Kim Harrison is a Smuggler Favorite author, penning the bestselling adult Urban Fantasy series, The Hollows (which also happens to be Thea’s all time favorite Urban Fantasy series). This year, she has decided to branch out her formidable writing talent into the world of Young Adult fiction, starting a brand new series in a universe separate from her Rachel Morgan books. We loved her first Young Adult novel, Once Dead, Twice Shy, and are thrilled to have Kim back here again on The Book Smugglers to talk about writing YA, how it differs from her other work, and her inspirations and influences.
Please give it up for the wonderful Kim Harrison!
Kim Harrison, adult or YA writer?
It has been a fabulous couple of months for me with the Supernatural Summer tour to help me kick off my debut into the young adult genre with Once Dead, Twice Shy, the beginning of a three book series through Harper Teen. When I first sat down to write Once Dead, Twice Shy, I never imagined I’d have the chance to be included in a multi-author tour and be given the opportunity to meet the readers of such fabulous YA writers as Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Aprilynne Pike, and Claudia Gray, all so warm and welcoming. But my favorite YA novels are still the ones I read while I was growing up. The Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, (which was marketed for adult when it came out.) Just about anything from Heinlein, and of course Ray Bradbury. All heavy on the science fiction and fantasy, heavy with adult themes cleverly disguised under an adventurous storyline. It was with that in mind that I wrote Once Dead, Twice Shy, trying to steer clear of YA romance (where I have no business writing) and craft something that I hoped both the adult and the young adult reader might enjoy.
In some ways, the transition from writing adult to young adult was easy. I think that the young adult audience likes a lot of the same things that the adult audience does. A strong-willed main character who isn’t moping about her life all the time, one who sees injustice and takes action, and one who has friends to help her. But the young adult audience is more savvy than ever, and to talk down to them, to give them too-simple a story with thin world building and shallow characters is risking that they won’t read the next. Romance is brand new, and experiences have higher highs, and lower lows. It’s a fine line to walk, and I hope that I’ve managed to keep my balance. When I write for the YA audience, I do try to put myself back in a younger frame of mind where concerns don’t include mortgages, but instead friends, fitting in, and finding a place in the world–stuff that we carry with us into adulthood.
Why make the switch? Some people have asked me, and for that, I just smile. I saw the reason at the Supernatural Summer signings time and again, reaffirming my resolve to give this my all. My adult readers came out to see me on tour, but they didn’t come alone. More often than not, when one of my books was slid across the table to me, there was a copy of Once Dead, Twice Shy on top, and next to a beaming parent was a teen, sometimes eager, sometimes bored, sometimes shy, but there because Mom or Dad wanted to share that good feeling they got from my work with their son or daughter, they wanted to talk to their kid about something they both experienced, and perhaps they wanted to pass their love of reading on–if they hadn’t already. If I could be a part of that, if I could share my own love of reading, the breathless “what if” with someone new . . . then I would feel like I’d done something real and worthwhile.
And that’s why I write YA.
The only girl in a large family of boys, former tomboy Kim Harrison invented the first Brigadier General Barbie in self-defense. She shoots a very bad game of pool and rolls a very good game of dice. When not at her keyboard, she enjoys lounging on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching action movies with The-Guy-In-The-Leather-Jacket. She plays her Ashiko drum when no one is listening, and is hard to find when the moon is new.
We are giving away one copy of Once Dead, Twice Shy to a lucky reader! The contest is open to anyone in the US or Canada, and will run until Sunday July 26 at midnight (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here. Good luck!