Thursday, February 04, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: The Next Big Trends In YA

It is 11.08pm, and I've been procrastinating. Did I ever mention how I should be, like, an Olympic level professional procrastinator? Seriously. I make it so easy. Just now, I was looking in google streetview at random streets at the complete other end of New Zealand. I still don't know exactly why. Lesser procrastinators should aspire to the level of grace and doggedness in my procrastinating.

So. Predictions for the next big thing in YA. Predictions. It's probably worth bearing in mind that I am bad enough at predicting what the next day of the week will be sometimes. I would be an appallingly bad fortune teller.

I predict that fantasy/paranormal fiction is going to stay big. We are the Harry Potter generation, my friends. We like our magic especially magical. I think angels and witches are on the rise. But in the long run, I predict that fantasy will not be so much about publishers trying to pick the next "in" creature. Instead fantasy will be darker, weirder, and more diverse. (Is there possibly a bias showing here? Of course not. Whatever would make you think that?) There will still be vampires, but plenty of other things too, from plenty of new interesting angles.  And I predict more demons and dystopias and people with magical powers, and more unusual settings. (No. Shut up. There is no bias towards the stuff that I write. I told you already. At least, not a deliberate one. Honestly. )

And given how huge Avatar has been, I think it's about time science fiction had a comeback in YA. There's lots of potential there. I don't write sf, so there's no bias this time. Just logic. Among other things, it'd be a great way to grab some of those reluctant boy readers.

Also I predict even more beautiful contemporary fiction. And that it will hopefully get more time in the spotlight. I predict LGBT characters becoming more widespread in mainstream YA. I also predict that the edgy factor in contemporary fiction (and fantasy too) is going to grow even more, that writers will take even more risks. There will be more outraged parents, more attempts at book banning, but also many more important, honest and gut-wrenching stories that show us the world in all its grittiness and all its beauty. There are going to be many, many more arguments about censorship and influence and corruption and all the stuff that people come out with when stories are so true that they're threatening. But in the end, the books are going to win, because the books always win. And the books are going to be wonderful.

And yeah. I'm kind of thinking this possibly isn't so much about predictions as it is about hope, but hope is good. Hope can change everything.

I've also been wondering whether YA won't change so much as mainstream literature will change to become more like YA. With electronic readers, and the increasingly fast pace of, you know, seemingly everything in the world, I think that there is an increasing call for immediacy in fiction. And as far as I'm concerned, YA is one of the most immediate genres there is. I think that's one of the reasons why it has stayed afloat so well, why people read it and love it who are long past being young adults themselves, why it is a genre on the rise. We want our books to be here and now and everywhere, to make a direct connection with who we are, to ask questions, and maybe even to give us hope. I think that New Adult (under that name or a different one) could possibly happen and happen brilliantly. And as a result, there might be more grey area where YA and mainstream merge. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet.

But yeah. Who really knows what the future will be? Not me. But I'm looking forward to finding out.

To find out what my fellow highwayers have predicted, visit YA Highway.


Kaitlin Ward said...

Your blog changed! I clicked on and for a second, I thought, where am I?? It looks purdy.
I would love for weird/diverse fantasy to be in. I <3 weird/diverse.

Anna said...

I'm not a big YA reader, but I loved this post! As a mum, I'd LOVE to see the trends of which you speak come to life, especially contemporary and LGBT, as well as more sci-fi; get minds spinning and expanding all over the place!

Kate Hart said...

Your point about immediacy is a really good one. Love the new blog layout!

Kristin Miller said...

Beautiful layout and an awesome post, Leila. I'm reading through your predictions going "Oh! Yes, that one - that would be so awesome!" Stranger and weirder FTW and I mean F.T.W.

Michelle Schusterman said...

Like all of your blog posts, this one makes me want to read some Leila fiction. Seriously. Got anything I can beta yet???

頭髮 said...


Leila Austin said...

I need to get my act together and get on with editing TDIBF, so I can send it out. If all else fails, I might send out the first couple of chapters for betaing, because I've edited them a bit already, so they're in vaguely readable shape. (What is a vaguely readable shape? Round? Square? Triangular?)

I'm glad you guys like the new layout! I was fine with the old one for ages and ages and ages, then one day I looked at it and it looked like a doctor's waiting room. So then I had to change it, because yeah. Nothing more off-putting than involuntarily thinking of tedious medical stuff every time I look at my blog.