Last weekend I finally got around to watching the film Young Adult. The title of this post is a quote from the film, the context is this:
Buddy: “Mavis, I’m a married man.”
Mavis: “I know we can beat this thing, together.”
The film is about a ghostwriter of a previously popular YA series that’s now being cancelled (I imagined Sweet Valley High obv) called Mavis who heads back to her hometown convinced she belongs with her high school sweetheart Buddy despite the fact he’s married with a new baby. It’s a dark comedy and I really enjoyed it but be warned Mavis is not a likeable character – selfish and insensitive and likely an alcoholic. She also can’t get high school out of her head.
It got me thinking about us YA writers – we are writing about teenagers for teenagers and I can see how you can get stuck in your past as you remember things that happened to you at that age or write a book about things you wish had happened to you. Mavis as a character is of course extreme and I’m sure no YA writer is that mean (well, I hope not) but watching her lying on the sofa with the Kardashian’s on in the background and her writing not going anywhere, I did catch a little glimpse of myself She also has a little dog that I want …
But for me writing YA is fun. I love reading it. I like writing and reading about the thrill of a first kiss, falling in love for the first time, overcoming bad situations, finding yourself. There are no limits. Thinking about my book I don’t think there is much of my teenage years in there (although it is set in the part of the world I live) but maybe I write the kind of book I would have wanted to read when I was a teenager. And the kind of one I want to read now as an “adult”. More adults read YA than teenagers and maybe it’s because we are all nostalgic for our earlier years, maybe we don’t want to grow up or maybe whatever age you are, you want to fall in love with stories and characters whatever shape and age they come.
And even though us YA writers spend a lot of time in the world of YA, I doubt many of us would actually want to go back to our teen years. For one thing we know what we like now and most importantly we can afford to buy our own books
So I’ll leave you with another quote from the film when someone from Mavis’ high school spots her in a local bar:
Matt: You move back?
Mavis: Of course not… gross.
Do you think YA writers haven’t grown up?