Fiona Snyckers: It is because books get prescribed at school
Author photograph provided by Jonathan BallFiona Snyckers is the author of the popular Trinity-series. Trinity is a smart, sussed teenager who shares all sorts of tips on Fiona’s website. I asked Fiona how she sees YA literature. In the USA #IreadYA week is being celebrated. Now I am curious: In Afrikaans (and therefore in English-speaking SA too) we are more likely to talk about youth literature than young adult literature. Is that a shortcoming? I think it’s because youth literature, in terms of books that are written for teens and prescribed in schools, is quite well established in SA, whereas young adult as a genre is not. This is rapidly changing as we develop our own home-grown YA literature. The YA usage is becoming much more common and better understood. Writing for this market is very difficult. Why are you doing so? I think it’s because my character, Trinity Luhabe, exists in the crossover world between YA and women’s fiction. As I think of more stories to tell about her, I find myself gravitating towards her teenage years. YA is a very exciting genre to be part of. YA stories have really set the world alight in the last few years, spawning blockbuster movies and luring teenagers and adults alike back to books. There is a difference between children’s literature and youth literature. How would you explain it? (And, bring YA into if you want?) These categorisations are necessarily fluid, just as the reading interests of children and teenagers are fluid – even volatile. They are used by booksellers to group books on different shelves with age recommendations and as such serve a purpose. But as a writer you need to be aware that themes you might cover in a YA novel would not necessarily be suitable for an age 12-15 novel or an age 10-12 novel. Still, the chances are that people outside the strict age categories will read your book. If you have to recommend three YA books, which would they be? Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Scarlett O’Hara is 16 at the beginning of the book). The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Lord of the Flies by William Golding.