A pair of tweeters were discussing dark fantasy, particularly YA and essentially what, why, how, when, prompts these readers to seek out dark subject matter. This is entirely a Cliff Notes version of what I read of the discussion....
...ANYWAY..... This got me to thinking. Not about the YA market in particular, but why some of us gravitate to darker stories, twisted tales and so forth. I'm not primarily a doom and gloom reader. In fact, I'm not primarily a doom and gloom writer. But I do like a good Anne Rice novel now and then, and let me tell you--that woman can write dark!
I think we gravitate to a dark story because we're looking for depth. Don't get me wrong, everything I write is seasoned with a shake or two of romance and love is a deep emotion, but tragedy, hate, death, and downright spookiness has a way of sinking their collective teeth right into the fleshy parts of your soul. Maybe YA readers do seek this out. They are hormonally driven, still finding themselves and trying to define their lives. I don't know a darker time than the 'teen years', so I guess, maybe, they really can connect to that tone of emotion.
I am lucky enough to have found a great critique partner who, unlike me, has really harnessed her dark side. I don't think I could ever write the haunting scenes that she does, but nevertheless, that darkness pulls me in and doesn't let go, even after I've read the last word. The depth of emotion is amazing to me, and I enjoy the heartache just as much as I enjoy 'happily ever after'. Where as a happy ending fills my heart with helium, a dark story can wring it like a wet rag. Sometimes it's nice to have a cry and let the sorrow in for a moment or two. It's a very human reaction to connect to those deeper emotions and wallow hip-deep in them. It's okay to let a chill run down your spine. And if you have to lock the door after you've read a few pages late at night, that's okay too.
Bring on the dark!! Let me roll around in misery and spookiness. When I'm done I'll read a bright, happy romance or a dashing adventure and it will all balance out. What's light without the dark--right?