But I'm having a problem with YA and my own novels. And it's this:
Twenty-somethings. People in college or recently on their own. Where do their stories go? Are they too old for YA? Too young for adult lit? The only place I've seen twenty-somethings of late have been in chick lit.
Now I know that people say that teens like to read about people their own age or older, but also they say they don't want to read about adults. Now I'm 27, and I'm out of college and living on my own, but I still don't consider myself a real adult. I don't consider myself a teen either, for obvious reasons. I am a young adult, but I don't know that I am a Young Adult. That, of course, doesn't keep me from reading the genre.
But where's the cut off for the characters? 18? They're legally adults, but still teens. 19? The last age to be a teenager, but you're out of high school. 21? Now you can legally drink, but still are seen as immature by many adults. 23? No longer an undergrad, are you still young enough to be YA? 24? Now, we're getting too far, aren't we? When I was little I believed that 24 was when you became an adult. (Now I know better.)
I have main characters of various ages. They range from 14 to 2000-and-something. Maturity-wise, they range from 12 to 26. Does the 2000-going-on-26-year-old belong in YA? I have been told by one reader that pacing-wise and word count-wise, the novel fits YA, but that the MC did seem a little older than YA. When writing DownLoad, which I do consider YA, I had to think hard about the age of the MCs. The male had to be a few years older than the female MC. She had to be in college. So they became 18 and 21. Too old, especially for him? I don't know.
Now I'm writing a new YA novel. I want the characters to be on their own with no parents in the picture. I want the main, main character to depend on the money she gets from her full time job. I feel pressured to make the mains all 18, which seems like it should be a safe YA age. But will YAers relate to someone out of school and living on their own? Or four someones? I hope so.
So what do you guys think? Where do you cut off the acceptable age of a YA main character? At what point do you start to think, "This isn't YA"? And have you read any YA with older main characters and thought that it worked (point me to them please)?