Monday, March 15, 2010
As a YA writer I read a lot. I listen to what important people in the book business have to say about books--which ones are selling, which ones are not and what will be the next BIG trend.
It got me to thinking about my time in school and how everyone I knew was chasing the trends. Music, fashion, movies. If you weren't listening to this band or that singer, you just weren't cool.
Or maybe, being in the school production of King Lear simply wasn't cool but you wanted to anyway.
Maybe your parent hit you and you didn't want anyone to know so you tried to hide it by wearing you hair long over one side of your face. And THAT made you an outsider.
Maybe reading unless it was on the assigned list wasn't considered cool either, but you couldn't resist the latest release from Meg Cabot. Wait? When did reading become cool?
Maybe you had a crush on your best friend who just happened to be the same gender as you and you didn't want anyone to know so you hid yourself behind dark clothes, blue hair and black lipstick.
Maybe you were smart but being smart got you beat up in your neighborhood so you hid your intelligence behind baggy clothes, slang and fights to prove you were a tough guy.
Maybe you didn't have the right jeans on. Or maybe you did but had no idea that you were supposed to wear them with holes in only ONE knee not two-IDIOT.
You see, when I was in high school, I knew someone like all of the above. I befriended kids like all of the above. I genuinely cared for someone like all of the above. I didn't care about trends then and I don't now. I didn't care about being popular then and I don't now. Funny thing is however, I was popular. I was because I didn't judge people. I accepted them. I accepted them for who they were, what they wanted to be and that was all I cared about. That's what made me popular--I wasn't trying. Not what I listened to, what I wore, what I read or what I looked like.
As a writer, I tell stories that I hope will resonate with readers on a personal level. Because I write books based in the paranormal and urban fantasy genres, there will always be otherworldies in my books. However, look and you will always find yourself there too--because at the end of the day, we are all the same inside!
Don't chase the trend, don't try to be like other people. Just do you.
And for book industry looking for the next trend, take a lesson here. The trend isn't angels or elves or mermaids. It's feelings. Belonging. Love. Loss. Acceptance. If you can find a book that speaks to teens at the heart of these feelings, whether the main character is a chicken or a cow (or has fallen deeply in love with either)--it won't matter.