A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Having a fourteen year old son who is a voracious reader, the question ‘is YA just for girls’, seems a bit of an odd one to me, which really is why I chose this post to write about. Certainly it seems more acceptable within teen society for girls to be readers rather than boys, my son shares his love of books with his friends who happen to be girls (not girlfriends, he tells me), as few of his friends who happen to be boys, read much, and he is very aware of the covers/colours/titles of the books he reads, telling me he would just be made fun of if he was to be seen reading a pink/purple/glittery/pastel-y cover, or a title with an overtly female reference.
Unfortunately this seems to be the norm; my debut novel ‘A Brighter Fear’ received comments from potential boy readers that the cover is ‘too girly’ for them, although boys who’ve actually read it didn’t find it at all ‘girly’.
It does seem a shame when you think of the excellent stories boy readers would be missing out on, (recently the classic ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl has been re-issued with a pink cover), but something that could be explored in a different post.
But there is masses of stuff in the YA market that seems to be aimed specifically at boys – Will Hill’s ‘Department 19’ series, the fantastic ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ series, Charlie Higson, Michael Grant – but now I feel I’m stereotyping boys and overlooking girls – why shouldn’t they read these too? And it seems more acceptable within their society for girls to read these than the other way round.
Then what about books that comfortably span both sexes? Philip Pullman’s classic ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, Patrick Ness’ ‘Chaos Walking’, Mal Peets’ ‘Tamar’ or ‘Life: an Exploded Diagram’, Melvyn Burgess’ ‘Junk’, Sally Gardner’s ‘Maggot Moon’…its endless…
Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ is avidly read by both sexes, and going a little further back, Stephanie Mayer’s ‘Twilight’ series, which my eldest son read so he’d have something to talk to girls about! (It worked – it got him a date!).
Is more YA read by girls? I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it is, purely because more girls seem to read regularly than boys, but is YA just for girls? I would give a resounding ‘no’.
Like so many authors, for as long as I can remember, I’ve made stories up in my head. However, it never seemed an attainable career for ‘normal’ people, so it wasn’t until about the year 2000 when my youngest child was about to start school and the prospect of returning to full-time work loomed that I thought it’s now or never and started taking it seriously
In those twelve years, as well as many rejections, I was also a finalist in a BBC script-writing competition, and achieved a first class honours degree in Professional Writing.
A Brighter Fear was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards and my second novel, A Dream of Lights was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and awarded ‘Highly Commended’ at the North East Teenage Book Awards.