Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fear of Success

I know this sounds like an odd fear to have.  Who wouldn't want to make a mint on their creations?  Why would I be at all concerned that anything I write, from the Queen's Fury to Fantasti*Con go on to the level of achievement known by The Hunger Games or Twilight?

It's a fear of the road to get there, that road being the amorphic label "Young Adult".

Especially as I'm not writing with the target audience of "12 year olds".

For example, Mercy Lyons, the heroine and eventual captain of a star ship is a former Allusion Pleasure Slave. She comes from a culture that raises girls (which are born in exceptionally high numbers) into slavery as regular practice.  It is a violent culture with all the social niceties as a pride of lions.

And Mercy's former life becomes part of our story.  We see what happened to her before her rescue and we explore her thoughts on that world and culture as she explores and discovers more of the country she now knows and serves.

In short it's not really for kids.

But I also know my writing style enough to know that I don't write at the level of high literature.  The language I use is fairly forward and while I do have a certain Dickensian style to my sentence structure, I don't believe that my writing is out of reach for most readers.  From what I've discovered it seems that if you shy away from explicit sex, and you don't use too many big words, you can easily get labeled as Young Adult

And this is a good thing for most writers.  The Young Adult market is massive and targets people who have a lot of extra time and money to engage in reading.  It seems to me that getting labeled as YA is a gateway to riches.  Adults aren't ashamed of reading "kids books" (and haven't been since Harry Potter), and kids eat them up.  Plus, if you can get on a few reading lists, you have the added bonus of parents buying copies to pre-read at home.  It's win after win after win.

But while I am writing Mercy to be a strong heroine in her own ways, I'm not sure I want to feel that pressure to write her as a role model for girls under the age of 13.  I want the freedom to do things like make the reader question the complex issues of interstellar politics and cultural norms and even the issue of slavery, but not do it in a way where I've got hate mail from moms because they're angry about what their little girls are reading.  I want to write her as real to her times, real to herself, and yes, imperfect.

Granted, it's a burden that comes with the comforts of success.  I'll feel dirty but I'll be rich while I feel dirty.

So maybe I'm not so afraid....

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