Women to Watch for in YA Literature

By Jenna DeTrapani

In celebration of International Women’s Day today, March 8, I have been thinking about the women who have made some form of impact on the YA scene this past year. I am not exactly a “feminist” but I would like to take a moment to highlight these women and their contributions. Many of them have changed the entire landscape of young adult literature as well as the way that the industry is perceived by society today. (I am not a reporter, these are simply my thoughts on the subject.)

Book to Film

Hunger Games

Books by women, such as the Hunger Games, are being adapted to film at an increased rate.

As we all know, film production studios have been jumping at the bit to acquire the latest in young adult trends and have been releasing numerous novels on film these past few years. It all (arguably) started with the Big Two: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and the Harry Potter franchise by J.K. Rowling. Two women whom, as we all know, have impacted both the film and book industries in major ways.These women opened the door for other aspiring authors, who never thought that they could be published, to actually write. Both Meyer and Rowling started in humble beginnings and now they are making millions.

In 2012 the trend continues as films like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are either released or start production. In addition, film rights for other popular young adult novels have recently been acquired; novels such as The Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck (Paramount Pictures), Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Universal Pictures) and (albeit in limbo) the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. It is possible that these movies have the potential to be the next Twilight? Will these women be the next J.K Rowling or Stephenie Meyer? If filming goes without a hitch, it is possible, since stories made into internationally released movies allows for much larger marketing potential (dollars) and audiences than those stories that are limited to the young adult shelves in your local book store.

From Zero to Hero

Have you noticed? In the current world of young adult literature, we are finding more and more authors arriving from out of nowhere. Publishers are more willing to accept submissions from authors who have no real background in English literature, creative writing or the publishing industry – they are instead seeking out those who come from “humble beginnings”, as did the Big Two mentioned above. They are looking for new and creative ideas to sell in the marketplace.

Such outreach is paving the way for a much wider selection of books on our shelves. It is also causing one of the fastest growths in the industry in recent literary history. If you walk into your local Barnes & Noble, you will likely notice that the Young Adult section is now larger than the Mystery, Romance and Science Fiction sections (and sometimes a mixture of these three combined). The section is continuing to grow in size as inventory and demand increases. One could fear the possibility of over-saturation in the industry, where supply outgrows demand, but for the time being it appears to be a trend that is going strong. It may grow even stronger thanks to the e-book industry and the general opinion that the audience for YA is no longer limited to “young adults”. According to a study conducted in 2011, “Juvenile books, which include the current young-adult craze for paranormal and dystopian fiction, grew 6.6 percent over three years.”^

One such example of the potential for aspiring YA authors in the publishing/e-book world is the existence of companies such as Entangled Publishing. Entangled is a company that exists thanks to female entrepreneur, Liz Pelletier, co-founder and managing partner of Savvy Media Services, which owns Savvy Authors, Savvy Readers, and (that’s right) Entangled Publishing. The Entangled imprint brings together new authors and gives them the opportunity to break into the marketplace. They have already contracted over one hundred seventy-five titles within nine months of launch, many of which are women. If this isn’t inspiring for those breaking the industry, I don’t know what else is. They know what trends people are after and they are looking for the authors who can provide it.

On “Trends”

Julie Kagawa, author of the Iron Fey series, has had great influence on the subject of fairies.

On the topic of trends in the YA scene we typically think “vampires”, “paranormal” and “dystopian” – and for good reason. Those are quite possibly the trends that may have sparked the whole young adult craze to begin with. But in recent years, new trends have appeared. One thing publishers know is that if there is a demand it will be written. And apparently, there is a demand for fairies and angels these days. But who have been the movers and shakers for each of these trends?

As with all things, trends do not always lead to positive outcomes and it is hard to give credit to any singular person, but it is apparent that many women have led the way in trends in young adult literature.

Arguably, Julie Kagawa holds much credit for the growing interest in fairy novels. Her Iron Fey series, consisting of four individual novels and multiple “e-novellas”, has garnered a large following that will likely increase when she ventures into the realm of vampires with her upcoming Blood of Eden series. Other movers in the fairy trend include authors Aprilynne Pike (Wings) and Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely). As for the angel craze, with the release of recent novels such as Embrace by Jessica Shirvington, Illuminate by Aimee Agresti, and the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, this is one trend that likely will not go away anytime soon. Arguably, the recently released Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand appears to hold the most clout within the industry as far as the subject of angels is concerned, but many would argue that the true onset of the angel craze began with the Kissed by an Angel series by Elizabeth Chandler.

Dystopian novels are the wave of the future...

Other “movers and shakers” to watch for in the YA scene include those authors who have jumped onto the dystopian bandwagon. The onset of so many dystopian novels have created a new audience that stretches across age groups, nationality and gender, so the possibility for a book to be put to film in this genre is far greater than that of a fairy or angel novel. This may lead to greater overall success for the author of such novels. Who knows? It is likely that we will see names such as Lissa Price (Starters), Kristen Simmons (Article 5) or maybe even Beth Revis (whose Across the Universe series is seen as a dystopic sci-fi) in film some day…

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. It truly is inspiring to see these women who came from nowhere obtain great success. To learn more about International Women’s Day visit: www.internationalwomensday.com.

New York Times “Publishing Gives Hints of Revival, Data Show” By Julie Bosman, August 9, 2011

About Jenna (Does Books)

Working momma of a little pink princess and reader of all things YA. I'm an artist, writer and avid reader who swears that she's having a hard time letting go of the childish things... Let me read your latest YA book and let's see if it makes the grade!

Posted on March 8, 2012, in Article and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I should really read the Iron Fey novels. I feel like i would like them alot!

  2. What a great post! Hurray for women in lit! Lately I’ve been feeling like all the authors I’ve been reading are women, which is exciting considering how much smaller the female demographic was not that long ago.

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