Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Real Me

So I was thinking the other day. I know, amazing, right? I was thinking about the fact that in a year and a half my book is going to be on shelves. Printed. Bound. Glossy, beautiful cover. Dedications. Acknowledgements. And my words plastered all over the sweet smelling pages. And then I realized, HOLY CRAP! People are going to be READING my book!

It's not that I'm not proud of my book. I'm damned proud. But I live in a small town. Everyone knows everyone more or less. And as word got out that my book was going to be published, I noticed a common theme among my congratulators. They all think I write Young Adult. "I'm going to buy two copies for each of my granddaughters!" my husband's secretary said. "My little sister loves fairies! If you have fairies in your book she'll read it for sure!" a high-school student told me. "Tell your daughter I'm so happy for her!" my mom's collegues said. "She writes for children, right?"


Dead wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrongski.

It's not that I have anything against YA. I actually occassionally read it. And two of my awesomesauce crit parters write YA. You see, I was NEVER a conventional young adult. Having a baby at 16 sort of cuts you off from things like going out, angsting over a guy, the fact that Becky So-and-so is wearing the dress I wanted to wear to prom. Yeah, I was angsting over things like dirty diapers, a crying infant who refused to sleep until well after 3 am. Finishing highschool with my graduating class while taking two years worth of classes in one year. A husband who was in the Navy and living clear across the county from me. So to say I can't relate to teenagers is a bit of an understatement. Not that I didn't get into a little teenage trouble (obviously). But my experimentation and experiences were cut short. And, honestly, I don't regret ANY OF IT.

I've been reading "adult" books since I was 16. And this young mom was into the hard stuff: Dean Koontz, Kathleen Woodiwiss (I likes my historical romance), Shakespeare (ya, he turns me on), and Anne Rice to name a few. So when I started writing it was natural for me that I would write for an adult market.

I can really swear it up in my novels. Yep, nothing enhances a sentence like a few artfully placed F-bombs. And sex... well, I can go a little further than a YA writer can in the sex department. I can tell my story from an adult perspective and I can connect with an audience I get. And I can write in my comfort zone.

So, what's the problem, you ask? I'm afraid of dissapointing people. "I don't write for kids!" I've been putting the disclaimer out. "PLEASE, do not buy my book for your granddaughters." "Attention all highschool students: you will NOT find my book in the school library." I told a mother at my volleyball awards ceremony this year that I wrote "Adult Urban Fantasy" and she looked at me like I'd signed on to ghost-write for Penthouse Forums. In a small town, people are curious. I assume some people will read my book out of sheer curiosity if not for their personal enjoyment. And when they dive in, I just hope I live up to their expectations and they still think that I'm as sweet and personable as I've always been.

I am not my characters. Well, not really. I wish I was sometimes. My heroine is tough, foul-mouthed, and unapologetic, not to mention tall, gorgeous, and not afraid to cut your head off with her katana if you cross her. And while there are things about Darian that might remind some people of me, she's not me. And I'm not her. I'm a storyteller and that's my job. To create extraordinary characters for your reading enjoyment. Just... not for kids.


Sarah Bromley said...

No, your book is decidedly not YA, but it's not so hardcore or anything that I'd be uncomfortable with a 16-year-old or 17-year-old reading it. I was reading Stephen King at that age, ya know? But it's one of those things where you really hope the kid's parents are aware of what they're reading.

As for people assuming your character is you, I think that's a common misconception, but I wouldn't sweat it. Those who know you will know the difference.

Sandy Williams said...

I totally get the same thing. Right after I explain what urban fantasy is, they almost always so "Oh, my daughter would love that!" I have no clue why. Maybe because I taught high school and was an elementary school librarian? *shrugs* I don't call my books adult urban fantasy, though. I'll say it's urban fantasy for adults to avoid the whole Penthouse Magazine thing. ;-)

Amanda said...

You know, Sandy, phrasing that way probably wasn't the best idea. I think I'll go back to adding the 'for adults' at the END of Urban Fantasy. ;)

Shain Brown said...

I can't wait for your book. Some of us are proud to write for adults, some of us want to share stories from a different perspective. And I am not going to apologize for how I write, who my character is, and especially if he or she wants to tear shit up a bit.

YA is great. I love it and I am glad it's out there, but there are some of us who want our stories to be told in a different flavor. Some of us like it a bit more raw.

So, be proud of your work and enjoy what you have accomplished, many of is are still fighting tooth and nail to get there. Congrats to you, you've earned it!

Jennifer Hillier said...

New follower here! ::waves::

Wow, I must say it's nice to find a blog by an author who writes for adults. In the blogosphere, I sometimes think we're few and and far between. :) Nice to meet you!

C. N. Nevets said...

Hang in there, Amanda. I'll be looking at a similar experience. I live in a small town and work at a pretty conservative private Christian university. I'm a Christian myself. But my psychological suspense is full of violent, swearing, atheists and existentialists. I use a pen name so that right now while I'm writing, people know I do it, but they don't just accidentally brush against the content.

Once I publish, I know that's all going out the window.

All I can say is, my plan is to be true to myself, to be confident in what I write and why I write it, and to take my lumps as part of the payment for chasing my dream.

I hope it works out that way, and I hope things fo more smoothly for you than either of us anticipate.

Shawntelle Madison said...

I read adult books because I want the experience of someone with baggage and a potty mouth to boot. These are the things that give me characters with depth in the adult realm. Okay, the booty call never hurts either.