All Because of Chickens

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ask the Author

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, readers of all ages, it is time for ASK THE AUTHOR!!!!!!!

This week we have two questions being posed for our Muse Tween and Teen authors. As always, we want this to be a conversation and invite authors to answer the questions in the comments and readers to join in by remarking on a particular comment or asking another question of your own.

Our first question is posed by Jerry Race. Jerry would like to know:

What is the oldest age for a young adult character?

Great question, Jerry! This is a topic discussed again and again by people in the industry, so we should get some varying ideas. Thanks for asking!

Our second question is from Suzanne de Montigny. Suzanne wants to know:

How do you come up with funny stories (like Vin and the Dorky Duet by Maggie Lyons?)

Funny is very difficult to write, great question, Suzanne! Thanks for asking.

Okay, Muse authors, now it is your turn. Let's hear it!


  1. Jerry, I'd say the oldest age for a young adult character is 18, or school-wise I'd say the summer before college is about the cut off. There's definitely exceptions to that, especially if following a character through a series who may end up older than 18 by the time the series ends.

    The good news is there's a fairly new genre called New Adult that seems to be taking off. The age range for that seems to be late teens (18-19) through early 20's. This covers more of the college years to perhaps a little after college.

  2. Hi Jerry! I think a ya character should be younger than 20 ideally. That said, the situation in the story line can also dictate that the story appeals to the ya market, even if the main character is older.

    Suzanne, I'm going to let the more humorous authors answer your question ;)

    Thanks for asking!

  3. To Jerry - If your character is older than 18, and/or out of high school, people might think "Oh, this isn't YA." Then again, I haven't done a survey...But most YA books I've read have characters 18 and under.

    To Suzanne - When I'm writing humor, I just try to be myself and write things that make /me/ laugh. If others laugh, that's great, but if you try too hard, I think people can tell. But you asked how to come up with funny stories. Hmm. I'll let the real comedians answer this one :-)

  4. Suzanne, I've been thinking about your question and trying to come up with a good answer. Here's my best shot: I think funny stories come from inside of the author...not exactly a how-to guide, huh!

  5. I say it's 18 years old. Now if they're 19 or a little older? That's more New Adult. And even the whole New Adult genre is still being debating.

    So far none of my stories have been funny per say though I've been told the dialogue in more than a few of my books is 'funny'. I listen to my character's voice and write it.

  6. I find the humor sneaks in when I'm not looking. Needs fine tuning, but I never set out to write a humorous book, occasionally it pops up in an existing story.

  7. As for writing humor: I think it helps if the author has a dry sense of humor as I do. I have glimpsed my humor coming out in my current character. Didn't really plan the humor, and as Sue Perkins says, I will have to fine tune it.

  8. Jerry-- I'd say the traditional upper limit for YA is around 18, but I think it can go as high as 19. My YA novel has characters ranging from 16 to 19, though the main character is 17.

    Suzanne-- I tend to be funny when I'm not trying. I so want to be the next Rick Riordan and write someone hysterical like Percy Jackson, but I'm not sure I have the right personality. ;) I'm one of those people who will think of an awesome comeback three weeks after the event. ;)

  9. 2000 years old in YA. Yes, I'm serious. The question should be the age of a YA book's main character, the person the reader identifies with. Many of my characters are adults. One of my favorites is an ageless crone named Mordita.

    As for humor, I have no other way to write. Even in some of my gruesome adult stories, I have to throw in at least one pun. Nobody notices, but many of my chapter titles are either puns or pop culture references.

  10. Jerry: Usually the main characters in YA are 18, or as Katie said, right before college.

    Suzanne: I think the best way to write humor is to listen to your characters and let them show you where they want to be funny. Like most things in writing, it doesn't work if you force it, it needs to happen on it's own.

  11. Jerry: I agree with everyone so far. When I started writing I heard to make your main character 2-3 years older than your target audience. I violated that with my book, but with good reason. I intend to write followup stories, and I want to have room for my characters to grow.

    Suzanne: I'd have trouble writing a whole story with the intent of being funny. For me, humor needs to be spontaneous, otherwise it sounds forced. But it's always fun when I write and a joke pops into my head, and I can incorporate it into the story.

  12. Suzanne, my father was great at deadpan humor -- he'd recount the most outrageous stories with an absolutely straight face. His favorite writer was Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock. Here's the start of Dad's favorite story, "Gertrude the Governess"
    Synopsis of Previous Chapters:
    There are no Previous Chapters.
    It was a wild and stormy night on the West Coast of Scotland. This, however, is immaterial to the present story, as the scene is not laid in the West of Scotland. For the matter of that the weather was just as bad on the East Coast of Ireland.

    But the scene of this narrative is laid in the South of England and takes place in and around Knotacentinum Towers (pronounced as if written Nosham Taws), the seat of Lord Knotacent (pronounced as if written Nosh).

  13. Deadpan every time. Thanks, Margaret. I remember being teased relentlessly, and loving it.

  14. Yes, I agree. A good thing to remember is your readership is usually two years younger than the age of your protagonist. I'm interested in more New Adult though as this is supposed to range from 19-the early 20s and is college aged.

  15. Jerry, I believe the main character should be no older than 18 but there's no reason why other characters in fantasy couldn't be 2000yrs old, as Marva said.

    Suzanne, I like the subtle humour in books, The type generated by a character's embarrassment, especially when it's the villain or a proud person is brought down.

  16. I think everyone has answered the first question quite well, so I'll tackle the second.

    I don't think I'm a funny person, but the idea for my funny MG, JULIUS CAESAR BROWN AND GREEN GAS MYSTERY, came from a breath mint commercial. Much of the funny stuff in the book came from things over the years that struck me funny. I drew from that well. The book comes out on the 12th of this month. I hope all my readers will crack up, too. ^_^


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