I am moderating a panel at the New England Crime Bake this weekend. It is called “High School Murder: Writing the Young Adult Mystery”. My panelists are Peter Abrahams, Beth Kanell, Kate Burak and Kim Harrington. The idea behind the panel is that YA (Young Adult) fiction is very “hot” right now, so let’s learn from people who do it well.
In many ways I am an ideal moderator for this panel. I don’t write YA fiction. And I don’t read it very much. I read the Harry Potters. But the Hunger Games trilogy has been on my Kindle for a while now (much to the dismay of my nephew). As a moderator, my goal is to highlight my panelists, and to drive a conversation. I can do that. For this panel, I have done my homework–I have read at least one book by each of the panelists. And with an eye to craft (rather than pure enjoyment), I am looking forward to the conversation on Saturday.
In my opinion, the books I have read work for three reasons:
First, they are all well written.
Second, the story is right on target for the audience (in this case high school readers), with themes of bullying, fitting in, peer pressure, and having a trait or habit that makes you stand out.
And third, and perhaps most importantly, none of these books pander to readers. I felt engaged, and I am WAY past the target age.
I don’t believe in pre-loading questions to my panel. And I also want this to be a conversation that is helpful to the audience. (Crime Bake is geared to writers, though readers also attend. It is about craft.) But I am intrigued about why/how they chose to write YA fiction and what are the challenges of writing in that genre. I’d also like their insights on why this is such a popular genre right now.
I will report back on the panel, and let you know what I learn. If you are interested in the genre, Beth Kanell has written a wonderful series of posts on the Sisters in Crime New England blog. And if you have a question you’d like to ask, let me know in the comments!
NANOWRIMO update. I am writing. At this pace I won’t hit the goal, but I am writing. A few of you have made me your buddies (I am CozyGal)–not sure what all this means, but I am going to keep going. How are my other NaNoWriMoers doing?
J.A. Hennrikus is the president of Sisters in Crime New England, and a mystery writer.