My new YA novel BEETLE BOY belongs somewhere between what we know as young adult fiction, and literary fiction that deals with childhood trauma. Several friends who have read the novel--authors themselves--asked me why it was published as a YA novel. And part of the answer lies in the grey area of fiction for teens that is Carolrhoda Lab.
I am very lucky to be part of the Carolrhoda Lab family, and I use the term 'family' with intentional irony. Andrew Karre, my editor at CL (he also edited Four Secrets, 2012) has created a list of YA's that flourish in the aforementioned grey area, particularly the novels on the list that are realistic and contemporary (Carrie Mesrobian's SEX AND VIOLENCES, 2013 and Blythe Woolston's FREAK OBSERVER, 2011 are two highly acclaimed examples). Carolrhoda Lab is Karre's imprint and part of the umbrella publishing company that is Lerner Books, based in Minneapolis, and including many other imprints and presses. Here is their home page
. More specifically, the home page for Carolrhoda Lab is here
When people ask me this question (why YA?), I can't help but think that some readers assume I have a category firmly in mind when I write a novel like BEETLE BOY. I do not. A story germinates and surfaces and unfolds. The focus sharpens. The pages slowly become novel-length. I don't think about genre. That comes later, if at all. My recent work is alive and kicking the grey area between adult fiction and edgy YA fiction and I am strangely and ironically comfortable here, ironic because I am so much farther from adolescence than when I began writing for teenagers 30 years ago.
BEETLE BOY is necessarily harsh. Reviewers have described it as "demanding," "riveting," and "chilling." It is from my heart of darkness and is not meant for children or pre-teens or any reader who prefers fantasy realms and happy endings. But yes, absolutely, it is a YA novel.