What it’s like for a guy author writing in the YA market
The one thing I never thought about when I started writing for the Young Adult market was whether, as a guy, I would be treated differently than the multitude of amazing and highly talented female writers that dominate the scene. As it turns out, I not only should have thought about it, I should have expected it.
Even for the first few months after my first book, Angel Evolution, was published, I was just sort of coasting along, chatting on message boards about the books I love to read, meeting awesome, insightful, and supportive women, without really realizing the absence of testosterone in the virtual book club environment that is Goodreads. Well duh? you’re probably saying, what did you expect? Most YA readers are females (although I suspect there are many many guys who for whatever reason—perhaps fearing mockery from their friends, who of course also read YA books in the privacy of their rooms under candlelight—are hesitant to come out of the “YA closet”, as I like to call it), so it’s not surprising that a guy would stick out like a cardinal in a flock of bluebirds, or a dancing penguin in a community of singing penguins (yes, Happy Feet is one of my favorite movies and coincidentally has been one of my nicknames due to my sometimes embarrassing tendency toward dancing in public places where I’m the only one dancing), or perhaps a rooster in a henhouse, as the title of this post suggests. Whatever the case, I’ve been asked so many times what it’s like to be a male author writing YA books that I can’t even count. So here’s my chance to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, Cassandra Clare, and all the other awesome female YA writers, about what it’s like to be a male author in this market.
My answer: it’s awesome!
I’m tempted to just end the guest post on that note because I thrive on positive energy, but I fear Allie would have my head and possibly refuse to publish this post, so I will soldier on.
So why is it so awesome? For one, I get to spend hours on end talking about books with some of the coolest girls and women around, who I have so much in common with, and who love to read as much as I do. What’s not to like? Don’t get me wrong, I’m an oh-so-happily married man (my wife, Adele is my absolute soul mate and so supportive of my career), but for some reason I just tend to click with women well, potentially because I am rather emotional for a guy (maybe to a fault sometimes). So by connecting with my female readers, I feel so fulfilled and happy and appreciated, that I forget all about the male minority writer thing, and just focus on one thing: writing the best possible books filled with the most emotion possible. On a side note, I’m seeing more and more male YA writers and readers pop up, which is cool, too!
That leads to the next thing I love about the genre. Writing with emotion. While all books require a certain degree of emotion, I feel that YA books require an extra push, particularly because the readers are mostly females, or guys who love a little romance mixed with action. For that reason, I have to dig down into the deepest and darkest recesses of my soul and try to pull out the most powerful emotions I have, and then pour them into my writing like brownie batter into a baking pan (yep, I’m a chocoholic, too, which I get from my mom, another awesome woman). With my first YA novel, Angel Evolution, I think I came up short in the emotion department, and although I wrote a unique and fast-paced novel, I had some reviewers tell me “Give us more emotion!” So for the second and third books in the trilogy, Demon Evolution and Archangel Evolution, respectively, I did my best to do just that, and my readers really seemed to appreciate it, and I enjoyed the writing experience so much more.
So that brings me to my latest novel, The Moon Dwellers, a YA dystopian book about love and fate and honor and family. With this book, I committed myself to pouring my heart into the story, developing characters who I loved as much as my own family members, and entertaining my readers. I must say, the experience was life-changing. Although I’m usually my worst critic, I can honestly say I’m completely satisfied with the result and have been so pleased that many of my readers have publicly stated how much I improved as a writer in this book. To me, that’s the epitome of what it’s like for a male writing YA books: If you show that you value and respect the differences between men and women, while embracing the similarities, you’ll get the undying support of female and male readers alike. In my opinion, YA books are the best in the world and have so much to offer people of all ages, myself included. I’ll be reading and writing them until the day I die.
A special thanks to Allie for giving me (and my wackiness) the chance to come on her blog and talk about a serious topic in a not too serious and casual way. I hope you all get the chance to read The Moon Dwellers, which is now available everywhere ebooks are sold or in print via Amazon.com (links below). Also, I pledged when I started writing to always respond to my readers, and I love getting comments and questions, so please contact me using one of my favorite social networking sites below. As always, happy reading!!
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Where you can buy The Moon Dwellers: