Once upon a time adults didn’t read children’s books—well, except to their children, of course, when the children were small and you hoped for them to become readers one day. My mother read me children’s books- The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, A Girl of the Limberlost. She wouldn’t read me her books. She read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. I spent hours staring at those covers in her hands and begged her to read them to me, or at least tell me about them. But she wouldn’t—she said those books were for adults. I was walled out. Adult Fiction and Children’s Books were separate markets. Parent Trap YA had yet to emerge.
Adult Books For Adults
In those days, an adult wouldn’t be caught dead, in public among other adults, contentedly reading a book for adolescents or teens. Can you imagine a lawyer on a New York subway in the 1980’s reading Nancy Drew? Times have changed—but it’s the books that have changed them. I went through a brief frenzy of reading Nancy Drew in early middle school, then I jumped to adult books and never looked back—until college friends badgered me relentlessly that I needed to read the His Dark Materials books by Phillip Pullman and these Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. Eventually I caved, I read, I was engrossed.
Parent Trap YA Captured Me
Something had changed—something drastic.
Books for the Children’s market with adult appeal.
But it’s obvious that not all YA books successfully tap this duality. So what’s different? What is the key to lure adult readers to their teen’s bookshelves?
Childlike Wonder—Adult Themes
YA books that make it truly big aren’t easy—they are controversial. They have hard vocabulary and hard concepts. Feisty books, that are engaging and engrossing.
They don’t treat children like children—they don’t treat adults like adults. These books do not cushion children from dreadful things, or spoon-feed them acceptable morality. Parent trap YA doesn’t forbid adults childish dreams or adolescent fantasies. Parent Trap YA takes the best of Children’s Wonder Fiction and blends it with fears strong enough for a 40 year old reader. It recognizes we are all humans—and that age is not a limiter on that.
Writing Parent Trap YA
I want to write a book that teens will rave to their friends about. A subversive book they will purchase surreptitiously and hide from their parents. I want to write a book that, when the parents find it, and excoriate their teen for reading it, they won’t quite be able to throw it in the trash, but instead will crack the cover—just to verify how bad it is, and then keep on reading.
I want to write a book where the teen now has to buy a new copy, and hide it in a friend’s locker—who also starts reading it. I want to write a viral book—but I don’t want it to be an easy book.
Easy doesn’t capture us. Teeth and claws do.