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Do you write what you read?

Here on the YA Highway, Kristin O. recently pondered the notion of reading outside of the genre one writes, but lately I've been thinking about something else: how many of us write in the genres we read as young adults?

When I was a teenager (and I'm pretty far from my young adult years), I read a ton of horror novels. In fact, I read pretty much EVERY horror novel that was published in the eighties (and there were a lot of horror novels published in the eighties). Okay, I'm exaggerating, of course, but these are definitely the stories that shaped my adolescence and shaped my understanding of storytelling. I also read a lot of YA books because my father worked for newspaper and he would bring home armfuls of random ARCs...and I read them all. I even read young adult horror novels. Remember Dark Forces?

Based on that history, maybe it would make sense that I would write horror stories. Only I don't. And to be fair, I don't read much horror anymore, either, but those are still the stories I associate with that developmental stage of life.

What about you? Do you write what you read as a teen? Has your reading or writing tastes changed over time? 


Stephanie Kuehn

Stephanie is the William C. Morris award-winning author of Charm & Strange, Complicit, Delicate Monsters, and The Smaller Evil.

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26 comments:

  1. I actually DON'T write what I read as a teen. I started reading fantasy in grade 5 and didn't stop until a few years ago (I sitll read it occasionally). I always thought I'd write fantasy but so far- nope! I've tried but it just doesn't work out well for me.

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    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one! It's interesting how that works. Thanks for sharing that. :)

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  2. I definitely write based on what I read as a teenager (the same stuff I still read). I read a lot of high fantasy (a LOT of Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, and Anne McCaffry) in middle school and high school, with brief forays into urban fantasy and scifi.

    I keep trying to break out of that mold, but the writing that I don't want to throw out a window after I've finished it is still YA fantasy and high fantasy. I feel like I really should write something else so that I'm not stuck in one genre, but I do love my fantasy. :P

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    1. Oh, I don't think there's anything wrong about sticking to one genre! Some authors seem to cross genres really well, but there's something to be said for not wanting to throw your work out a window. :D

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  3. I read a lot of fantasy as a teen, and I still do, and that's also what I write. If anything, I read MORE fantasy now than I did back then.

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    1. Ah, that's neat to know you've stayed with your passion for so long. And maybe the connection has to do with current reading taste driving writing preference? I'm not sure.

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  4. I still am a teen, and I read/write horror and mystery. I could grow out of it, I guess, but I don't think I will. It's just much more interesting to me. Mysteries/thrillers are great because they're more psychological, and I love that, so I write it as well as read it.

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    1. Thanks, Dunya! I do love mysteries and psychological thrillers very much. I think maybe it was the gore/supernatural horror that I grew out of, although there are definitely some horror novels that still hold a special place in my heart(Dan Simmons's SUMMER OF NIGHT is a great one; also Straub's SHADOWLAND and McCammon's USHER'S PASSING). Happy reading and writing!

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  5. When I was a teen and younger, I was completely obsessed with being "well read." If it wasn't Literature (with a capital L), I wouldn't read it (at least not in public). I think the main reason behind my penchant for "L" was that it wasn't enough for me to be smart (jury is still out on that one); I wanted everyone else to think I was smart too (Think: I would write quotes from Hamlet and Jane Eyre with sidewalk chalk on the road just so people could see how utterly intelligent *snort* I was). "L" was the way to do it.

    Over high school and college, I tried writing "L" a million times over, but nothing every jived for me. I couldn't come up with anything that sucked me in as a writer, so I knew it would never work for anyone who might one day want to read my material. Then, one day, I discovered, "Hey, YA sci-fi is pretty awesome. Let me write that instead." Now, I read, write, and breathe YA (mostly sci-fi/fantasy/dystopia). And I'm in love. I'm in love with the genre, and I'm in love with writing again.

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    1. Oh, April, I'm so glad you found your genre! That must be a wonderful feeling, and I certainly relate to those feelings of what I "should" be doing versus what I love. Happy writing!

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    2. Thanks for responding. I <3 when people respond to posts. It makes it more of a conversation. :)

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  6. As a child, I read mostly adventure and anything on the Newbery list. In middle school, it was teen romance. High school= adult fiction and literature. Now, YA. It's because of this I love YA and write YA. My WIP is YA sci-fi, but the story before was YA fantasy.

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    1. I think it's fascinating how taste and interests change over time and throughout life changes. I love YA, too. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. I read a lot of fantasy novels in my teen years, and that was the genre I started writing in... but now not so much. I haven't strayed very far, but I haven't written fantasy in a long, long time. I guess I just want to try genres that I'm not as comfortable with as fantasy. I love fantasy, but I like to try new things as well.

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    1. That makes perfect sense. It is fun and challenging to try new things, rather than the familiar. Thank you!

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  8. I was a serious mystery geek as a kid/teen (Nancy Drew, Agathan Christie, A Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Sue Grafton...). Now, I write contemporary YA verse novels--a form I basically didn't know existed when I was younger (well, I guess there's that whole Paradise Lost thing from college). As an adulty, I read across genres, though mostly YA, and my favorite books are just things that are beautifully written in any category (THE BOOK THIEF, LIFE OF PI, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, ENDERS GAME, anything by Holly Black, Sara Zarr or Courtney Summers). I apparently also enjoy long lists and parentheticals :)

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    1. Ha ha ha...I had to laugh when I read this: I apparently also enjoy long lists and parentheticals. Me too.

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    2. Ha, that made me laugh, too. I love that list. And how cool to discover your calling in verse novels.

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  9. This is a really thought-provoking question... I certainly read historical fiction when I was a teen, and now I write historical fantasy. I read LOTR, but I don't write high fantasy like those books. I think I ended up in a genre smack in between Tolkien and Philippa Gregory. (Now if only I were as talented a writer as them!)

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    1. Thanks, Cayla! I agree, I think it's interesting to look back at the evolution of one's reading, as well as writing, and see the influences.

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  11. My reading "coming of age" didn't really come until I was in college. My parents are not readers, so it was never emphasized. I somehow got into religious fiction in intermediate school and unfortunately, didn't branch out from that much (other than Harry Potter and Madeline L'engle's books). I didn't like the books we read at school, because I didn't want to be forced into reading. My secret: I actually liked a lot of those books, but acted like I didn't because that's what everyone else did and I thought I would be judged if people thought I was a reader. I am so glad I got over that!

    In college however, I discovered YA and middle grade fantasy and fell in love. I connected with them more than any other book before. I like to read other genres as well, but those YA's keep calling me back to them. That's the genre I plan on writing in. I'm in the planning stages of my first novel and will start writing in a few weeks. Who knows what I'll actually end up writing long term, but I sure am rooting for YA. :)

    Thanks for a post that got me thinking about my reading history and my writing future. It was fun!

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    1. I love the phrase "reading 'coming of age'." That's perfect. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and best of luck with your novel!

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  12. Only recently I started even writing what I best like to read. Dystopian is my favourite flavour! But I write mostly fantasy. I, er, am a teen, so I suppose I sort of write what I read. ;)

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  13. I've read a lot of Michael Crichton books, and I've always liked how he writes, so sometimes my writing emulates his. I try to avoid it too much though, because his books are SUPER LONG and I want my books to be much shorter. Also his books tend to be plot and world driven and mine are more character driven.

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Item Reviewed: Do you write what you read? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: stephanie kuehn