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Friday, December 10, 2010

YA Genre Battle- Dystopian vs. Historical

During the Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction (hosted by MSFV) on Tuesday, there was serious fighting over a couple of YA Historical manuscripts. Agents were pouncing on one in particular, leaving comments of disappointment if they didn’t win it. With Scholastic coming out with its list of 10 Trends for MG/YA in 2010, it got me wondering…are historicals the future of YA?

Dystopian was firmly on the trend list, as it should be. That said, when the future fizzles out (and sadly, most trends must come to an end, or at least take a healthy break—R.I.P. vampires,werewolves, angels, demons,etc.), who will be there to pick up the pieces? Could YA novels in historical settings become more popular?

Steampunk is already bringing a little bit of old-world style back into vogue, albeit with some pretty cool alterations that may slip into the fantasy realm. Will settings, plots, and characters backed by historical fact be the next big thing? I want to be clear about saying BACKED by historical fact, because we're still talking about historical fiction here, not nonfiction.

It's tough to say whether historicals are going to take over (especially with all the melding of genres going on), and I think Dystopian still has a good amount of gas left in its tank. Check out this awesome entry from the Auction—it’s for a Dystopian novel about ZOMBIE GLADIATORS—sweet.

In terms of YA genres, who would win in the battle ring—a Roman gladiator or Katniss Everdeen?

In honor of my inability to choose between past and future, I declare my winner to be a new sub-genre called (drumroll please):

YA Historical Dystopian Timetravel

Think about it…a young gladiator in ancient Rome is suddenly thrust into a black hole that drops him where? The Hunger Games, of course. Then, through a series of timetravel mishaps, the protagonist manages to save himself in the angst/danger-ridden past thereby saving all of humanity in the even more angst/danger-ridden future. Any takers?

Okay, maybe not.

Anyone have an opinion about historicals being on future trend lists?

Have a great weekend!

**The agent pitch contest on Market My Words runs until midnight tonight--don't forget to follow Shelli's blog to be eligible!


  1. I'm not that into historicals but that said, I always pick them up and I could definitely see them becoming a trend.

    As for the dystopians. I fear that their trend is already winding down, as I've started encountering many 'been done' responses in querying my own dystopian, wherein my writing is complimented, but the agent have sighted 'the number of dystopians and with the 'Hunger Games' rush' they don't see a market. *pouts because it's impossible to have too much dystopia* Hopefully this isn't the case.

  2. A. Grey~ Thanks for the comment, and keep querying that dystopian of yours--there are plenty of agents who are still interested in the genre!

  3. Great post, Jess! You might just be on to something with your time travel scenario...hey, in this day and age, anything goes, right?

    Personally, not a huge fan of historicals - but...I wouldn't say no to reading one in the YA category.

    And a Roman Gladiator vs. Katniss Everdeen? Katniss, hands down...she's pretty badass. :)

    P.S. - Thanks for the link to my blog, too!

  4. youknow, i can't think of one single YA historical that i've read... so... it could be something fresh and fun! although, i'd hate to see the dystopians start to drift away.
    i try not to pay too much attention to trends... mostly because i just do not understand fads... but HEY! i think you could have a winner with your distopian historical timetravel thingy... what do you mean you were joking?

  5. Well, if the popularity of The Prophecy of the Sisters (by Michelle Zink) is to be a judge, I'd definitely say historicals are on the list.

    And yay for dystopian!

  6. Love both dystopian YA and historical YA fiction.

  7. Not too into historical but I could definitely see it coming around. I bet people can do some good stuff with it.

  8. I think dystopian will stick for a good while. I'm not huge on historicals either...sadly, my current wip doesn't fall into either category. Of course, it doesn't have any angels, demons, vampires or werewolves in it either... it's all about timing, right? And my vote between Katniss and Gladiator? Katniss for sure! She'd improvise and out-smart Mr. Brute-force - easy.

  9. Interesting analysis and prediction - maybe historical fiction could provide an escape from the wave of grim, albeit brilliant, dystopian novels out there.

    Happy to discover your blog.

  10. My 14 yr old daughter loves historical amongst all the other mash up of fiction she reads - but specifically 20th century/ WWII. I know a lot of older kids who love steampunk.

    Victoriana is huge - bear in mind our YA's read things like Lemony Snicket and Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines in their younger teen days, so I think there's huge scope for both these areas. Not forgetting teens love anthying mildly jaded, so dystopia will never be out of the picture. Orwell's 1984 is in my daughter's birthday list of books for after Christmas.

    Lots of online up and coming distopia-based publishing ops and comps, so what the hang... why not? YA's have an awful lot to comment on - we are what we moulded ourselves out of what has come before, we speculate on what is still to come. I think there is a really exciting time ahead with YA fiction.

  11. OOOh, I love the idea of historical dystopian timetravel! my lastest project is a historical fantasy so I'm excited to hear that historicals are getting bid up!

  12. Agents fighting over a manuscript ... now that IS a fantasy!

  13. I've read some great YA historicals this year: Prisoners in the Palace, Faithful, Dangerous Neighbors, Three Rivers Rising, We Hear the Dead. Good stuff.

  14. I hope you're right about historicals surviving! :o) I tend to write them even when I don't mean to.

    Add a letter-carrying owl service to your zombie gladiator pitch and I'm sure you'll have it sold in no time! LOL!

    Have a great night, Jess!

  15. It was interesting watching what the agents fought over in the MSFV auction, wasn't it!

    I hope Dystopian keeps going for a long time - love it!


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