On Writing

Is Caged a Young Adult (YA) Novel?

This question seems to be searched on my site as well as google a fair amount.  For some reason, people seem to be associating my novels with the young adult book population. The short answer to the title of this blog is no, it is NOT a YA novel.

The long answer is a little more complicated than that.

I’ve read a fair amount of YA fiction over the last couple of years, and though the characters are young, the content is not. This isn’t for me to comment on as to whether I think that’s good or bad, but what it does make me consider is whether or not Caged could be appropriate for some younger readers.  I think the answer to that is yes.

I can think of several YA novels that contain language, graphic violence and sexual content/situations that far surpass what is in my own work.  Personally, I have friends who have let their 13-18 year old children read Caged, and have no issues with it at all.  I’m sure other parents would. In response to this confusion, I have elected to post content advisories at the bottom of my novels on Amazon to list what obectionable material is contained inside.  This is something that I’ve chosen to do not only because I am a parent, but also because I feel that books should have some way of denoting what to expect with their content.  Tv shows have warnings…movies too.  Why not books?

Sexual content is always a bit tricky because not all sex scenes are created equal.  I’m not a romance writer, though romantic themes carry out through the series.  That being said, there are sexual encounters in some of the novels.  Where some choose to go into graphic detail, oulining everything that occurs between the characters, I do not.  My grandmother told me once that if I was doing something that I was too embarrassed to admit to my parents, I shouldn’t be doing it.  This was sage advice, and I apply it in my life still, even at thirty-four.  I could NOT show my parents something that contained certain terms, or painted certain pictures.  I think I would die.  What I’ve done to compensate for this is to make those scenes about the characters themselves and the relationship between them rather than keep the primary focus on the act itself.  You still get the gist in a relatively steamy way, without it being too in your face and graphic.  I think grandma would approve if she were still around to have seen it.  I also think she’d be all about Cooper 🙂

My stand on violence/gore is this: sometimes it enhances a scene, and sometimes it’s gratuitous.  Having read the Hunger Games, I don’t feel that anything I write is more graphic than the goriest scenes in that novel, though my tone tends to be far darker and creepier in combination with the violence.  That tone is more so what makes it adult than anything, in my eyes. I also don’t feel that anything I have down in print holds a candle to the violence that is found in R rated or even PG 13 movies, or the content on TV shows viewed after 9 p.m..

Now my favorite issue: language.  The bottom line is that sometimes…you just gotta swear.

I hope for anyone who has searched for this explanation that it has been helpful to you.  If you’re still uncertain about content, my suggestion would be to read it yourself before deciding.  And if you find Caged objectionable, you may want to investigate some of the marketed YA material your children are reading.  You may be shocked by what you find.

1 Comment

  1. Mandi says:

    I really like how you broke this down 🙂 Well put

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