With my contemporary YA book, DESERT RICE, scheduled for release on June 26th, I'm freaking out a little.
I can't help but wonder how a book without paranormal elements will fair in a market saturated with angels, devils, shiny vampires, werewolves, time travel, or being the only person to possess the keys or powers that will save the world from utter destruction.
There's nothing paranormal here. No magical necklaces with a secret. No "average high school student who finds out they are anything but average." No falling in love with a supernatural creature. No bumping into the new student at school who also happens to be SUPER gorgeous and mysterious. And no, not even one zombie (yeah, I know. Sorry about that).
I've got nothing.
But before you start thinking, "The author is telling us she's got nothing, so this must be a super lame book" I just want to let you know that of all the books I have written, DESERT RICE is by far my favorite. Twelve year old Samantha (or Sam as she likes to be called) is the only character I have ever created (do we really create them or do they simple find us?) who sat on my shoulder, day after day, whispering her story in my ear, and forced me to write words that pained me to do so. Her story took a turn I hadn't expected, and honestly, it was a subject matter I had never planned to write about.
But it was her story not mine. (Readers may not understand this, but every author will be nodding their head).
As much as I love this book and love Sam and her teenage brother Jacob, I wonder about the market place for this kind of book. I love contemporary fiction, especially YA, but what about everyone else out there? Are we so anchored in paranormal and fantasy fiction that books based on every day living, coping with everyday struggles have no room in the hearts of readers?
Many a book store shelf would lead me to believe this is true. Walk into Barnes and Noble lately? What do you see on the shelves in the YA section? Lots of girls in flowery dresses who are either: a) a witch
b) in love with a vampire
c) who had a vision of a loved ones death that they, and only they (with the help of a magical necklace or ring) must stop.
Despite the uphill battle I face bringing this non-magical book to the marketplace and hoping there will be an audience for it, it's one I'm willing to climb. I'm passionate about this story. There might not be any sexy aliens in it or talking squirrels, but I think it's pretty damn good without them. I'm not a market chaser, never have been, nor will I ever be.
I write the stories that I'm meant to write--zombies or no zombies. That's all I can do.
All I know is that Sam chose me to write her story, and I'm damn glad she did.
What's your take on contemporary YA fiction? Love it? Hate it? Oh, and if you happen to be a lover of YA fiction, check out my DESERT RICE page. If you think it might appeal to you, let me know. In the next few weeks I will be looking to gather some feedback and reviews, and I would love to give you a copy (ebook format of your choice) for helping me out. Just let me know in a comment below, and I will be in touch with you. Thanks.