Friday, January 11, 2013

Does YA + Female Author = Romance?

You might know, if you've been reading my blog, that I've been on the search for YA that's entertaining without being heavy on the romance. Actually, to be more precise, I'd like very little romance and when it does turn up, I'd like it to be natural, believable and sweet. I want to really like the love interest and care about the relationship he has with the MC, instead of getting annoyed or frustrated at either her or him. I'm beginning to think that's a tall order for today's YA.

To quote Belle, "I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell!" (Although, I can't help but wonder if Belle ever got the adventure she wanted outside the relationship she had with the Beast.)

When I brought this topic up to a few fellow writers recently, one of them said, "Don't read female authors". I was taken aback. I was stunned. I was a little insulted. I began to wonder if YA + Female Author = Romance. (At least if the female author is writing about a female protagonist.) I believe it's possible to find a female YA author writing a female protag without a romantic goal. She might be trying to save the world, a family member, herself, or unravel some mystery, kill a monster, etc. But if she stumbles across a boy along the way, it'd be nice if their relationship developed naturally and didn't turn her into an idiot who can no longer do anything without him.

When I think of the YA I've read with memorable female protags who have nonromantic goals, and are written in a style that entertains me right to the end, I realize that the authors are mostly male. I'm hoping I've just been missing all the lady writers somehow. I'm going to keep looking, including accepting recommendations I've already gotten for some YA (or NA) with these qualities. If I find enough, I'll make a list of all the low-romance or high-adventure YA (that doesn't simply replace romance with blood and violence) and post it on this blog.

So, what do you think? Has it become a standard that YA + Female Author = Romance? In that case, it kind of makes me wish I was a male writer, since they apparently don't have such a requirement.


  1. SJ Kincaid's Insignia is pretty good, although it has a male MC.

    ...Okay I'm finding it embarrassingly difficult to come up with more... I guess I just read more male authors...

    ...I feel a sudden need to run away and research this. There must be plenty of female authors out there who don't write heavily romantic plots. Surely I'm just blanking now that I'm actually consciously trying to think of some.

  2. I have a feeling you'll like my books when they come out. There's definitely romance and it's definitely part of the plot, but it's not a "OMGHESSOHOTISWOON" style romance. And in Book 2... Well, I can't say anything about that one, but I do think you'll like them. :D

  3. Anything that improves upon the premature swooning would be a good thing! Swooning is fine if I'm right there swooning with her, of course. ^_^

  4. Yep! It's harder than you think! I thought of the Looking Glass Wars books, but they're written by a male author too! The only one I can come up with of what I've read so far is Gail Carson Levine. I'm definitely going to have to look further into this.

    I'm also planning on being (when someone eventually reps me) one of those female authors I've been looking so hard for. There's a definite hole in the genre that needs filling.

  5. It does feel like this at the moment, doesn't it? We seem to be in a horrific "all the romance all the time - and, oh yeah, there's a story too" trend that we can't get away from. And even some male authors are delving into it too! I hope readers start demanding more substance soon.

    You'd probably enjoy my current WIP! I actually had to ADD some type of romance in (to fit the current market trends), but even in it's current state there isn't much. My female MC is out to do what she needs to and when she stumbles upon a guy she eventually likes it's more about respect than anything really romantic. There is some violence, but it's part of the story and NOT a replacement.

    I'm sure I've read others (because I love this kind of story myself), but a recent one that immediately springs to mind is Gail Carriger's ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, which I highly recommend. (It comes out February 5th - I'll be posting a review on it soon.)

    Good luck with your search and I look forward to your list, if you ever find enough titles to make one! :)

  6. I don't think it's the standard or expected. I do know, though, that I'm a female writer of YA and I love writing romantic stuff. :)

  7. Authors who write romance won't have any problem at all finding readers of it. Be glad! You're not only in the majority here, but can count on readers waiting with open arms for more of what you write. I can't wait for adventure YA or boy-oriented YA to be represented as strongly by female writers as romance is.

  8. I'm hoping this trend will have a backswing and action/adventure type YA will trend. The closest we have to that now are books like Hunger Games, which includes both action and romance and appeals to a wider audience than just girl readers between 14-18. More of that, and not just dystopian, would be a start.

    Right now, YA is turning into an extension of the romance section and doesn't draw boy readers. I'd like to see that change in the near future. We've done a great job representing girl protags, but the boys have fallen down the cracks. More boys in YA (and not just foils or boyfriends for girl MCs) would be great to see.

    Your WIP sounds like a change in the trend. I hope it does really well when it's time to query it. Good luck!

    Gail Carriger's stuff (Parasol Protectorate) has been recommended to me before and I will definitely have to check it out! Thanks!


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