels because there never seemed to be enough edgy stuff out there.

    On one level it surprises me that the fantasy market, for example, is so huge, but then again I'm not that puzzled because this genre presents an escape for kids. I teach severely troubled teens. The ones who like to read don't want to read about other kid's who have crazy lives because they live it themselves. Having said that, my kids represent about 1% of the population, if that. I guess, in the end, it all comes down to the financial. Many writers don't want to pour 2 years into a book if it's not going to sell due to it's content. Much easier to hit on a variaton of the mainstream (a la Harry Potter) and hope for success.

    I say all the way with edgy, Shady. Maybe it'll be you who writes the next big one!

    ETA: I read an article on the weekend. The author being interviewed (Pat Barker) said that you should ask yourself 'what is the book you would write if you knew it would never be published'. Now that's liberating!!!
    Last edited by licity-lieu; 07-23-2007 at 01:30 AM.
    - Licity -

    it's what I do


    In need of a semi-colonic irrigation
    BUT...

    ...Am hip... to the ellipsis...

    My excuse? Scorpio sans trines. That's what!

    - chop wood;carry water -

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Danger Jane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Rome
    Posts
    7,923
    Word.

    (btw, everyone that even mentions the book Go Ask Alice gets a rep since the title is from White Rabbit)

    I write fantasy, but it is definitely not Harry Potter derived, and I don't think I would call it escapist. It's not exactly edgy, but I didn't tone things down because I didn't think my peers could handle it.

    By the age of around sixteen, practically everyone is ready to read the same edgy stuff as adults. But I guess since we suddenly hit this I WANT EDGY phase-thing, we want MORE edgy than adults. And we're generally old enough to handle it.*

    *my sixteen year old sister didn't know what pot was until I told her a year or two ago

  20. #20
    Surfin' Storm Surge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Lost
    Posts
    291
    I started reading adult books before I was ten, and yeah, sure there's a lot of adult books I wouldn't like to read because of content, but then the same is true for YA. (I have enough teenage angst to deal with in real life without having to read about it too!) Any kid can go to the library and get out an adult book and read it. How can parents expect to keep their children from what they consider inappropriate content by keeping it out of YA?
    By the way, Shady, what do you mean exactly by "a twisted past"? I'm wondering if I have one.

  21. #21
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    Quote Originally Posted by Storm Surge View Post
    I started reading adult books before I was ten, and yeah, sure there's a lot of adult books I wouldn't like to read because of content, but then the same is true for YA. (I have enough teenage angst to deal with in real life without having to read about it too!) Any kid can go to the library and get out an adult book and read it. How can parents expect to keep their children from what they consider inappropriate content by keeping it out of YA?
    By the way, Shady, what do you mean exactly by "a twisted past"? I'm wondering if I have one.
    If you're wondering...chances are you do. Just your general psychological warfare, most likely.

    And you're absolutely right. Besides, once a kid hits 14 or so, it's time for parents to stop trying to control what they read.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  22. #22
    figuring it all out greywaren's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    67
    Can I have a twisted past!? Pretty please?
    LAMENT, my YA urban fantasy, comes out from Flux Fall 2008 - whoo hoo!!

    my writing blog - my artistic and mostly humorous blog

  23. #23
    aka cupcake reenkam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    19,090
    Am I the only one that didn't hide books in my room or anything? I just bought and read whatever I wanted. My mom never cared. Actually, my aunt got in a fight with my elementary school librarian because she told me I shouldn't read Stephen King.
    Roskoe's Original Peep @ thebomb.org

  24. #24
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    I had to hide 'em. I still do, actually.
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW Melanie Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pluto
    Posts
    169
    *my sixteen year old sister didn't know what pot was until I told her a year or two ago
    Wow.

    Awesome post, Shady.

    And people wonder why some teenagers don't read... it never occurs to them that it's because they can say the plot to most YA books backwards and fowards. "Rich chick wants snotty boyfriend to ask her to the dance but rich snotty so and so won't let her and blah blah blah" or "halb halb halb dna reh tel t'now os dna os yttons hcir tub ecnad eht ot reh ksa ot dneirfyob yttons stnaw kcihc hcir'

    I don't have to read edgy YA when school's in session. I'm lucky (or is it unlucky?). I sit at my lunch table and watch as drug dealers, gang members, and kids carrying concealed are arrested by undercover cops (who are stupid. They keep their handcuffs in their jeans pockets, so you can always tell lol.). I watch drug deals, hear about rapes, watch fights, and hand out pamphlets on options to my friends who have gotten pregnant - whether they consented to have sex or not. It's just a fact of life. *shrugs*

    But in my opinion, kids/teenagers need to know what's out there in the 'real' world if they don't have good examples already. If we're sheltered with all these snotty YA 'omg he left me, the prom queen' books, all we'll ever care about is the new Louis Vitton line.
    Last edited by Melanie Lane; 07-24-2007 at 08:28 AM.
    "Remember, you are unique, just like everybody else!"


    Novels

    TF (formerly TA, TO, TAO, etc. plus two sequels). 87,000

    Status: Rejection Land


    WIPs

    The Nosundays: 2,000/????

Page 1 of 23 123456711 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search