Contemporary Romance, YA Style — What do you love about it?

2013 RWA conference pic~ By PJ Sharon

When I began writing fiction in 2007, I was enamored with Paranormal Romance, had been reading a lot of historical, and could not wait for tomes by such greats as Diana Gabaldon and Nora Roberts (love her Eve Dallas character). I spent four years writing adult romance in various forms, but never quite mastered deep point of view (POV). When someone suggested I try writing in first person narrative, my new found voice catapulted me into the young adult genre. To test the waters, I began reading YA literature—mostly written in first person. I fell in love with Bella and Edward (c’mon…who didn’t?), lost myself in the Hunger Games trilogy, and read every Sarah Dessen novel I could get my hands on. My writing flourished and I quickly realized that my inner teen had stories to tell, and that she wasn’t finished with me yet. HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA poured out of me in rapid succession. Since none of them “quite fit the market”, and because I’m impatient and somewhat driven, I decided to self-publish.

Almost three years into my indie-publishing journey, after a side trip to Dystopia with my Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, I’m happy to release my fourth Contemporary YA novel, called PIECES of LOVE.

What I enjoy about writing YA is that the emotion is so raw. Everything has an impact, and big things have a big impact. This is Lexi’s story in PIECES of LOVE:

Sixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to smoke pot and play guitar. Getting high and escaping into her music seems the perfect solution when her world is shattered by her sister’s death. But when she’s arrested for possession a second time, life couldn’t get any more complicated. Her mother’s breakdown is the final straw that forces Lexi to spend the summer on the West Coast with her grandmother, Maddie. When Lexi steps over the line one too many times, she’s certain her life is over and that she’s destined for juvenile detention—until Maddie decides that desperate measures are called for. A three week Mediterranean cruise—for seniors.

Eighteen year-old Ethan Kaswell, the poster child for good sons, is stranded on the cruise when his father, a famous heart surgeon, is called away. With his own life perfectly mapped out, Ethan finds Lexi’s unpredictability irresistible. Although he’s smart enough to see that there is no future in falling for a “vacation crush,” Lexi’s edgy dark side draws him like an anchor to the bottom of the sea. As the two embark on the journey of a lifetime, will Lexi finally learn to love someone—even when she has to let them go?

How’s that for teen drama and angst? What I also love about YA romance is the newness of the experiences. First kisses, steamy ‘almost’ moments, and the constant push pull of hearts as teens struggle to figure out who they are and how to deal with the world around them, including a first love. Talk about high stakes? I don’t know about you, but I remember my young adult years well, and although you couldn’t pay me enough to repeat the experience, writing it feels like a kind of do-over—one where I can set the scene and control the outcome. It’s been very healing for me on many levels.

The other hallmark of YA Romance that I love is the hopefully ever after endings. Since resolving their emotional issues and inner conflicts is the focus of the character’s journey, we aren’t expecting our hero and heroine to ride off into the sunset. There’s an open-endedness, a hope for a better tomorrow, and the possibility of lasting love in the final pages. True character growth and a sappy epilogue that makes me cry, is as satisfying in YA as any happily ever after in an adult romance.

What do you love about Contemporary Young Adult Romance?

Award winning author PJ Sharon has published several contemporary young adult novels, including Molly finalist, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, FAB Five finalist, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, 2013 HOLT Medallion winner and winner of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. She is excitedly working on The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA Dystopian trilogy.

Writing romantic fiction since 2007 and following her destiny to write romantic fiction for teens and beyond, PJ is a member of  RWA, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.


2 thoughts on “Contemporary Romance, YA Style — What do you love about it?”

  1. Hey, Vicki, thanks for commenting and for the well wishes. One of my books, SAVAGE CINDERELLA is written in deep third person and has alternating POV between the heroine, the hero and even a few chapters from the villain to give you the suspense feel. Third person narrative works well for multiple POV’s and alternating chapters when you need to have dialogue and conveyance of information among multiple characters. But as limiting as first person POV can be, it also allows the writer to stay in the main character’s head and keeps readers invested solely in that character’s experience. i love writing from this viewpoint and really getting into the nitty gritty of what makes the character tick. Keep writing!

  2. Hi, PJ! I don’t write Young Adult romance. I have written a lot of short romantic comedies in first person. First person is my favorite pov. No, we don’t see other character’s pov, but we get a good deep pov. Congratulations on your work!

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