Choosing an Audience & Switching Gears from YA to Adult Fiction
I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing for young adults. There’s something in particular about the age group that I really connect with—maybe it’s because I feel as if I have many stories to tell about my time as a teen, growing up into an adult and learning more about myself. Maybe it’s because that time of life resonates with me for some reason. Or maybe, possibly, it’s something to do with the fact that I did so much reading and developing as a person during that time of my life. Whatever the reason is, when I started out writing novels for publication, I immediately got sucked into the world of YA fiction, the voice of the stories, and the topics and themes that were often covered in these types of novels.
However, after publishing approximately ten books and writing a half a dozen more, I felt a peculiar feeling of completion eating away at me. I constantly began to worry about the content of my writing, which often spanned some darker themes, including a lot of mental health conversations. I began to feel personally affected by the effort and engagement that these books took, often at a sacrifice to my own ability to manage my personal capacity for these issues. On top of that, I started feeling like I was running out of stories to tell.
Enter: writing for older audiences. But not just that, I also found the idea of writing a fantasy novel kind of interesting. However, it wasn’t until I completely absorbed the notion of trying something new and a little bit scary, that I found The Witcher 3 for PlayStation 4—and then I knew I had to try my hand at creating a lush world with deep connections between the main character and her love interest.
Writing for an older, fantasy audience offered up to me everything that I was worried about in my YA work. I was able to include scenes that felt more relevant to me as an adult, discuss different topics, write in a different style, and develop a voice I didn’t know I even had inside of me. I think that before that moment, before I realized that I could make Andrzej Sapkowski’s writing also work for me as an author and a creative, I probably would have completely burnt out from writing my style of young adult novels. Honestly, it’s possible I would have broken away from writing novels as a whole.
Now that I look back on it, it’s a wonder that I didn’t think to try something new sooner. However, I think sometimes we, as writers, get so wrapped up in our own processes, building our sense of author identity, and trying to follow a brand that might not be working, the idea of changing becomes scary and uncomfortable. Of course, this also applies to so many other areas of life. Change can be daunting and unpleasant at the best of times, and growing pains are very real things when trying to develop and flourish. But if we push through, wonderful things can—and do!—happen.
I think that writing Beneath the Starlit Sea was one of those beautiful things to come out of trying to grow not only as an author, but also as a person. I learned more about my writing skills and gave certain parts of my mind a break. I exercised a lot of muscles in my brain that I didn’t know existed, started learning how to plot, create a bit of a magic system, and built up characters that existed in a world that sort of looks like our own, but truly isn’t. It was such a fun process, and I am truly grateful to all of those who helped in the creation of this story, making it what it is today: a story about connection, adventure, and ultimately, the idea that love can conquer all.