Happy Valentine’s Day Scribes fans! In honor of romance, I’ll be giving away double the love with an e-book copy of each of my books, On Thin Ice and Heaven Is For Heroes to one romance-loving commenter to be chosen at midnight tonight! Also in honor of good old Saint Valentine, I’d like to talk about YA love.
I’ve been asked several times why I write Young Adult fiction, specifically, YA Romance. When I began writing for publication, I started by writing adult romances, but I had some issues with it. Other than needing to learn a lot about the writing craft, I was also incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of people I knew reading my romantic scenes. I’m a massage therapist by day and my clients were very supportive of my writing from the very beginning, but thinking about them reading the steamy scenes I was putting on the page had me breaking out in hives. Ironically, that was the best part of my writing and like most of my own adult relationships, my adult stories all seemed to lead to…well…sex. So what’s a die-hard romantic to do?
As any smart girl will tell you, romance novels aren’t just about creatively writing sex scenes. Romance novels are about capturing the emotions, building the tension, bringing those romantic moments to life for the reader. I wanted to do that with my stories, but I wasn’t comfortable with the down and dirty details. Once I realized that my “voice” (that elusive quality that makes each writer unique), was best suited for first person narrative and that I had a rather “young’ perspective, I realized that my heart was in sharing “extraordinary stories of an average teenage life.” I had loads of teen experiences to draw from and it was a way for me to share some valuable lessons I’d learned along the way.
As a wonderful bonus, it turns out that the inspirational life lessons that come through in my stories are as meaningful to adults as to any of the teens who might read my books.
Let me be clear in saying that I have nothing against those that write the higher heat level books. I love a good rogue Duke or Chaps-wearing cowboy. Even in YA romance, the steaminess level runs the gamut. There are graphic scenes in many YA novels on the shelves these days. Even though the topics in my own books are mature, they lean toward the sweeter side of first relationships. I like offering an option that fills a gap between young adult and adult romance.
I’ve also come to realize that it’s not always necessary for adult romances to draw the reader a blow by blow (pardon the pun) description. In fact there are many romances that are sweet and romantic and very successful without that (ie: Kristan Higgins’ novels and our own Katy Lee’s upcoming release, Real Virtue).
I enjoyed writing those steamy scenes, but I needed to find a way to tone down the intensity for my own comfort level, so I started thinking about my own life and who I was BS (before sex). I was immediately struck by all the first times that came to mind. I love writing YA romance because I get to travel back to all those first times and in some ways re-write them. You remember that first kiss, your first Valentine, and maybe even your very first date? Everything for teens is so immediate, so crucial, and so DRAMATIC!
Romance in YA fiction is all about falling in love, mending a broken heart, finding that one person who completes you and makes you feel whole—much like adult romance, but with the freedom to end on a hopeful note rather than attaining that ultimate HEA ending. I like the idea of leaving my characters room to grow up.
How do you like your romance? Hot and heavy, or sweet with a little steam? Have you read any YA romance? If not, you might find it surprisingly satisfying.