Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Is Alexandra Quick YA?

Yes, instead of watching a midnight showing of Deathly Hallows, Part 2, I am writing. I fail at Potter fandom.

Actually, I hate going to movie theaters. The Harry Potter movies are among the few I do go to see in the theater rather than just waiting a few months to Netflix them, but I still ain't going at midnight to get jostled by a bunch of robe-wearing kids. I am much too mature and dignified for that kind of nerdery. So I'm staying home to write fanfic.

Harry Potter is pretty much a case study in straddling genre lines. (Technically, it's straddling marketing categories: "fantasy" is a genre; "Young Adult" is a marketing label, much like "literary fiction," although both of the latter are increasingly perceived as "genres" of a sort as well.) The first two books were definitely MG (Middle Grade) fiction. The tone and complexity began to mature a bit with the third book, and by the end, the series was definitely into YA territory, though not without a certain juvenile feel that never escaped its MG roots. (There are a lot of YA books that deal with sex and violence, for example, more explicitly than Rowling ever dared.)

Rowling herself has said that she never had a particular audience in mind and never specifically thought of them as children's books. I think that's true and it's not. I doubt she ever thought, "Oh, I can't write that, it's not appropriate for children/kids won't get it," but certainly she knew when she was writing it that it was a children's story that adults might enjoy too, not an adult fantasy that kids might also like.

How the 'Harry Potter' Movies Succeeded Where the Books Failed makes some good points about the increasing disconnect between the darker themes in the Harry Potter series and the playful, humorous elements of the wizarding world that attracted children to the series in the first place. I don't know if I agree that the movies are so superior to the books -- they do elevate the adult tone more successfully than Rowling did, but while I've generally enjoyed the movies, they're adaptations and they fail in many places in the way that most adaptations do.

But enough about Rowling, let's talk about me!

One critique of the Alexandra Quick series (not the most common one, but I've seen it more than once) is that it's not funny enough. I try to add the occasional light-hearted or satirical spin on the American wizarding world, but AQ does not have Rowling's jocular tone. I think I managed that a little better in Hogwarts Houses Divided, but the Alexandra Quick series has always been a darker story in my mind. I'm not trying to make it grimdark fantasy by any means, but my vision is, in the manner of most fan fiction writers, the way I "would have" done certain things if I'd been Rowling. (My version of the Battle of Hogwarts would have had more named casualties and a few more dead Weasleys, though I would not have written the bloodbath in Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness.)

I was never really trying to emulate Rowling's style (as I did somewhat in HHD), though I have been trying to keep AQ consistent with the Potterverse, which means neither wild departures from canon nor a lot of sex and bloodletting.

But like Rowling, I've never had a particular age group in mind. I was quite aware that my audience would be fan fiction readers, which means mostly teenagers and young adults. As far as I can tell, AQ fans do seem to skew slightly older (and more male) than average in the HP fandom, but the majority of my readers are still in the young, mostly female demographic.

That hasn't consciously affected how I write what I write. But since I have a lot of opinions on "Young Adult" fiction in general, it does make me wonder where AQ falls along the MG-YA-Adult spectrum. I don't honestly think the first book, Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle, was a MG book, even though it would probably have been shelved as MG fiction if it were a published novel because of its protagonist being an eleven-year-old. I have mostly been writing for a readership of me, which means (in my mind) writing like an adult for adult readers, even if the characters are all children and the world is, "darker" or not, still the slightly juvenile, zany wizarding world that Rowling created. Again, if it were published, I'm sure AQ would be marketed as YA, but notwithstanding my avoidance of explicit sex and violence, I'm not sure how I would write AQ differently if I were a pro author writing for the adult fantasy market.

Do you think of AQ as YA?

Note: This is not me trying to convince myself that I write "better" than YA (or Rowling), since I don't think quality of writing necessarily corresponds to the target audience of a book. Nor am I asking for reassurance that AQ is more "sophisticated" or "complex" than most YA books. I'm just wondering whether the tone feels YAish or not, and if so, is it entirely because of the age of the protagonists, or are there other factors that make it read differently than an adult novel? This is also of interest to me because the other writing project I've been working on off and on -- that Original Fiction novel you may or may not ever hear anything about -- is also a book I'm writing without any preconceptions about whether I am writing it as YA or adult, but it also features young protagonists (meaning most likely it will be perceived as YA), so I'm not sure whether I would pitch it as YA or not.

AQATSA Status Update: I am on Chapter 43, and 264K words. (Aaieee!) My outline still says Chapter 45 will be the last chapter. I am targeting the end of this month as my deadline for finishing the rough draft. That is not a guarantee, but it's what I am aiming for.
Tags: alexandra quick, aqatsa, writing, young adult

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