Mundie Moms

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Guest Post with Nightspell author Leah Cypess

Today we have the privilege of having Nightspell author, Leah Cypess on our blog to talk about the differences between writing YA & Adult books.

There are many opinions out there about the differences between adult and YA books, but in my opinion, the differences are growing blurrier – to the point where I’m not entirely sure it still makes sense to try to define them.

When I wrote Mistwood and Nightspell, I thought I was writing for adults. In my mind, high fantasy (fantasy that takes place in a completely made-up world) is an adult genre – probably because all the books I read in that genre growing up were adult books. Of course, the fact that I was reading them starting from age 10 could have hinted that this wasn’t entirely correct. I suspect those books always had a large teen readership.

The main problem with Mistwood, when I finished it, was that it was too short – 70,000 words, while I was told that the minimum word count for an adult fantasy was 100,000 words. But around that time, I read Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, a complicated fantasy with significant adult POV characters that was published as YA. That was when I realized that Mistwood could actually be YA, and once I started submitting it as a young adult novel, I got an offer within a few months.

When I made the decision to call it YA, I submitted Mistwood as is – I didn’t make any changes aside from putting the words “young adult” in my query letter. Once the manuscript was accepted, we did make a few changes… mostly aging the characters down by a year or two, but also cutting down on the worldbuilding a little bit. Basically, though, the manuscript remained exactly the same. I honestly think there’s not much difference between YA and adult these days, except for the requirement of the main character’s age.


  1. I completely agree with Leah, the lines are blurring between the two. And I think that's a good thing! Especially if the thing helping to blur the lines is her fabulous writing!

  2. Critique Sisters- I totally agree. I think it's great that the line is being blurbed by fabulous writers.

  3. I think this is totally true in general and very specifically in the fantasy genre. As Leah said, I think that fantasy readers have always started young and have moved straight into adult books because that's where the high fantasy books have always traditionally been (this was my experience specifically, too!). Now, though publishers are beginning to realize this, and many more high fantasy books are being published at which I say, "YES!!" Now fantasy readers can also read YA instead of having to skip straight ahead to adult books. :)