What Draws You to Read and Write YA/NA?

Today I’m kicking off my sandals (yes, I’m wearing sandals . . . it’s still 85 degrees where I live . . . POLO!  Oh sorry, just blogging pool side)–anyway, where were we? Oh yes! Jessa Russo, my CQ sister who like me, reads, writes and breathes paranormal YA, is here to tell us what drew her to read and write in this kick butt genre.

Woot, woot!! Take it away, Jessa.

I started reading at an early age – as I believe we all did – and when I was in middle school I became obsessed with Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. (Me too! Love R.L. Met  him at a reading festival 2 yrs ago and he made up an AWESOME story right there on the spot with the kiddos suggestions!) But I feel like we didn’t have much along the lines of young adult back then, and honestly, I can’t remember anything after my Christopher Pike obsession. I think I just quickly followed in my mom’s footsteps and began devouring Steven King and Dean Koontz (I have gotten weak in my 30s. Used to read these guys, but now they just freak me the eff out!) when I’d been ready to move past Christopher Pike.

As an adult, I continued feeding my love of mystery and paranormal with Sandra Brown, more Dean Koontz, Heather Graham …

And then I had a baby, and decided I didn’t have time to read. So I didn’t read for a lot of years. (Ohmigosh, are we sistas from another mother? Me tooooooo!)

One day, everything changed. My friends were suddenly obsessed with this new teeny-bopper book called Twilight. And I mean REALLY obsessed. Yes, I made fun of them. Yes, I made a LOT of fun of them. They were claiming ‘Team Edward’ and ‘Team Jacob,’ and all I could think was ‘Team Get A Life.’ So then the movie came out, and I had friends going to midnight showings with their teen cousins/sisters/daughters/etc. And they were as excited if not more so than the teens! I was amazed. (Now YOU are freaking me the eff out–I’m putting on my cool foil hat now so you can stop reading my mind and stealing my memories!)

Eventually, one of my uber-obsessed friends brought over a pirated DVD of Twilight (Yes, it was still in theaters/No, I don’t condone pirating/Yes, I watched it. The shame! lol) And I almost enjoyed it, but I felt like something was missing. So, she convinced me to read the book, leaving me with her well-worn, prized copy. (*takes foil hat off* phew! I read the books before the movie, back in the summer of 2009 when my sisters dragged me to Target and told me I had to read it)

{Insert reluctant me: Fine. I’ll read it.}

Fast forward twenty-four hours, and I was like a drug addict searching for a fix. I was calling libraries and friends, posting on MySpace, doing whatever I could to locate the next installment. (Apparently I was too cheap to buy it at the time, though I am now the proud owner of the boxed set.) *grin* (Hey, you have to save money for Starbucks coffee and cake pops, right?!)

I read the entire set in under two weeks – which would have been less time had I not had to locate each one and borrow it from friends. (Which should have driven me to fork up the cash to buy the set, but whatever!)

Well, the point of that story is to tell you that after that, I was hooked. It was like suddenly, someone had opened my eyes and said, “Jessa! Wake up! You DO have time to read, you silly goose!”

{Insert happy me: “OMG I HAVE TIME TO READ! And I am happy! YAY!”}

*Big thanks to Stephenie Meyer.*

Now you know what got me started in YA, but what is it exactly that draws me to read and write YA?  

Well, for starters, there’s so much more room for creativity in YA. So much more innocence, growth, and exploration. But aside from that, I already know what it’s like to be a grown up. I have a mortgage. I have bills I worry about paying. I have debt. I have a marriage to nurture. I have a daughter who depends on me to make all the right choices for her life. I have all of the stuff that comes with adulthood. (I hear ya! Being “mature” sure sucks sometimes, which is why I so rarely act my age.)

So yeah, maybe I want to read about that young adult innocence that I left behind a long time ago. Maybe I want to read about that first kiss I will never have again. Or that first love that makes you feel like you’re going to crumble in on yourself and combust into a million pieces all at the same time. Or even that first heartbreak that you swear you will never ever recover from. (Well, I recovered just fine, but the guys didn’t;-) Kidding, kidding–I met my hubby when I was 14 so I’m kinda a spoiled brat)

I will never have those feelings again. And I’m not complaining – I wouldn’t trade my happily ever after for any of that – but I do miss those first feelings, that innocence that comes with adolescence. The mistakes and regrets, the joys and the triumphs … even the pain.

THAT is why I love YA.

THAT is why I write YA.

There’s something so special, and so unique about that time in our lives, and it is over in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon you’re facing down your thirties and wondering what happened to the hot seventeen-year-old you used to see in the mirror. (For me it was 28, IDK why but 28 was my hot year. Maybe there’s something to that “golden birthday” thing b/c I was born Aug. 28th. I’ll spare you the year!)

Well, I can tell you – she has gray hairs, wrinkles, and goes to bed at nine because she’s too tired to stay up late anymore, and when she does, it takes days to recover.

She’s also staring down into gorgeous blue eyes that believe she hung the moon, and loving the husband she always dreamed she’d have. So it’s a good thing. But every so often, she likes to be reminded that youth is an amazing thing too.

Well said, Jessa! I hope you didn’t mind me randomly commenting on your post . . . it’s what I do! If you haven’t read Jessa’s new book, check out the blurb below. It’s next on my TBR list *squee*

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.
Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.
Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

To learn more about Jessa and Ever, visit her website.

25 comments on “What Draws You to Read and Write YA/NA?

  1. Congratulations on your release, Jessa! May you go from strength to strength. I think I’m about the same age, so I also remember how there really wasn’t so much in the way of teen lit or young adult back then.

    I write YA for probably a boring reason, because I was a young person myself when I began writing, and it would’ve made no sense to write about adults when I had no experience of things like marriage, raising kids, and working. I’ve kept writing about young people as I’ve become an adult because it’s familiar, and since I write series books and family sagas, it’s only natural to transition my young people into adulthood and continue following their lives.

  2. Great post! And ohmygoodness, it feels like you just typed out my “learning to read again” experience. People laugh about it, but Twilight is what rekindled my love for reading once I’d had a baby. And I love your reasons for loving/writing YA. *swoony sigh*

    • I think we all go phases and most of us liked Twilight. I don’t mock it but I’m not enthused as I once was, but I don’t still have NKOTB posters hanging on my walls either. Twilight was one of those series that went too long for me–I think my limit is at a trilogy. That 4th book completely killed it for me, but nobody can deny what Stephenie did for YA.

  3. As a more mature (drat the word) woman, I must say that the current craze of YA is very encouraging. It’s brought back an entire generation of young readers and that alone is reason to celebrate. Thanks you young, beautiful gals 🙂

  4. Hi Jamie!

    Great to learn more about Jessa and her book. Yeah I was the same when Twilight came out. I was in the middle of writing my own first novel length YA and I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. I watched the movie first, and liked the dark side of it, so gave the book a try and was hooked all the way thru too. Just about every female I knew was hooked on it. To all those Steph Meyer naysayers, I say there’s something to be learned from her for sure. 🙂
    I write for teens cuz to me, it’s the most confusing time and everything is larger than life. To be able to capture that in a story is such a challenge and a thrill and leaves us all feeling a little younger at heart.

  5. I just love Jessa’s rationale about why she writes YA! I read and write a lot of different genres, but have to admit there is a certain charm to writing about young people on the edge of adulthood. So much turbulence, so much to learn. Every new situation is laden with so much emotion!
    And thank you for spelling Stephenie Meyer’s name correctly! As someone who also bears a tricky first name, it gives me hope that the world might someday learn to spell mine. 🙂

    Your book sounds amazing, Jessa!

  6. Great post on why you love YA! I completely agree, though Twilight is not my favourite. I love how you can just plow through really good YA books in one evening because they keep you turning the pages.

  7. Holy S*&%. This is MY story. I’m serious. I read Dean Koontz and Stephen King. I had a baby and stopped reading. And I had a friend push Twilight on me. I read the whole thing in under 2 weeks!! That’s when I started reading more and writing. And I write YA for the same reasons. The creepy, creepy thing??? I was born on August 28th.

  8. I write YA because I feel more comfortable and free with younger characters that don’t have everyday adult worries that keep them from having adventures. I haven’t read Twilight. Maybe I should but it just doesn’t appeal to me.

  9. I’m trying to remember if “teeny bopper” was conjured up by my generation. Hmm. We’re the same group who brought you “psychodelic” and “groovy”, oh, and “keep on trucking”. Which probably shows we can’t be trusted to comment on Miss Meyer. Okay, I confess I haven’t read her books, but I did see the first movie. And no, I didn’t care that they broke up, but I did enjoy the movie, and now I feel so ashamed I’m going off to borrow the first book. Boy, you two are tough cookies!

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