Sometimes, the only way to realize something is for someone who knows what they're talking about to point it out. If it's something small, it's usually not a big deal, unless it's something embarrassing like having your pants zipper open. (Guilty.) But this sort of thing is at its worst when it's something you don't want to hear. In my case, it's something I heard from two friends who do in fact know what they're talking about:
"You're writing Young Adult."
Naturally, my first response was resistance. Most characters I write are in their late teens and early twenties, out of the usual range for YA; that's part of why I'm so big on New Adult. Also, I haven't read much YA. Most of what I've read in that category consists of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series. Both are excellent, don't get me wrong.
However, when I think of YA, I tend to think of stories that involve much younger protagonists and a different set of issues than what I like to write. I tend to think of stories with lower word counts, which is a major part of why I've never set out to write YA; I seem to lack the ability to tell a short story. Seriously. Shortest book I've written was 103K, and I deliberately wrapped that one up as quickly as I could. So despite YA being absolutely damn huge these days, I'd never felt the desire to write it.
But when two people who read a ton of YA tell me the same thing, it'd be foolish not to listen. One said that the way I tell a story is too lengthy and descriptive for adult-aimed works. I countered with examples from Neil Gaiman and Jim Butcher, and she counter-countered with the point that both of them can pretty much write whatever they want these days. Couldn't argue with that. And Rena has been trying to convince me that I write YA for quite a while.
Rena also calmed some of my worries about this whole thing. Fantasy stories always have a higher word count than other books, so I could query Skyborne as YA fantasy and not get rejected on word count alone. And if I found success in YA, I wouldn't be expected to write teenagers only forever. Which is good, since I fully plan to let these people grow up. Eventually.
Now, I'm not giving up on New Adult. I think NA will only continue to grow, and it's starting to get wider recognition as a niche that needs to be filled. I dearly hope it soon branches into more genres than just contemporary or paranormal romance. But I'm not going to avoid YA anymore.
I've got a list of agents who are looking for YA epic fantasy, and a brand new edit on my query letter. Guess what I'm doing this weekend.
Wish me luck.