starting to suspect my steampunk is ya…

Maxwell felt as if he had gone to hell. A hell with cows.

Though it’s… quirky at best.

The only ‘rules’ that I’ve been able to find for deciding between young adult and adult fiction tends to be 1) the protagonist’s age, 2) the style of writing, and 3) the length of the book. But surely, there must be more to it than that?

The project is something of an action/adventure maypole dance– I’m aiming for something light, fast, clever, and complicated. Probably much longer than my last book (which is short for a fantasy). I have teen characters, I have middle age characters, I have old characters. No absolute protagonists. My last book was dark and serious– this one is funny and forgiving. Victorian-esc expectations and manners, so quite clean as well.

Is there a reason to aim for YA over adult, or vice versa? It probably won’t make much of a difference, but I’ve started eyeing agents for the previous novel, and I’m wondering about the advantages or disadvantages once The Artificer’s Angels gets a little further on.

4 thoughts on “starting to suspect my steampunk is ya…

  1. Ahhh, genre! Classification is scientific, I guess. Some are pretty obvious, but as one agent observed at a conference I attended, “When they’re close we put the possibilities on a dart board and blindfold ourselves.” Wait ’til you write one that has three or four possibilities. A query letter is hair pull city.

  2. I think subject matter matters, too — while YA books can certainly delve into very serious topics and situations, the YA ones are from the younger characters’ perspectives. Hmmm, I guess that goes into age of characters…

    I go through phases where I’m really into YA books– particularly if one of my kids is really into it. One even wrote her own book (well, she started it; I’m pretty sure she never finished it, but I know she still has it. She wonders whether she should rewrite or start over). So I just sent to her Sea Clearwater, written by Selene Cardenas when she was only 13. (She’s 15 now, believe it or not. Interesting read; also an easy one.

  3. It’s funny, because for every rule used to define YA, I’ve read at least one YA book that breaks it. I would say what mostly holds true is the age factor — the protagonist being of the same or similar age group to which the book is being marketed. It might be worth it to examine an author like Tanith Lee, who flips her work between YA and adult fiction, and see how her books differ.

  4. If you write a book and the main character is a child or teen then you have written a children’s book. The subject matter and language will determine whether it is Young Adult. Jerry Spinelli never set out to write for children. He just found that his stories were told from a child’s prespective. In Europe Stargirl is sold as an adult book, but that would never happen in the US. I find young adult books as entertaining as adult books and the editors working with the authors are putting out great books. More and more adults are keeping these books up and enjoying them.
    St. Martin’s Press has coined a new genre called, “New Adult” that crossed into the college years and young 20’s. I think a good story is a good story, so just write it and then let them figure out where to place it on the shelf. But it will be with the kids books if the main character is one.


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