The blurry line between YA and adult

A funny discussion started earlier this week at Broad Universe about pigeonholing fiction and trying to find the right way to describe your work.

One gal mentioned that when she says that she writes fantasy, most folks assume that she means YA (young adult) or essentially Harry Potter adventures. That's not all what she writes, but when she says "No, it's adult fantasy" that conveys the wrong message too.

Myself, I often fall back on the term "sword-and-sorcery" popular back in the 20th century. Although in my last novel, City of the Dead, only one of the supporting characters uses a sword. My heroine fights her way out of trouble with a well-aimed brick and a wicker shopping basket.

My books also straddle that blurry line between YA and fantasy published for adults. In the bookstores, you will usually find my novels shelved with the other Forgotten Realms books in the "regular" section of the store labeled science fiction/fantasy. But on Amazon and other online stores, you find both the paper and the e-book versions labeled as "Young Adult."

Labels rarely concern me. For years, as a reader, I wander happily between the sections of bookstores. I'm never worried about where I found a book, just whether or not the story sounded good. But once, when leading a fantasy-loving cousin through the delights of the University Book Store in Seattle, she stopped cold outside the children's section. "How can you buy a book shelved there?" she hissed after I grabbed the latest Philip Reeve. "Ummm, it's a book that I want to read," I replied.

She still won't buy "juvenile" books: she thinks its embarrassing. Too bad, she's missing a lot of great fantasy. Including Harry Potter.

So, in conclusion, whether you are writing or reading, don't worry about the labels. Do what you will enjoy. And the story will find a home.


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