07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Why YA?

Hi everyone! I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. 

Why do I write YA? Especially since I began with an adult romance (and someday intend to get back to that genre, I promise.) In fact, my first YA was all about the coming of age of the main characters from my adult romance, David Albacore and Yolanda Dare. And I can truthfully say David made me do it. He becomes such an arrogant, overbearing adult, but he kept telling me that if people only knew what I went through when I was growing up they would understand.

That's how I got hooked in the process of crafting coming-of-age stories.  The possibilities are fascinating. We all have those moments in our lives when we are choosing which path our futures will take. I write novels about those paths, those choices, and the days before young people know their limitations, or accept that there is only one "right way" to do things, or have their passions dulled by adult responsibilities. Teens and tweens are:

These young people deserve good stories that tap into those emotions, stories filled with complex issues and even more complex characters. YA characters are truly limitless. The genre needs authors who understand young people and want to touch them in meaningful ways. Not adult books masquerading as YA to cash in on a trend; or simple, watered down stories from publishers who think kids can't handle real issues.  They need stories that show our young readers possibilities and options for the future. Even more important (at least to me) are stories that promote empathy, caring and understanding. These are all commodities in ever reduced supply, at least here in the 2016 United States.

I view my job as a YA author is to light up young people, feed their passion for story and hand them endings that satisfy their emotional needs.

Many young people are looking for their spot in the world, that's the cause of teen angst, where do I belong? I write for them, trying to present a map and say here, kids, you belong right HERE.

I don't mind if adults read my books, if they feel nostalgia and remember the good old days when they were there. But I aim right for the kids.

This is a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, serendipitously shown last Sunday, March 20, MADAME SECRETARY. (I do hope I don't get nabbed for plagiarism) 
Lighting them up for the first time, that age when they're so passionate. Falling in love, getting their hearts broken.
This was from a conversation where a former high school teacher explains to a college teacher exactly what he is missing by never having dealt with younger students. I've heard many teachers insist they would never want high school students, they want third grade and under, "before they begin hating teachers and school." While I visit high schools and swear I would run away screaming if the teachers left me alone with the students, the truth is I feel a difference in the air when I deal with the older and younger kids. Second and third graders are impressed by anything you say.  Eighth grade and up let you know, it is your job to impress them.

I actually admire them for that. They deserve someone who will accept that challenge.  They are the reason I write. I do everything I can to keep in touch with today's teens to keep my stories relevant and real. That includes spending time with them, going to music festivals, talking to classrooms, attending high school events. Last week I judged at the Chicago Public Schools science fair, dealing with 7th and 8th grade students. My field was Behavioral Science, which provided a double dose of research into today's youth, since some of the budding scientists used their classmates for their experiments. The passion was potent in one girl whose research was on gender differences. God, she reminded me of me in my twenties as she explained gender issues and sex stereotypes, even quoting Gloria Steinem to me with fire in her eyes.  Our tweens and teens really are so much more sophisticated than we give them credit for being.

Young people hold that fire and passion. They  can bleed so easily, over so many different things. That's the real definition of passion, caring so much it hurts. Those are the people I love writing for, the ones that care so much about so many things. When they love a book, they really LOVE it.

Its not always about an HEA in YA romance. Sometimes young readers just need a really satisfying HFN to fall in love with a book and the hero/heroine.

In my first YA, Pull (http://www.amazon.com/Pull-Farrington-Tales-B-Binns/dp/0988182106), I personally know that my hero and heroine, David and Yolanda, do have an HEA, with all the ups and downs a long, happy marriage will entail.  But I end the book with an HFN. My hero and heroine care for each other and vow to remain close no matter what tries to come between them. And that is what's right for the 12-16 year old demographic I'm after.


My second book features an independent fourteen-year old freshman and the senior who doesn't want to admit he secretly likes her. He and her brother are near mortal enemies. But somehow, Malik Kaplan, the near anti-hero of Being God, (http://www.amazon.com/Being-God-B-Binns-ebook/dp/B00B9EWAEK), can't help liking the girl who is as tall as he is, slightly overweight, and bordering on being a nerd.   Minority of One (http://www.amazon.com/Minority-One-Farrington-Tales-3/dp/0988182122/) deals with a gay teen, still reeling from the loss of his boyfriend. He and the new girl in school become friends and each helps the other find, or perhaps rekindle, the fire of romance.

And now, before I end this post, I am happy to announce the next step in my writing for young people journey. I recently stepped into the shoes of even younger readers and completed my first Middle Grade novel, tentatively titled:
This time the twelve year old hero and heroine get to take that first step at looking at each other as maybe something special.  Technically it's not a romance, but it is bursting with hope and caring, and I hope lots of kids read it and see themselves in the joy of life - and of getting that very first kiss.

The rights to Courage have been bought by HarperCollins, and it will be traditionally published in winter 2018. Feel free to contact me on Facebook facebook.com/allthecolorsoflove or via email rtgblog {at} babinns {dot} com to get on my newslist for more information about the progress of Courage or other stories I have in the pipeline.


Judith Ashley said...

Congratulations, BA on the HarperCollins deal! And thank you for being so clear about why you write YA and now Middle Grade. I taught high school for a couple of years and would have run screaming into the night if I'd had K - 6 grade (also taught 7 - 8 for a year and did go screaming out of the classroom at the end of most days - lol). Loved high school students!!!

B. A. Binns said...

I'm learning to love them all. The kids are so different in different grades, I have to employ different tactics to reach them.

I just agreed to put on a session at a literary fair at a Chicago High School. Students put together the idea and they are in charge of organizing and running things. I really want to see how they run things, so I can hardly wait for May.

Sarah Raplee said...

Major congratulations on your success in writing for young people! I worked in a middle school for two years and loved the energy of these passionate young people. Everything you wrote in this post resonates with me.

You are truly awesome!!!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

BA, you did a beautiful job explaining why teens are so special. Minority of One is a great book. And congrats on the book deal! :-)