YA romance is a ton of fun to write. But it’s also mysterious and challenging, because my flirting days are long over (though we still try). I do love digging deep into the recesses of my brain and finding that airy, goofy feeling that first love can cause. Case in point: 12/22/09 is the 26th anniversary of the first dance I shared with my silly, sweet, charming high school beau. See? I still remember.
I also like untypical YA romance. In SKY, Morgan’s neighbor Tessa declares her affection for Morgan by 1) punching her in the shoulder, and 2) shuffling through a back yard of snow to write “MC + TR” inside a huge heart. Tessa stays away from public acknowledgement because she knows both she and Morgan would get the shit beat out of them. In BEAUTIFUL MUSIC, Gabe and Paige get into “I’ve fallen for my best friend” love–complete with flirting–but nobody knows what to do from there, and the situation is complicated even further by Gabe’s trans-ness. In my WIP, there’s more cross-cultural love. This stuff matters to me because there are all kinds of teenagers falling in love in the real world and not all of them are typical boy/girl romances.
I chose Ennis and Jack for my photo because I think BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is the most gut-wrenching love story of the last five years. That kind of unrequited, unavailable romance is something 95% of us recognize, no matter who the players are. Gorgeous film. Gorgeous acting. Heartbreaking story. Devastating emotions. And YA love is tons like this film–beautiful and awful, all at the same time.
I said I wasn’t going to talk about emotions anymore, but you have to mention romance if you’re going to mention YA. Lately you should mention sparkly vampire romance (gak, eek, no!). But I shall refrain.