J for juvenescence

Juvenescence means the state or period of being young.

After yesterday’s post on strange words, I’m sure you are not surprised by this title. To be honest, there were letters I found evident, while others gave me a bit of a headache. For the latter, I went to word lists and cherrypicked the ones I liked the most.
The majority of my stories are about young people between 15 and 25. Moon Over Pale Water is the first where the characters are in their 30s, but it is not a big surprise since now I myself am in this age group.
I have always been interested in literature for young readers (mostly the tweens and teens), I wrote my MA first dissertation on a book from this category (if you are interested it was on intertextuality and opium in Philip Pullman’s Ruby in the Smoke) and went on to study Children’s Literature in the University of Roehampton, London. It was one of the best periods of my life, I wrote about the experience here.
So let’s look at the age groups in my novels.
My only outright YA is Our Best Friend’s Alien boyfriend where the characters are fifteen. It’s about changes both in the body and in relationship dynamics. What happens if your best friend gets a boyfriend? What happens if it makes you the only one not in a couple? But what can you do if you’re more interested in the life of Mairie Curie and investigative journalism about the Corn Monster?
The spin-off, Her Majesty’s Alien Spy is set a few years later and shows Robert and Juniper in their late teens-early twenties.
I think my favourite age is between 20-25 though. You’re technically an adult, and I defo felt grown-up and independent But now when I think of like 23 year-olds, I’m like, oh the little babycakes…It also seems like an age-category the publishing industry doesn’t know what to do with, so here comes a tiny rant about my frustration with Macchiatos.
Blue is 19 (or if they really want I can age her up to 20, but not more and SURE AS HECK not less.) and her friend circle are all around 25 with a couple in their mid-30s who are sort of the mums of the group. The mood is very Young Adult in the sense that it is about friends and a budding relationship and not at all about work – a thing I don’t think you’re allowed to do if you write for adults. So people keep suggesting to me that I “age it down” … but 1. I don’t want to because it just wouldn’t work in a high school setting. Also sorry, I don’t want to write about high schoolers in this story. 2. Its current word count is 120 k and I poured my blood, sweat and tears into those words I’m not going to cut it down to 60 – 70 K. Because I just will not.
You would say, yeah but Fanni, there is a publishing category for that which is New Adult – like Fangirl. But there is a whole kerfuffle (I was convinced that this word was written quafuffle – French is taking over my brain…) about how that was a failed marketing experiment and now you are either a teen or a full-fledged adult, no place in-between.
Oh well.
On a more philosophical note, I start to think that youth is overrated. (Yeah, me the wise old 31 yo.) Let me elaborate. Your 20s are great and you should enjoy them while you’re in them, but you shouldn’t spend your 30s, 40s, 50s longing for that feeling. You can never go backwards anyways and hanging too tight to what’s gone holds you back from enjoying what is now. Like I sometimes said to myself “Yeah, but these are things you should have done in your 20s. All the travelling, experimenting, meeting people. It’s over now. Tough luck for you.” Nope, you shouldn’t hold yourself back because of imagined age limits. That’s what I’m working on these days.

2 thoughts on “J for juvenescence”

  1. Very true, about imagined age limits!
    I am also wondering about ages in fiction recently. If a book has young adults as heroes, does it automatically mean it’s a young adult book? Also, is it just a role-player’s instinct to start out a young character because then you don’t have much of a backstory to write?… I am asking myself these questions. We’ll see.

    The Multicolored Diary

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