Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Romance and Young Adult Fiction: Hearts Included

One day, while rereading Captain Blood, I mentioned to my mother that what I liked most about Sabatini’s masterpiece was the way Peter Blood loved Arabella. Wistfully, I wished there were more books with love in them. Boy, did my mother have an answer for that.  She swiftly passed me a Georgette Heyer novel, and I was hooked.  It was thrilling to discover we had a whole category of books focused on love!
Now I understand even better why love works in books. Evolving relationships with their mistakes and tentative trust are a perfect way to reveal character. When I wrote my first novel, I naturally emulated what I loved to read, and I was thrilled when Mirage was picked up by Silhouette.  I went on to write half a dozen romances, including a couple of Precious Gems which led me to friendships with the lovely ladies blogging here.
These days, I write young adult science fiction, and while my characters are trying to survive harsh, post-climate change societies (Birthmarked) or evil forces that are stealing their dreams (The Vault of Dreamers), they’re also having their first experiences with love.  Firsts are huge.  A first look or kiss can transform a person.  A first betrayal can sting forever.
Caragh M. O'Brien
In my YA (young adult) novels, I have room to explore uncertainty, unexpected attractions, and confusion. I have characters who aren’t looking for love, and it isn’t clear when a guy shows up that he is The One.  I can play with conventions, like when I invented a love square in Prized. To me, the romance feels risky because happily-ever-after is not a given. I like that. It's fun. It mimics real life. The books I enjoy most delve deeply into what makes us human, hearts included, and those are the stories I'm trying to write.

16 comments:

  1. Nice post, Caragh! I definitely agree. Firsts are hugely important but I never thought of how they enter into our writing. Nice insight there! I do believe in the power of first thoughts, first words, and getting those down as soon as you can on paper. That initial energy is powerful when writing. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Maddie ~ Thanks! Firsts are all about taking chances, really, and you're right about how that applies to writing itself.
      All best,
      Caragh

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  2. Well said, Caragh. I applaude you writing for YA. They're an important readership. Second what MAddie said abour firsts.

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    1. Kathleen ~ YA is a great fit for me. The community of YA writers, readers and bloggers is diverse and welcoming, and I feel very lucky to be part of it. I suspect there's more overlap between YA readers and romance readers than we might guess. Think of Twilight.
      All best,
      Caragh

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  3. Great post, Caragh. My mom handed me Emilie Loring. A gazillion of them later, I finally figured out it was the love that drew me.

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    1. Liz ~ I know. Love, right? Sigh.
      Hugs,
      Caragh

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  4. Caragh - I got hooked on romance at a very early age, and the addiction hasn't lessened. LOL. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Hugs, Becky

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    1. Becky ~ You, too! Makes sense. My cousins and I read Harlequins all summer long when we were girls, giggling and passing them back and forth. Fun stuff.
      Best,
      Caragh

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  5. Ah, another author who found romance through Georgette Heyer! Me, too.

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    1. Cheryl ~ Georgette really was the best, wry and sweet. These days, I feel like Julia Quinn comes close to the same spirit, but with more spice.
      All best,
      Caragh

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  6. Loved your post! It's great there are so many different areas where we can write about all those "firsts".

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    1. Karen ~ Thanks! We get to feel the firsts again, too, when we're writing, which is scary and wonderful.
      All best,
      Caragh

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  7. I still have my Heyer paperbacks--old and tattered I'm afraid. Funny how romance carries us into other directions, even to science fiction a la Dystopian YA. Congrats on carving out a spot for yourself in that very popular sub-genre.

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    1. Joan ~ Thank you! I kept writing what fascinated me most, and I had no idea dystopias would become so popular. I'm grateful I've had a chance to pursue more writing ideas. I have some Heyer paperbacks, too, but not my original ones. I couldn't steal them from my mom!
      All best,
      Caragh

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  8. I still have my Heyer paperbacks--old and tattered I'm afraid. Funny how romance carries us into other directions, even to science fiction a la Dystopian YA. Congrats on carving out a spot for yourself in that very popular sub-genre.

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  9. Another Georgette Heyer lover here. I think reading her books clued me in to the fact that humor goes a long way in relationships.

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