Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Linda Nagata on Writing Young Adult Science Fiction

Linda writes: Most of the fiction I write is aimed at the general market, basically meaning adult readers, but a strange thing happened over a Christmas holiday several years ago.

My daughter was a precocious reader, and in her early teens she tackled my science fiction novels, reading the first three books of The Nanotech Succession. The third book, Deception Well, includes a minor sidekick character in the form of a little “biogel” robot by the name of Ord.

Never mind the handsome young men in the story! My daughter loved Ord. She wanted more of Ord, and she wasn’t at all happy to hear that Ord didn’t even appear in the next book in the series—so I got to thinking. Deception Well is a setting made for adventure. The name of the book is the name of a wild, unsettled planet overrun by remnants of alien nanotechnology. A space elevator is anchored in an equatorial jungle, and access to the planet is strictly controlled. People live in a very high-tech city perched on the elevator column two-hundred miles above the planet’s surface. It occurred to me that it would be great fun to have a chance to play in that world again.

So on a quiet Christmas Day, with nothing much else going on, I sat down with my daughter and we talked about story. After a time I went off to plot. I was on fire—ideas were coming at me faster than I could write them down, and by evening I had a solid outline of my first young-adult novel, Skye Object 3270a—including Ord, of course!

Soon after that I started writing. Up until that point, writing had always been a struggle for me, but this book flowed. It was incredibly fun to write, I finished it with a sense of triumph, and my agent took it to market.

And then it didn’t sell.

I knew nothing about the young-adult market at the time, and I still don’t know much. Looking back, I think the potential for far-future, space-based, young-adult science fiction was very limited, and maybe it still is, but these days, there are options. I published Skye Object 3270a on my own, in both print and ebook versions, and it’s been slowly finding its audience, garnering some very positive reader reviews along the way. The book is now available in ebook form at Book View Café.

I think Skye Object fits best as a book for advanced middle-grade readers, perhaps twelve to fourteen years old, who like a rousing adventure. If you know any young people of that description, or if you like to read YA yourself, why not try a sample? Book View Café offers the first five chapters for free.

Click the links below to download the sample in your favorite format, or to visit the book’s BVC page where you can read more about it:

Sample — epub (Nook) format
Sample — mobi (Kindle) format
Book View Café’s Skye Object page

Linda Nagata is the Locus and Nebula award winning author of The Bohr Maker, Vast, and Memory, all available at Book View Cafe. Her latest book The Dread Hammer, is a darkly humorous fantasy written under the pen name Trey Shiels.

This post also appears on the Book View Cafe blog. 

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