Hey all you Scribes fans, PJ Sharon here on this lovely Tuesday morning in the Berkshires. We’ve had a fabulous stretch of weather in New England which, as much as we’re enjoying it, has got to mean Mother Nature is lurking around the corner waiting to clobber us. I hate to be negative, anticipating the worst, but aren’t we all thinking the same thing and remembering those dark days during the blackout in October when we weren’t sure if the apocalypse was perhaps rearing its ugly head?
I bring this up now because I’ve just started a new project that has been roaming around the recesses of my mind for some time and won’t leave me alone. It’s a Dystopian trilogy called “The Chronicles of Lilly Carmichael.” If you want to get a peek at the premise and offer any suggestions for the title of Book 1 in the series, stop over at my “Extraordinary Stories of an Average teenage Life” blog, and weigh in. If I choose your title, you’ll get signed copies of each of my books, including the March release of Savage Cinderella. (Click on the title and scroll down if you want to read chapter one of Savage Cinderella.)
What exactly is dystopian and why is it so hot, you ask? Dystopian YA literature, also known as YA dys-lit, is loosely defined as stories about “post-apocalyptic” societies in which misery and negative conditions prevail, or a seeming utopia is gained at horrifying cost. Scott Westerfeld, Author of “The Uglies” series, has this to say about what draws teens to this genre in droves. Click here for his insightful take on this topic. Since the arrival of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, dys-lit has taken off like wildfire with teens and adults alike, and shows no signs of slowing down. Everyone seems fascinated by the fate of our future and imaginations appear to be drawn to the idea of destruction and chaos.
It’s not like this is a new concept. Books like “Farenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, “The Time Machine” by HG Wells, “1984” by George Orwell, and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley were talking end of the world survival long before Westerfeld and Collins arrived on scene. Since then, however, hundreds of dystopian stories have hit the YA shelves. Some of my favorites are “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, “How I Live Now,” by Meg Rossoff, and obviously—the “Hunger Games” trilogy—can’t wait for the movie! If you haven’t seen the trailer, it’s a MUST see. Check it out here.
What does the publishing world have to say about all this? Is Dystopian on its way out? Or is it the “new paranormal”? Publisher’s Weekly has this to say.
According to some buzz in the publishing world, there is a glut in the market, but most of the articles I’ve read disagree. Read here for another article from PW that speaks of “paranormal fatigue” and calls dys-lit “the next big thing.” I’m thinking those that are saying that Dystopian is on its way out are agents and editors who are getting inundated with dys-lit submissions and are trying to tone down the frenzy. They only have so many slots to fill, and it takes them eighteen months to get the books out. Perhaps they are anticipating that in two years, maybe the market will be saturated. I personally don’t see that happening. As an indie author, I like the fact that I’m under no such pressure to follow market trends or worry that I won’t be able to sell my story to a publisher who is trying to assess an ever-changing and fickle market. But just in case, I plan to jump in now and ride the wave while it’s big and running wild. I plan to have the first book out in July. And true to my other books, there will be a boy-girl romance and a hopeful ending.
Shifting from contemporary to dystopian may seem a bit risky, but it should be clear to you all by now that I’m anything but traditional, and my heart and my muse are telling me that now is the right time for this story. Besides, I have to follow my muse since she and Lilly are keeping me up nights. If I’ve learned nothing else on this indie-pub journey, it is that I have to trust my gut and follow my instincts. So far, they haven’t steered me wrong.
For more information on what various publishers are looking for in YA, check out this article.
What do you think of Dystopian? Here to stay, or doomed to fizzle?