Since writing Flow - which has a teen protagonist (Kit is fifteen; Chailyn, the other POV character, is twenty-four) - and then, after Journal of the Dead, working on Scylla and Charybdis - Anaea is nineteen - I've wondered if I should be looking into the YA market. Reading a few people on my bloglist discuss YA, I have finally decided ... no. Anything I could write would be lousy as far as the YA market is concerned. Why?
1. No School Experience -- I was homeschooled, not just for a year or two, but from kindergarten through graduation ... and then I took distance courses for college. The majority of my comprehension of highschool comes from watching Glee. This is arguably the social structure for contemporary YA. Even if homeschooled protagonists can work, I am handicapped even drawing the comparisons.
2. Boys Boy Boys -- I had one crush during my teen years, but even considering that, it would be pretty accurate to say I didn't care about boys one way or another. I still am a pragmatist on the romantic front. It would be fair to say the giddiness of teen crushes is beyond me.
3. Identity Crisis -- Or lack thereof. Not that I haven't had my moments, but I've never really had a time where I didn't know what I wanted to be (when I grew up! ;-)). It's a direction I have trouble taking myself in fiction.
4. Rebellion? Why? -- I was a Good Kid (tm). I didn't even drink when I was in Scotland at the age of nineteen, because it was still illegal back home. I never understood the thrill of disobeying just to do so. All that stultifyingly good behavior would make for a sugary protagonist, to say the least - and from what I've read, that's no longer viewed as realistic.
5. Plugged In -- More a handicap for modern stories, but today's teens seem to be increasingly hooked up to every network imaginable. Whereas I am still hotly denying that my cellphone can do anything other than make calls. It's a phone! I don't need it to weigh melons! I don't want to receive tweets every two seconds!
6. Hypocrite? -- I could certainly read it now - in fact, Patricia McKillip's Dragonhaven, which I loved, is classed as YA - but the fact that remains when I was a teenager, I read a handful of YA books and otherwise skipped straight into "grown-up" books. Grant that the selection is a lot wider and a lot better quality than it was, but I'd still feel sorta ... dishonest writing something that I probably wouldn't have read at that age. ;-)
None of this is to diss YA - or even to insult myself, though I guess it does kinda come off that way - simply ruminations on mindsets that don't intersect. Add to that the fact that I find myself increasingly interested in protagonist-as-parent, and I move pretty firmly away from YA territory.