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Friday, August 20, 2010

Dead Faeries, Bloody Make-up, and a Question-of-the-Day

My fifteen-year-old stepdaughter has been doing early Halloween costume planning, and she has it down to two possibilities: A dead fairy (sorry, faerie) or the Mad Hatter.

“Oh, you’ve read Alice in Wonderland?” I asked her. Idiotic question.

I received a blank stare in return. “Johnny Depp. The movie ALICE IN WONDERLAND? Hello? I’ll probably be the faerie though.”

When asked the reason, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Faeries are cool. It’s Halloween, so dead stuff is cool too. Plus, I get to look really pretty, but with bloody make-up.”

Normally, I might be disturbed by that last comment, but she’s a healthy, happy girl in general, all texting aside. That said, her choice made me think about the publishing industry, especially MG/YA’s emphasis on novels that involve an element of magic, fantasy, or paranormal. Is the faerie trend over? I kind of hope not, because I haven’t gotten a chance to read enough of it. But I don't know.

According to a few agents, some of whom helped out at the recent WriteOnCon events (SUCH a wonderful conference), vampires, werewolves, faeries, angels, demons…all out. All reasons to hit the rejection button. There is simply too much traffic in these areas.

Dystopian and zombies might not be far behind, hanging on by a rotted piece of post-apocalyptic flesh (by the way, check out Janice Hardy’s zombie-joke giveaway in my contest links).

This line of thinking makes the links at the top right (Opinions On Future Trends) pretty interesting; they are from April and June of this year, and don’t seem to think that these trends are "over.” Overall, I think what we might be seeing is the difference between what is selling and what agents are taking on (maybe because of the long road from nabbing an agent to nabbing a publishing contract).

BUT, BUT, BUT, even if plots about the undead are destined to die out soon, the widespread consensus is that exceptions are always possible. I’ve read many recent interviews where the agent says they are specifically looking for paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dystopian YA, etc. Exceptions are everywhere—it’s just another reason to really spend time searching for agents could be a match before submitting queries. That’s the thing about the publishing industry—widespread consensus of anything isn’t necessarily a reason to change your genre, angle, or story. Write a story that people want to read. Then find an agent who will represent it.

If you’re interested in writing about topics that happen to be trendy right now, right on! Oops, I meant write on…either way works. Just make sure you’re hitting the readers in an inventive way. That means research, possibly in the form of internet searches. Have an idea for a MG novel with a bully? Google it, and see what bully novels are out already out there. Hey, but what if your bully happens to have cerebral palsy? An antagonist who is a jerkwad of a kid with a heartbreaking disease…now that might be interesting.

And if you don’t write edgy YA, steampunk YA (which I fully plan on reading more of soon—very cool concepts), paranormal YA, urban fantasy YA, then that’s okay too. Just query Steven Malk (kidding, but he’s a kickass agent who has been vocal about taking good writing that will stand the test of time over trendy plots—not that trendy plots can’t have amazing writing and not that the majority of agents aren’t totally kickass too- they are! Whew, this whole blogosphere disclaimer stuff can be exhausting).

Which brings me to a question regarding trends. There are so many hot topics out there right now—do any of you readers/writers have an opinion of what the next big thing might be in middle grade or young adult fiction? Anybody read any good blog posts about it?

I’ve heard things about more contemporary/realistic middle grade hitting the scene, but who knows?


Thanks, and have a wonderful weekend.


  1. I found your blog through your comment on Janice Hardy's Find Your Plot Friday post. :) Nice looking blog, by the way.

    I write MG paranormal and fantasy, but usually I don't have any of the creatures you listed above. Did the agents say anything about ghosts in MG? That's what my next novel is going to be about.

    I have a list of agents who rep MG, and a lot of them are looking for MG ghost stories, so I hope ghosts aren't out yet.

    I like the bully idea, and I think someone should write a book about dark fairies. I haven't read any fairie books, really, but most of the ones I've heard of are about bright, sparkly fairies. What about ones that are dark, that like eating humans? :P

    A trend that I'm noticing in MG and YA is first person present tense. This includes The Hunger Games, Al Capone Does My Shirts, and Wintergirls, among many others. It seems to usually be used by writers who write "poetic" prose and literary stories, with the exception of the HG and Al Capone.

  2. Welcome Brittany, and thanks for the comment! Ghosts seem to be hot right now--excellent choice for a premise. I know Mary Kole, among others, is clamoring for them)--best of luck with your manuscript and thanks for the input about first person present. I've been meaning to read the Al Capone book :)

  3. Yeah, I saw on Mary Kole's manuscript wish list that she wants ghost stories, plus I love ghost stories, so that's why I'm going to write one. :)

  4. And just a few years ago, they didn't want ghost stories. I wonder if they are anticipating a new trend.