LOVE AT THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
A YA Romance Anthology
From Stars and Stone Books
It’s never easy to go through the fraught transition into adulthood, but the teens in this anthology have more to deal with than most: super powers, magic, illness, prejudice against sexual orientation and gender identity, and even death. Fortunately, they all find love at the edge of seventeen.
Featuring: M.T. DeSantis, A.E. Hayes, Serena Jayne, Cara McKinnon, Mary Rogers, and Kylie Weisenborn.
For our blog tour, we asked our authors to talk about the YA genre. What do they love, what tropes do they hate, and what can be done in YA that can’t be done anywhere else?
M.T. DeSantis, “Be Null, My Heart”
I think my favorite thing about YA is the wide variety of books and concepts available to read. Seriously, you want superheroes? We’ve got it. Fairytale retellings? We got it. Magic schools, summer camps, paranormal, dystopian, contemporary, games, epic concepts? It’s all there and more. As for what you can do in YA, you can make change. I spent my teen years neck-deep in books because they were more fun than real life. From those books, I learned so much, and this was before YA really became a genre/readership. Now, YA not only entertains. It educates. Kids can read about how people vastly different from them on the outside (race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) are really just like them on the inside. Today, that’s so important. I guess you can do this in adult books, too, but adults are less likely to completely change their outlook than kids are.
Yes, there are tropes I hate: instalove and love triangles. They are too overused and often done very poorly. Perhaps it’s a function of age, but I’ve found instalove rarely leads to something solid in real life. Yet, it usually seems to in YA books. As for love triangles, if they are done well, I don’t actually mind them. But when there’s one obvious love interest and then some other under-developed character thrown in there for the singular purpose of giving serious love interest someone to compete against…. Just, no.
A.E. Hayes, “Her First Fever”
I love YA because it creates new rules, especially these days. Before, books mostly focused on awkward transitions into adolescence and adulthood. Now, the stories are more complex, focusing on sexuality, racism, illness, and parental conflicts. The formula has been altered: it’s not just that a boy meets a girl, gets her to fall for him, and they end up happily ever after. Now, the girl can pursue without question. Two boys can fall in love. There can be a backstory that isn’t just about next-door neighbors who meet as children, fall in love, and don’t reunite until high school, where one is a popular jock and the other is a quiet nerd. There are so many ways to write YA, and to write it openly and honestly. The formula is gone. Maybe you can skew the formula in other genres, but I love the fact that writers are now taking YA and making it more about the characters and less about a preset formula.
There is a trope in YA Lit that involves a sick teen who usually has cancer and is about to die. It didn’t begin with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (there were some terrible books in the nineties that focused on sick and dying teens), though that was when most authors began to emulate that storyline. And I truly hate this trope. This is why my YA story doesn’t focus on death: it may mention it, and it is based on medical facts, but it focuses on life. Not everything has to end with a death. Not every teenager who is sick has to die for their love interest to realize how important living really is.
Serena Jayne, “Dead Man’s Party”
I love that the YA genre is all about finding one’s self and all the firsts—first kiss, first love, and first heartbreak. There’s nothing like the first time. A true happy ever after is hard to pull off in the YA genre. While a first love can be a forever love, many times people need more than one relationship under their belt before they are prepared to make a lifetime commitment.
While I don’t hate any particular YA tropes, the orphan trope sometimes feels a bit overused. Xander and Shay’s parents have a huge impact on their lives. Xander’s dad and mom are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his future as a necromancer. With the recent death of her mom, loss colors Shay’s world.
Cara McKinnon, “Three Jagged Pieces”
Although it has become a genre from a bookselling perspective, the fact that the only requirement is that the main characters must be teenagers means it’s not really a genre, in my opinion. It’s more like a subgenre of other genres: contemporary fiction with teenaged protagonists. Fantasy with teenaged protagonists. Etc. With that said, YA seems to be a great place for the coming of age narrative, as well as stories of rebellion and change.
The YA love triangle needs to die a painful death. Seriously. My story is a reaction against the “Team X! Team Y!” wars in fandom. Ava gets both of the guys, because she’s worth it. Of course, another more realistic take on the love triangle is that it’s totally OK not to have any love interests in high school. Not everyone will. I remember being devastated that I didn’t find the love of my life by the time I was sixteen—the age my mom was when she met my dad. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 22. Lots of people don’t have a long-term romantic relationship until their thirties or later. Or never, for lots of reasons.
Mary Rogers, “The Crayon Thief”
What I love about the YA genre is that girls are represented more. They aren’t outlier characters, or useless. Also – all the themes in YA are the same, but they seem more happy, more sad, more brutal, more honest when we get to explore them for the first time as we are young. They leave a bigger mark, and they never will again. That’s important, and a responsibility. The YA tropes I don’t like are few. Death, yes… but that is some of the best stuff out there. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green comes to mind. It’s just not easy, but it shouldn’t be.
Kylie Weisenborn, “Now I Am”
I love the art of writing a genuine YA voice. I feel like teens experience emotions so strongly, and it makes for even more interesting situations, especially romances. I don’t hate any tropes specifically. I try to be aware of tropes when I’m writing them and add my own spin on them.