LonCon3 #17: Moving Shelves – Famous Adult Writers Who Have Written YA

Panellists: Joe Abercrombie, Carrie Vaughn, Kelley Armstrong, Peter F Hamilton, Cory Doctorow, Ian McDonald

Great authors who made their names writing adult fiction, tell us about their journey to the other side of the aisle. Are there any differences in writing for two different age groups, or is it partly a marketing gimmick? Did agents and publishers put up any resistance, or were they begging for a chance to thrill teenage readers?

Carrie Vaughn

Adult: Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville #1)
Young Adult: Voices of Dragons
Young Adult: Steel

Says she writes girl adventures that don’t include getting a boyfriend. We shouldn’t talk down to young adults or moralize and be patronizing, instead we should write up to challenge YAs and to appeal to parents and other adults.

Kelley Armstrong

Adult: Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1)
Young Adult: The Summoning (Darkest Powers #1)
Young Adult: Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1)

The first thing Kelley did was get Joe’s autograph on his book!

She read lots of contemporary YA because she was worried about capturing the voice of teens although she did test passages on her children to see if they passed muster. She wrote her YA and middle grade books for her teenage daughter and mid-grade son.

She loves her passionate YA readers one of whom took Bitten off the adult shelf and put it on the YA shelf to show her parent so they could read it. Ingenius.

Joe Abercrombie

Adult: The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
Young Adult: Half a King (Shattered Sea, #1)

Writing YA epic fantasy in a shorter, a lot shorter, painfully shorter, tighter and faster paced books has been challenging. He’s quite funny and I noted down that he had nice biceps. *blushes*

Peter F Hamilton

Adult: Pandora’s Star (Commonwealth Saga, #1)
Young Adult: The Queen of Dreams

He didn’t like what was on offer so he wrote for his children but he found it a challenge writing a shorter book, though “fantasy is so much easier to write than science fiction.”

Cory Doctorow

Adult: Makers
Young Adult: Little Brother (Little Brother, #1)

Last minute addition to the panel as he was invited to attend by Joe.

The YA years are a time when things are dramatic and emotionally charged. A contrived voice can be realistic as teens are trying on different identities to see which they prefer. He found it a lot harder to write kids in jeopardy when he became a parent. He’s never worried about age appropriateness with YA, only with teachers and librarians for fear of being banned.

Ian McDonald

Adult: River of Gods (India 2047, #1)
Young Adult: Planesrunner (Everness #1)

It’s hard to keep track of all the details in his long adult series so he enjoyed starting from scratch. As a foster parent in real life, he’s found that most of his foster children are traumatized and are in need of approval but are scared of needing it too much.

All agreed that coming of age is a more idealistic time of life, but that it’s a universal experience therefore there’s more flexible marketing with YA as some books can be easily promoted as YA and adult.


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