I don’t know what I write.

What I mean is – I don’t know how to pigeonhole it. Not that a book necessarily needs to be pigeonholed, except for the various and ubiquitous blurbs (“Robert Rayner is the author of three adult novels, four teen novels, and nine young adult novels …”), and so that book stores know where to put it (unless they simply shelve all books alphabetically by author; would that work?), and so that publishers know where to place it and distribute it in their catalogues and promo stuff.

So – okay – I write novels, adult, teen and young adult.

Which prompts the question: What’s the difference – apart from the ages (YA 8-13 years, teen 14+ years) often noted on the back cover – between an ‘adult’ novel and a ‘teen’ novel and a ‘young adult’ novel (not to mention a ‘new adult’ novel)?

And when do you become ‘adult’, anyway? Driving age? Drinking age? The old ‘age of maturity’, twenty-one? Should ‘adult’ novels have an age classification on the back cover (adult 18+)? Maybe there should be an upper limit (adult 18-65. Not suitable for seniors.)

Partly, I suppose, it’s the reader the author has in mind as she or he writes. (Most important thing to keep in mind as you write, I tell students is – Who are you writing for?)

Trouble is, as many adults as teens read so called ‘teen novels’ these days, and as many older teens as adults have been reading so called ‘adult novels’ for years, in school if not out of it. (My friends and I were reading, amongst other writers, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs when we were in our early teens.) (Maybe that’s what did the damage.)

To compound the confusion, ‘young adult’ and ‘teen’ are often used interchangeably, and ‘young adult’ sometimes covers a wide age range. Although my ‘Libby’ books are classified as ‘ages 6-10’, and the Brunswick Valley series as ‘ages 8-13’, they tend to turn up on the same ‘young adult’ shelf in bookstores – alongside my ‘teen’ books.

Maybe the classification rests (arbitrarily) on the age of the protagonists, so that if a story is about 8-13 year olds, it’s YA, and if about 14+ year olds, it’s teen (or new adult).

All of which reminds me that my book website (www3.nb.sympatico.ca/raynernr) starts, Stories – for adults, teens, young adults, and children.

So maybe I do, after all, know what I write. Just not sure which books fit into which pigeonhole.

And still wondering if it matters.


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