Why I write YA

Why do I write YA?

Well…

Um…

My dance gurlz made me do it.

Really, they did.

When I was in high school I wanted to write for teens because that was what I knew, lol. But when I started writing, I wasn't writing YA, I was trying writing urban fantasy (and yes, that early stuff was *trying*. Apparently books need plots.)

I'm a competitive Irish Dancer. Because there are no adult classes in my area I take the teen class. When I started writing seriously, I let the older teens beta read my stuff. They were clever, thoughtful, and had excellent ideas.

But one of the younger girls was jealous because I wouldn't let her read anything because she was only twelve. Thus the campaign for me to write a book for *her* started.

I think she bugged be for six months. My argument was that I had no idea what to write. I didn’t want to write YA because I didn’t think of myself as a “teen writer.” I wanted to write for adults.

The gurlz didn’t buy it,

They brought me books (including ones by authors who also wrote for adults.) They gave me plot points. They told me what swear words I couldn't use and verbally narrated examples of YA love scenes. "He kissed me hard..." still echoes in my head to this day and I wish I would have caught that on my phone.

This was all in dance class mind you, lol.

I gave up halfway through the manuscript. I felt out of my league and out of my comfort zone. I obsessed about the “rules” and what I could and couldn’t do. I figured I wasn't cut out to write YA. It was just too hard to keep that balance. I knew where I wanted the story to go, but my characters wouldn't budge.

She continued to bug me, twice a week, for six months.

One day the characters started stalking me. Finally I sat down and pounded out the other half of the book in about two weeks. I found that if I forgot about “the rules” and permitted myself out of my comfort zone, then the words just flowed and suddenly, my characters cooperated.

I also discovered that I just might actually like this who YA thing.

The look on her face when I walked into class and handed her the giant ms was priceless. (It was 118k, lol, and was raw...like I finished it and didn't read through it at all before I gave it to her.)

She and the other gurlz helped me cut it and make it interesting. Heck, they're still helping me revise it a year and a half later. I never would have started shopping it if they hadn't threatened to do it for me. They found me agents to submit it to (by reading the acknowledgments pages of books they like) and contests to enter, they wanted their book published. Someone even offered to read all my rejection letters for me.

Then, they made me write another YA book.

Okay, that didn’t require much arm twisting. I was discovering that writing for teens was as much or even more fun that writing for adults and challenging in an entirely different way.

The second YA manuscript was the book I sold. That, too, was carefully workshopped in dance class. You should have heard the cheers when I told them about my sale. These gurlz are my biggest fans. They bring me chocolate and send me text message pep talks. They listen to my plot problems and make sure my stories don't sound "old." The come up with marketing plans and dram cast the movies. They won't let me give up and without them I just might have.

I still hope that I can sell that first book one day. It's gone through quite a lot of changes, and probably will go through more. I'd love to sell it because I wrote it for them, and they've invested years of their life in that story right along with me.

Right now they're planning my release party for the book that sold--apparently we're having ice cream, lol. Oh, and they have the marketing campaign all mapped out for my next project I have yet to really start--which will be about Irish Dancers (of course, lol).

So why do I write YA?

My dancers made me do it and every day I'm grateful for it.

6 comments:

Lisa Kessler said...

Your dance gurlz ROCK!!! :)

And when your book comes out they better tell all their friends to buy a copy!!! :)

Lisa

Kalayna Price said...

Okay, so I was totally charmed by this story and went looking for more information about you and your book, but there isn't any information anywhere obvious! Nothing in your sidebar on your blog, and you don't appear to have a website. Your girls' marketing plan needs to include at least the name of the book somewhere. Potential readers want to know. ^_^

-k

Suzanne Lazear said...

Kaylana, you are so right. I'm so new to this I don't even have a website yet. My book, Innocent Darkness, comes out from Flux in 2012. I just added it to the sidebar. Thanks for pointing it out, lol.

Ladonna said...

That is a really sweet story. I'm glad you write YA, because you are very good at it. Don't you need to send a letter to that teacher ....

Suzanne Lazear said...

Lisa--the other day they were mumbling about a "blog squad" and school visits

Ladonna--yes, I have two english teachers and a science teacher to send nice letters to. I should get on that, lol. Also, would it be unprofessional to send an ARC to my HS guidance counselor autographed with a snarky note, lol (like, see, I did too become published)

Kristen said...

I love it. :) Now, can you bug me to write you a story? (I kid.)