I walked into a bookstore yesterday and the first shelf I saw was the one where the sign read “Teen Fiction.” This was not by accident. The store owner (independent) located this shelf of books in the most prominent location in the store. This tells me “Teen” is the market they are trying to tap right now. Even Chapters has rearranged their whole store, elevating the children’s section on its own terrace prominently above the rest of the store, with the teen section right out in front.
What I noticed from the quick perusal of the books was that they all seemed to have a gothic theme, (using the term gothic loosely), as in that there were all about witches, magicians, vampires, changelings, and all manner of other worldly beings. Terror at its most pleasing. I can see the allure of this type of story. Ordinary teens finding extraordinary things about themselves, or others, or both, is a fundamental escape to feel like you could be unique, (at least more so than any of the other seven billion people on the planet), and you just may not know it yet.
I did a quick mental image of my novel someday sitting on this shelf, but I couldn’t help feeling it wouldn’t really fit in amongst the rest. If I am thinking commercially with regards to my own creative endeavors, maybe I should start writing a teen novel right now where the main character is the last living descendent of Merlin, or where he or she discovers the local science teacher is immortal and used to chum with Ptolemy.
But, alas, I look to the stars for my inspiration. I love to write about space travelers and ancient aliens. Apparently, I’ve been irrevocably imprinted by George Lucas, because the first story I remember was written a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars left its mark on me more so than any Nancy Drew mystery ever did. And I loved the movie John Carter. Edgar Rice Burroughs came up with an amazing story. Yet I appear to be in the minority of fans for the movie based on his books. Maybe it just wasn’t ‘gothic’ enough for today’s audiences.
I know I need to get writing for the joy of it, not for any other reason. Maybe my novel about Navigators, who are able to open doorways between planets, is not in vogue right now, but that’s the story I have inside me, and I truly want to take the time to get more of it out on paper. Here’s to getting some writing done before classes start up again in September.