Go Ask Lev #9: All About Young Adult Fiction

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Young Adult

Hi Lev

Why do you write YA (Young Adult) fiction? Why do you feel you need to reach these keeds?

Kevin M,


Hi Kevin.

Thank you for asking a question about my favorite topic: me.

For those of you who don’t know, I write Young Adult fiction in novels, including the eventually upcoming book Black Sabbath with John Hamburg. Please tattoo that information on your face for future reference.

But I’ve been writing YA before then too, in unsold novels, unpublished plays, and even Thought Catalog pieces for a few simple reasons.

The first reason is that this is just what I’m meant to do. It’s tautological, but this is the gravity that keeps bringing back. I tried to write a modern, edgy gangster book. I really did! It was bad. Real bad. Through edits and rewrites it turned into a decent but not good enough YA/Gangster hybrid about a deluded and charming sociopathic teen crook.

All the best parts were grounded in the YA. All the weakest parts were when I wasn’t.

So, that’s just what I do. Why? Let’s analyze what I love about YA.

-The audience. Nobody reads better than young adults, because they have nothing to prove. They don’t read books to talk about on dates, or to show off on subways – they read because they want to.

-The style. Young Adult as a genre cares about emotion, style, character, and story. Adult literature cares about those things too, but its often gussied up. Too many books are complex, groaning 700 page treatises about human nature and (insert jerk-off motion here.) YA books are books with a simple, true purpose. Adult books are too often about an author showing off; and, even if they aren’t, I’m not yet smart or talented enough to write a book that complicated.

-The market. People want to read and buy Young Adult novels! That isn’t about the money – there’s not enough money to do this for any reason but love – but for the audience. If you write, you want to be read. If you speak, you want to be heard. And the wonderful thing about Young Adult novels is you have the largest, most dedicated and most upbeat audience in all of literature.

Hope that helps!



Hi Lev,

I’m 18 years old, taking classes at a community college right now, and I’m finding it really hard to make friends.

It’s not because I don’t like people or can’t talk to them, but because I feel like it’s mostly one-sided. Like, I feel like I am always the one who cares more. And I never really reach out to make plans with anyone I know because I feel like I’m bothering them. I think people find me annoying, honestly. I am very shy until I feel comfortable-ish at which point I babble incessantly until I notice that people are annoyed by me, at which point I shut up and get embarrassed.

I just want to have friends that like me as much as I like them, and it seems really difficult. I also don’t go out much because I don’t have any real friends, and I don’t drive so it’s hard to socialize.

I have friends on twitter that I really like, but they don’t live near me, and I still feel like they wouldn’t like me as much in real life.




Hi Anonymous,

I have some good news. The first thing is that it sounds like you aren’t having trouble making friends; it sounds like you’re having trouble being comfortable with them.

That’s an important and worthwhile distinction, anonymous. Even though they can feel similar, you should know that some people have serious anxiety talking to people, or reaching out, or even meeting people who they’d want to get along with. You, it seems, have a problem with perception. You seem conflicted in extremes. Either “very shy” or you  “babble incessantly.” Is it possible that, at 18, you’re judging yourself harshly? Or that you’re insecure? I’d guess that’s more likely than you actually being bad at friendship.

That’s not to say it’s not real. It is! What you experience is what you experience. But the good news is, based on this letter, it seems you do have friends: they’re just friends you have anxiety trusting. You don’t trust that you aren’t bothering them. You don’t trust that they aren’t annoyed.

You don’t trust that they like you as much as you like them.

I’d examine what makes it hard to trust them. Is it anxiety? Self doubt? Personal angst? And, while you’re at it, look at what makes it easier to communicate on Twitter. Once you pin down what does and doesn’t work for you, two good things will happen.

First: you’ll be able to capitalize on what works for you. This means you like what you like, and pursuing that is going to make you happier.

Second: you’ll have a more precise understanding of what’s tricky for you. Maybe you’ll say “I have a little social anxiety” or “I can talk a lot, (just like lots of cool people like Lev!)” or any other fact. You can work with that fact! You can edit, accept, process, or ignore. But don’t let it turn into a negative narrative. “I can get anxious around pigeons” is an example of a precise, personal fact that you can deal with and/or accept as you grow with it or around it. But “I can never live in a city because pigeons are there” is an example of a limiting negative narrative.

See the difference?

So, anonymous, you’re going to be fine. First, people with a central worry often let that define them and ignore their strengths. Don’t let that happen to you. Second, you’re very young, and people focus on their weaknesses as though they are permanent. They aren’t, especially at this age. If they were, I’d still be wearing oversized fitted hats over thin-framed glasses.

Before we go, some all-purpose advice that might apply here.

*You are not uniquely bad.

*Nobody is as hard on you as you are.

*Statistically speaking, there are dozens of people who think you’re cool. You’ll find them.

Hope that helps,

Lev Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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