Yes, there are a TON of amazing books about teens doing awesome and extraordinary things, visiting cool worlds, slaying monsters, overthrowing corrupt governments, or going through a lot of serious and hard times, no doubt.
But . . . for me, the BEST YA books, the ones I LOVE to read the MOST, are those that have that true High School feel. The atmosphere that strikes up nostalgia and can transport you all the way back. The ones that are anchored within the halls and classrooms of high school.
As a reader, those are always the books I'm seeking to read. Before I knew that I would become a writer, I read a lot of Contemporary YA. And when I imagined being an author, I always thought I would end up writing Contemporary or realistic YA. But when I actually began writing, fantasy started creeping in (which is ironic because I seldom read Fantasy anything) and so, somewhere along the line, I realized that, you know what, I like both. So why not somehow just do both? So, I'm developing this style of blending realism with fantasy.
Even though Pretty in Black will go onward to be a fantasy, I still wanted to have that high school feel, combined with the warm fuzzies of falling in love for the first time. Not necessarily the first relationship, or first kiss, or first sexual experience, because Marcus is none of these things for Eleanor, but the first true love.
I hope I've captured that. For me, that's what the books I've been reading lately are missing. I just want to write the kind of books I want to read.
Yes, Marcus is a vampire-Evermore hybrid/demon-angel, but underneath, the book is about more than that.
I wanted it to be a blend of contemporary and fantasy, and a lot of parts read as though it were a contemporary YA about a girl on the cheerleading team who meets a guy and falls in love with him.
I think I've grown a lot as a writer and I realized that I was rushing things too much in the previous books. So now I want to linger a little longer and really draw out the high school experience and every fantasy aspect too, make it as real as possible. All of this was lacking before.
And yes, books are awesome, most definitely, but when the entire book seems like it only exists to push a contrived plot without giving us any time to get to know the characters or become familiar with the world and the rules of that world, that's pretty much where I stop reading. After realizing this, I've made some MAJOR changes in my own work.
I am beginning a new blog series this week called World Building Wednesday and I will be sharing with you the creation of the brand new Pretty in Black series and the World of Nevermore™.