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View Full Version : Fantasy = children's fiction?



azbikergirl
04-22-2005, 05:03 AM
Maybe it's just MY writing, but when I receive a critique from someone who has never read fantasy before, they always (and I mean always) presume that I'm writing for a YA or children's market, despite the fact that my hero drinks alcohol, kills people, has sexual encounters, and cusses. Is this common in YA/children's fiction??? (gads!)

Does anyone have a feel for what percentage of published fantasy novels are written specifically for the YA/children's market?

soloset
04-22-2005, 05:56 AM
Maybe it's just MY writing, but when I receive a critique from someone who has never read fantasy before, they always (and I mean always) presume that I'm writing for a YA or children's market, despite the fact that my hero drinks alcohol, kills people, has sexual encounters, and cusses. Is this common in YA/children's fiction??? (gads!)

Does anyone have a feel for what percentage of published fantasy novels are written specifically for the YA/children's market?

Blame Harry Potter -- I do. :D

Since HP came out I've noticed several of my favorite fantasy novels vanishing from the main area of the bookstore and re-appearing with cuter covers in the children's section. As far as percentages go, I have no idea -- but I know that for a while there, the only place to find fantasy was in the children's section.

Not to mention that fantasy/sci-fi is still somewhat fringe -- many, many people have been exposed to sci-fi/fantasy via Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and that's it.

As to drinking alcohol, swearing, etc., when I was a kid I found novels by Green, Chalker, Heinlein, etc., shelved in the children's section of our library. And people wonder why I'm so weird today.

Zolah
04-22-2005, 01:39 PM
Eh, don't worry about it. People who don't read fantasy or science fiction often make strange assumptions about the genre ('There's no elves in this! It can't be fantasy without elves!'). As SF and F writers we have to face the fact that our audience (while made up of some of the best fans in the world) is limited because of the stigma attached to the genre. Never mind. If your work is successful the publisher will slap an arty cover or a 'magic realism' label on it and suddenly it'll be literary and all those assumptions will fade away...

Shiny_Penguin
04-22-2005, 05:55 PM
Lately I've been wondering if there is anything but fantasy in YA and kids. I was at B&N and all the displays in the kids section were fantasy. I was at a book fair and my kids' school yesterday and I'd say 95% of the chapter books were fantasy.

azbikergirl
04-22-2005, 06:18 PM
Gosh, my niece and nephew love horror, such as Goosebumps. Is Nancy Drew still around? I don't have kids, so I never go to those sections!

Christine N.
04-22-2005, 06:21 PM
And what's not fantasy is historical fiction. LOL I can't complain, I write middle grade fantasy.

Never fear, Judy Blume is still churning out great books for kids.

HConn
04-22-2005, 08:25 PM
Nancy Drew was just released in a graphic novel. V. modern.

People have been calling fantasy a genre for children ever since the Victorian age. Grownups are supposed to read mimetic fiction--escapism is for kids, right?

Whatever. Someone who doesn't understand that fantasy is for grownups, too, should not be a fantasy writer's beta.

victoriastrauss
04-22-2005, 09:20 PM
Blame Harry Potter -- I do.One of the first questions people ask me when they find out I'm a fantasy writer is "Have you read the Harry Potter books?" Then they often say something like "But I don't normally read that stuff."

- Victoria

HConn
04-22-2005, 11:00 PM
An old friend of my wife's came through town a couple years back, and while chatting over BBQ, I told him a very little bit about the book I was writing, a contemporary fantasy.

He asked: "But is it a book for adults who read like adults? Or for adults who read like children?"

We haven't had him back.

azbikergirl
04-22-2005, 11:33 PM
This person is in my WD Novel Writing class. The students crit each other, in addition to getting feedback from the instructor. He's the same guy who suggested I change
"Slipped," she said shyly, averting her eyes.

to ...averting HIS eyes.

um... o-o-o-o-oka-a-a-a-ay.

:D

fallenangelwriter
04-23-2005, 12:59 AM
I suspect the kiddie image of fantasy has something to do with its co-genre, sci-fi.

at my library, i tend to find mroe fantasy than sci-fi in YA fantasy-sci-fi, and mroe sci-fi than fantasy in the adult section. of course, this isn't a matter of 90-10 and 10-90, but more a 65-45 or 45-65 split.

as for the content of your story, I suppose what is allowed is YA is gradually increasing. i have the opposite problem. i'd like my stories to be taken seriously by an adult audience, but i'm sure they'd be marketed as YA. after all, i'm a young adult writing stories more or less devoid of profanity and sex.

oh well, at least i still have violence.

whitehound
04-23-2005, 07:28 PM
One of our local bookshops in Edinburgh stuck Walt Wangerin Jnr's The Book of the Dun Cow and The Book of Sorrows in the children's section, because they had talking animals in. The Book of Sorrows is so horrible and sad and brooding that reading it made me feel (in my mid 30s at the time) as if I was having a breakdown and I had to give up on it - but it's talking animals, so it must be for kids.

spacejock2
05-10-2005, 03:50 PM
I suspect the kiddie image of fantasy has something to do with its co-genre, sci-fi.

And I think it's because most adults will happily read 'made up' stories when the setting is realistic (thriller, murder, romance, whatever. Wait, did I say romance? :-)) but once the realism slips you're asking them to enter a made up world to hear a made up story, which is something normal adults just don't do. Ergo (says their brain) books with made up worlds are kiddie stuff.

Yes, there are zap-kerpow SF books, just as there are mind-numbing romance books, boring thrillers and cookie-cutter murder mysteries. Each genre has high and low water marks, and you have to read a fair old cross-section before writing the whole lot off as kiddie krud.

Cheers
Simon

Pencilone
05-10-2005, 04:10 PM
He asked: "But is it a book for adults who read like adults? Or for adults who read like children?"

We haven't had him back.


:roll::ROFL: :roll: :ROFL::roll:
Oh, that was such a good laugh! Please call him back for more!

Roger J Carlson
05-16-2005, 11:47 PM
Lately I've been wondering if there is anything but fantasy in YA and kids. I was at B&N and all the displays in the kids section were fantasy. I was at a book fair and my kids' school yesterday and I'd say 95% of the chapter books were fantasy.Interesting you should ask. I've been tracking YA sales in Publisher's Marketplace for the last 6 months. I've been trying to sell a YA SF novel and I wanted to see what was being published. Here's what I've found of the 94 total YA books that have sold:

YA Chic Lit: 50
Fantasy: 24
Mystery: 6
SF: 7
Other: 7

The Chic Lit can be summed up as "anger and angst in high school" and oddly, some of these have male protagonists. Fantasy includes some "urban fantasy/vampires in highschool", which borders on Chic Lit.

whitehound
05-17-2005, 01:57 AM
Wot no ponies? [Or does the sub-category Horse Stories not exist wherever you are?]

whitehound
05-17-2005, 02:08 AM
Blame Harry Potter -- I do. :D

Since HP came out I've noticed several of my favorite fantasy novels vanishing from the main area of the bookstore and re-appearing with cuter covers in the children's section. As far as percentages go, I have no idea -- but I know that for a while there, the only place to find fantasy was in the children's section.Btw, I don't know if it's so in the US, but over here in the UK it rather works the other way - the shops have big window-displays of Harry Potter re-issued in special cool-look grown-up covers so adults don't have to feel embarrassed when caught reading him on the train.

Roger J Carlson
05-17-2005, 03:58 PM
Wot no ponies? [Or does the sub-category Horse Stories not exist wherever you are?]Looking at the log-lines of the books, I don't see any mention of horses.

BTW, if anyone is interested in seeing the list, I've attached it here. You can make your own determination of categories.

Birol
05-17-2005, 06:43 PM
Btw, I don't know if it's so in the US, but over here in the UK it rather works the other way - the shops have big window-displays of Harry Potter re-issued in special cool-look grown-up covers so adults don't have to feel embarrassed when caught reading him on the train.

When I first heard of the HP books, it was in a TIME Magazine article talking about this phenomena. Here in the States, to the best of my knowledge, the HP books have just the one cover, but the artwork is all on the dust jacket, so I suppose, if you're embarrassed, you could take that off. By the time HP reached the States, though, it was already a mainstream marketing sensation, so no one really thought much of adults reading a so-called children's book.

katee
05-18-2005, 12:49 AM
Btw, I don't know if it's so in the US, but over here in the UK it rather works the other way - the shops have big window-displays of Harry Potter re-issued in special cool-look grown-up covers so adults don't have to feel embarrassed when caught reading him on the train.

Same here in Australia - bright coloured covers for the kiddies, black and white 'serious' covers for the grown-ups.

The bright coloured books come out first, though. I like my sets of books to match on the bookshelf, so I own the kiddie versions.

whitehound
05-18-2005, 01:59 AM
All these different editions! Here, the "grown-up" and kids' versions come out almost simultaneously - maybe a week or two apart I think - but the kiddie cover is afaik printed on the book itself, as well as on the dust-jacket.

azbikergirl
05-22-2005, 06:04 AM
Lately I've been reading a number of fantasy stories with talking animals as characters. For some reason, I think "children's" whenever regular animals can talk. Made-up animals can talk and I won't automatically presume the story is for YA or kids.

whitehound
05-22-2005, 12:35 PM
That's why Waterstones stuck The Book of the Dun Cow and The Book of Sorrows in the children's section. But they are entirely adult books about sex and death and the nature of evil. The Book of Sorrows centres around the hero of the previous book becoming slowly more corrupt and turning into a Stalinist dictator, and forcing one of his servants to help him to massacre a little family of political dissidents, and that servant gradually going mad because at every turn he can still feel the bones of a baby's skull crunch as he hit them.

Btw, does anybody know what the weird little character is that's appeared at the beginning of this message? It happened when I was having some trouble with my mouse, and I can't delete it because it's invisible in the Edit window.

Pthom
05-24-2005, 12:29 AM
Btw, does anybody know what the weird little character is that's appeared at the beginning of this message? It happened when I was having some trouble with my mouse, and I can't delete it because it's invisible in the Edit window.Do you mean the thing that looks like a piece of paper that's been typed on (or the smiley face at the beginning of this post)?That's a "post icon." They appear below the compose window if you reply using the quote (or if using the quick reply function, the 'go advanced') feature.

You can remove it (or change it) by editing your post and making sure the 'no icon' radio button is marked.