Writerly Things 3/1/2020: How YA Authors Influenced My Writing Traci Kenworth

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Writerly Things 3/2/2020: How YA Authors Influenced My Writing

Traci Kenworth

Have you ever wondered how you came to write in a certain genre, or age group? The following is how I came to start writing YA. Pull up a chair and listen.

The first Author I can Recall Reading.

When I was growing up there was no YA market, per se. Oh, there were books for teens: Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, Judy Blume books, and various romances and horror books among others but there was no one market for YA. That came later with J.K. Rowling and others.

The first YA author of the recent years I can recall reading is Cassandre Clare and her Immortal Instruments series. Confusing, mesmerizing, it was all these things and more. It drew me in as a reader and I devoured the books in single settings. Although the years have caught up with me and I can’t read as fast as I’d like, I still feel that hook, that needle go deep and yank me into the stories. I read just about every genre within YA. I write the same.

I Had Always Assumed.

That I wrote for adults. As I said, YA wasn’t in when I began my writing career. I couldn’t quite fit into the adult market back then and nothing really clicked until I picked up YA books. The worlds. The characters. The situations. They spoke to me in a way the older markets hadn’t. They got me thinking more about worldbuilding, developing my characters, what kind of plots I could put them through. I trained my self to study them. Put in practice sessions.

I had a miserable time in both elementary and high school. Many referred to me as “Carrie.” I could never imagine that I’d find myself back among that world but here I am. I think it’s the ghost of me that didn’t quite fit in and fought so hard to get out. Now, I find myself more and more at peace with the stories I write. I write for others who are in my situation of back then. I’m not saying I write autobiography of my days of high school. No, my characters drag me into their world and show me what they’re up against and plead for me to help them out. Of course, things always get darkest beforehand.

The Biggest Teacher of YA, How to Write.

Hands down, READING! Yes, reading. Every book I’ve picked up from The Hunger Games series to Twilight to Shadow of Smoke and Bone to The Grishaverse series to Children of Blood and Bone and Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now show and appeal to me the plight of young adults. I’ve read serious. I’ve read fun. I’ve read downright awful.  I’ve read aliens and homeless teens. All of it goes inside your subconscious and comes out in your words. I’m not saying you plagiarize. No, instead the music & the instruments play together and come out on the page until a story develops. A story that just might change someone’s world in the future.

If I can help just one young person with what they’re going through, it’ll be worth it. If someday I get “too old” to write YA, well then that’ll be a sad day for me. Until then, I’ll keep churning out those stories, hoping to catch my door into the spotlight.

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