In honor of J.K. Rowling, arguably one of the best children’s authors of the past century, publishing an adult fiction book this past week, I’m examining the adult fiction authors that have ventured into the ever-growing YA genre.
One can’t speak of authors that have spidered their way from adult fiction to YA without first mentioning the feats of James Patterson. His series Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard are mainstays of the bestseller list. Patterson’s son, Jack, did not have the inclination to read as a child. So Patterson was inspired to write Maximum Ride to encourage his own child to be passionate about reading. Now, with his website http://readkiddoread.com, Patterson “is on a mission to turn kids all across the nation into passionate literate and inspired readers.” Patterson recently finished the Maximum Ride series with the publication of Nevermore in August.
With one of the highest selling authors venturing into the YA market, this was bound to become a growing trend. Cory Doctorow, author of YA novels Little Brother, For the Win and the newly published Pirate Cinema, started in adult fiction. However, it appears as though he has now fully jumped ship to YA with Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother due in 2013. In a excerpt that appeared on TOR.com, Doctorow says, “Writing for young people is really exciting… We all read for entertainment, no matter how old we are, but kids also read to find out how the world works.” For Doctorow, the transition to YA has meant a new way to write his characters. He realized that “young people live in a world characterized by intense drama, by choices wise and foolish and always brave.” Having his teen characters be drama-filled means that every event is monumental and the book is a natural page-turner. He says simply: “This is a book-plotter’s dream.”
Richelle Mead was well on her way through two series for adults when she began Vampire Academy, a YA series. In an interview with Book Wholesalers Inc, Mead admits her writing style isn’t too different between adult and YA books. Although she does recognize that “teen characters are so passionate with their emotions that it’s nice to let down all the barriers and just write." Mead’s third book in her Bloodlines series, another YA series, is due in February.
Mystery author Harlan Coben was inspired to dive into YA fiction by his four children. Myron Bolitar, the star of Coben’s adult fiction novel, Live Wire, has a 15 year old nephew, Mickey, with his own stories. Coben wanted to tell Mickey’s story and also write something for his children. His YA debut novel, Shelter, overlaps with the adult novel as a companion for the younger crowd. Coben is not the only author who has written a YA book which companions to an adult series. Kathy Reichs, with the help of her son Brendan, also falls into this category. Her Bones series stars forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, and their Virals YA series stars niece Tory Brennan. Because of the number of teens and children that read the adult books and watch the TV show spinoff, Reichs and her son came up with the idea to venture into YA fiction. Since Virals, Seizure and the third book Code (due in 2013) have themes of science, it not only encourages teens to read and write, but to expand their knowledge of the sciences.
Other notable adult authors who have published adult fiction include Sherrilyn Kenyon, with her Chronicles of Nick series (also a spin-off from the adult series). Richard Paul Evans, Christian fiction author has recently published Rise of the Elgen, the second book in his Michael Vey series. Gena Showalter, a popular romance author, has ventured into teen with the Intertwined series and her recent release, Alice in Zombieland. Also, look for Jasper Fforde’s debut YA novel, The Last Dragonslayer, first published in the UK in 2010, which will be released in the US on October 2nd.
Doctorow, Cory. “Context (excerpt),” TOR.com (2011). http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/10/context-excerpt?start=2
“Interview: Richelle Mead” Book Wholesalers, Inc (blog.) http://bwibooks.com/articles/richelle-mead.php
“James's Top Ten: Surefire Ways to Get Your Kids Reading,” http://readkiddoread.com/uploads/toptentips.php
Jerome, Richard. “James Patterson & Son Jack: Getting my Kid to Read,” People (2008). http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20238301,00.html
New Day Producers. “Bestselling Author Kathy Reichs' new novel + incredible life,” King5.com (2012). http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/Bestelling-Author-Kathy-Reichs-new-novel--incredible-life-169369316.html
Rohrbach, Erika. “Harlan Coben’s New Teen Hero,” Kirkus Reviews (2011). http://www.kirkusreviews.com/blog/young-adult/harlan-cobens-new-teen-hero/#continue_reading_post