Today I’m pleased to welcome Mya Kay to Off the Page chatting about her new book, A Song for Jordan.
Mya Kay is the author or Speechless: Short Stories and a screenwriter. She is currently a teacher in South Korea teaching English as a Second Language. You can follow her on twitter, facebook or learn more about her at her website www.myakbooks.com.
Writing Crossover Young Adult Novels
I believe that young adult novels should appeal to readers of all ages. It may not appeal to both genders, but I definitely feel it should appeal to all ages. The publishing industry says that a book is children’s, young adult or adult based on the protagonist’s age. But as an adult, I find myself more drawn to young adult books and when I was in high school, I read all adult books. As backwards as it sounds, that’s the kind of author I want to be. That no matter how old my protagonist is, I can have an adult reader as well as a teen reader. They may both get something different from it, but I think it boils down to having a great plot and strong characters, regardless of age. There are some key steps I took with my most recent release to make sure it would appeal to readers of all ages:
I didn’t point out that it was a young adult novel. Obviously for certain reasons, we mention it in our query letters and the bookstore may house it under that category for the sake of attracting your target audience. But truthfully, I think pointing it out is what makes some adults think it may be filled with immature tones. If you just write a great story around a strong character, regardless of age, I think it will appeal to all readers.
I made sure my character was mature. No matter how immature your parents try to tell you that you were when you were a teenager, you don’t have to write about an immature character. In fact, I don’t think teens even want to read about an immature character. Even in teen novels, the protagonist has a sense of maturity about them that makes them come off adult like in their teen world. They end up making their own decisions in the book. That’s why you end up rooting for them.
I didn’t leave out the adults. Adults have a place in a teen novel. This may be a matter of opinion, but at the end of the day, if your character is sixteen, there are realistically things that he/she still can’t do. Even in fiction, you have to keep some things realistic. For instance, in A Song for Jordan, Jordan needs a parent’s signature to take a summer internship. The adults in the story may not be the highlight of the story, but they actually help aid the story along.
I made sure it had sequel potential. I definitely feel like any of the adults in this book could have their own story. Honestly, in the beginning, it wasn’t mapped out that way. But as I continued to write, I wanted to make sure that should my readers want more, I would be able to give it to them from different angles. Of course, that would change whether it is YA or not, but it could still work.
My plot has two sides. Jordan isn’t the only one with a story in my novel. Jordan’s mother, Melissa, has a story as well. And readers get to read about it. They then get to see Jordan’s character in a better way. It’s only after we learn more about Melissa that we get to really understand her and Jordan’s relationship. And Melissa’s story is woven throughout the novel. It’s just not told the same way Jordan’s is. It’s definitely more ambiguous. But either way, it works for the story.
I think some of these things happened by accident for me. Once I started revising, I realized that this is exactly what I wanted. I encourage writers that write young adult books to try to appeal to adults as well. I wouldn’t recommend it if it causes you to stress or changes your whole story. But I definitely would give it a try. There are some agents who are actually looking for manuscripts like this, especially with the YA market being so tough to break into. So don’t close yourself off to just the teen market. See if your story can fly higher.
A musician who left her mother, Melissa, when she was born, Jordan longs to have a relationship with the man that gave her the gift of music. Even knowing that her grandparent’s wanted her mother to abort her and that her mother doesn’t want her to find him doesn’t stop Jordan from asking questions.
A bi-racial teen already facing the pain of being mixed in an image driven society puts her search on hold when she lands a competitive music internship in Atlanta with SyncDeep Music Group, a label run by one of her favorite musicians. For the next six weeks, Jordan gets to arrange music, play and network with some of the music industry’s biggest artists. Two weeks before the internship is over, she’s abruptly fired and finding out her mother is the reason behind her termination causes Jordan to lose all hope – until she realizes she may have just found what she’s been looking for all along.
All the lies she’s heard come to light in this gripping tale that will leave your heart wrenching for Jordan as she searches for the one thing she longs for most. A SONG FOR JORDAN will leave bitter mothers who keep their children away from their fathers feeling sorry for the pain they’ve caused.