This summer, I’m hosting and participating in a Blog Swap with several of the authors of Springtime in Surrey. The full schedule may be found below this special-guest article.
Please welcome special guest Rachel Leitch, whose story The Odd Duck Society is part of the upcoming release Springtime in Surrey.
Why Young Adult Fiction Inspires Me
I’m Rachel Leitch, and I’m so honored to chat with you on Andrea’s blog! I’m the author of The Odd Duck Society in Springtime in Surrey.
I mainly write young adult historicals. If you saw my shelves, they’re an interesting mix of creative historicals and quirky, unique fantasies.
The Odd Duck Society has been a lovely change, a little something different swirled in, but it still falls within young adult fiction.
Several months ago, I read an article about why one blogger is not a fan of YA. She stated that it was repetitive, often inappropriate, and rarely to never worthwhile.
I agreed with everything she said in the article—the majority of YA fiction does have one or more of those flaws. But once I stepped away from the article, I couldn’t help but think, “But what about this book? And this author? And this . . .?”
Her observations made her conclude that YA is no longer worthwhile. My observations have made me conclude that YA is wildly worthwhile. While she sees these weaknesses of the genre as a whole, I’m immersed in that genre and can see all the authors trying to change it.
Here are three reasons why YA fiction inspires me and why I chose to write The Odd Duck Society from a young adult’s perspective.
YA is more creative than other genres.
I see originality in YA books that I don’t see anywhere else.
Who else would have thought to recreate the story of Guy Fawkes in a version of 1600’s England where everyone can control colors? (Fawkes by Nadine Brandes)
As adults (and I can say that because technically I am one), we suddenly find ourselves boxed in by certain expectations. If you don’t conform to those expectations, you become the spectacle of much scrutiny and concern. As a result, we often become worried about fulfilling those expectations and lose sight of our childhood whimsy.
YA strips all those expectations away. It’s a safe space to break the rules, to be crazy, to be weird, to bounce off the walls, to learn to fly.
YA is more open-minded than any other genre I’ve experienced. Authors and readers alike try things that seem ludicrous and risky, that seem like they would never work.
Sometimes those things flop. And sometimes those things become our next favorite read, stories we carry with us the rest of our lives.
We’ll try anything. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll pick ourselves back up and try something different.
In the words of Angela Lansbury (Mary Poppins Returns), we “choose the secret we know before life makes us grow. There’s nowhere to go but up.”
YA is willing to discuss the hard things of life.
People complain that YA is entirely inappropriate. So is anything else. You will never find a genre of book where you do not find both ends of the spectrum—wildly inappropriate books and squeaky clean books and everything in between.
People go harder on YA because of the age it’s written for, and it makes sense. YA targets the most formative years in a person’s life. The wrong books can have a terrible influence.
But the right books can have all the influence.
Which is why it’s such a big deal that YA is frank about the hardest things in life. (That’s one thing that excites me about Springtime in Surrey—it’s committed to finding hope in those hard things.)
More than any other genre I’ve seen, YA discusses topics such as abuse, depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm, divorce, sexuality, disabilities, bullying, and mental health.
As we grow up, we’re expected (or we believe we’re expected) to have it all figured out. When someone asks “how are you,” we’re supposed to be able to wholeheartedly answer “fine.”
YA doesn’t expect that. It lets you be a mess, because sometimes it’s messy, too. And it sits next to you in it. Maybe it helps you find a way out. Maybe it just points to a firefly in the corner. Maybe it just sits in the quiet for a while.
Though some people immediately leapt upon Kara Swanson’s Shadow, claiming it was too dark, that book touched me in a way not many stories ever have. I was going through something extremely hard and all the feelings that came with it. I understood a shadow tearing me apart. And that book came alongside me and helped me find the light in the darkness. I still read that book when I’m discouraged.
Has YA failed in some of its representation of this hard stuff? Absolutely. For instance, the book Thirteen Reasons Why and the resulting TV show were meant to come alongside suicidal people and instead wound up glamorizing suicidal thoughts and actions. And that’s only one example.
But at least they’re willing to talk about it. At least they let you be not okay and don’t judge you for it. At least they try.
And if more people committed to using this power for the most good that they can? Can you even imagine?
YA brings deep messages into no man’s land.
An Academy Award winning director once claimed that Marvel Cinematic Universe movies “aren’t cinema.” Other directors and actors concurred that it “diminished quality of films” and that watching one didn’t gain anything, enlighten you, or inspire you at all.
MCU actors immediately countered.
“I’ve made Marvel movies and I’ve also made movies that have been in the conversation in the world of the Oscars, and the only difference, really, is one is much more expensive than the other. But the way I break down the character, the way the director etches out the arc of the story and characters — it’s all the same, just done on a different scale.” (Tom Holland)
“I think that Marvel films are so popular because they’re really entertaining and people desire entertainment when they have their special time after work, after dealing with their hardships in real life.” (Natalie Portman)
“I would say art is subjective, and so it is artistic to make a big project superhero film for sure — it’s just a different type of art.” (Karen Gillan)
YA is the same way.
Read those quotes again, but put “Young Adult” in the blanks where it says “Marvel films.”
We’re like the MCU. We’re seen as a lesser form of storytelling because we like whimsical worlds and epic battles. We’re seen as nothing more than entertainment. It corresponds with what today’s world tends to believes about young people—that we’re shallow, that we have nothing of value to say.
But, between most Academy Award nominated films and, say, The Avengers, which one are you more likely to have seen? So, which one has been more likely to speak to you?
People look for a fun, whimsical story after a long day of being human. It gets our foot in the door, it gets us in.
Once we’re in, whimsy speaks to people like nothing else can. Whimsy just might be one of the deepest things there is—it says what we’re never allowed to speak aloud without ever saying a word.
This is why I write YA. This is why I write at all.
God is still up to His elbows in YA. He works through books whether or not they acknowledge Him, so imagine what He can do with books that do, whether explicitly or implicitly. He’s not done with YA, and He has given YA unique qualities to reach people in their most formative years.
I’m honored that He has called me to be a part of this mission.
The Odd Duck Society is the next step of that mission, and I’m so excited to come alongside other authors who have a heart for all readers of all ages.
About the Author
Rachel Leitch lives her own adventure in northern Indiana, with her parents, three sisters, two brothers, and a dog who thinks he’s the hero of her story. She writes young adult historicals with a dash of adventure or a spark of magic. When she’s not hidden away writing, she’s trying to fit all her reads on her shelf in a somewhat organized manner, obsessing over character arcs, drinking chai, daydreaming at the piano, or teaching students to be just as bookish as she is. In all her adventures, she learns how to shine brighter for the Father of Lights.
The Springtime in Surrey Tag
Have you ever participated in a bookish tag on Instagram or Twitter?
They’re pretty fun. You find books that match the categories and post pictures of them to your social media, remembering to use the hashtags for the bookish tag.
We have one for Springtime in Surrey, hosted by Katja H. Labonté, this month. The instructions and original graphic are posted on her blog, Little Blossoms for Jesus.
Feel free to snag the graphic above and get your books set up and photographed (or borrow the book covers from Goodreads like I did) and let us see what books fit the categories for you.
The hashtags to use for this bookish tag are #TheSpringtimeinSurreyTag and #WildBlueWonderPress. We would appreciate it if you also tag our hostess, @KatjaLabonte.
If you participate on Twitter, you could also tag me: @screenwriter87. That way, I’ll get to see your lovely pictures as well.
I’m participating in this bookish tag on that account. Here’s one of my entries:
Blog Swap Schedule
Please visit any or all of the following articles on the dates given or after. Feel free to share them with your friends, too.
Note: There was an issue with some of the links being broken recently. I have corrected those now, so all the links should take you to the appropriate articles. Please let me know if you come upon an issue. I am still waiting on some of the links, so please hang in there. They are coming.
Kellyn Roth on Resting Life
Erika Mathews on Prose Worthy
Andrea Renee Cox on Resting Life
Erika Mathews on Writing to Inspire
About Springtime in Surrey
This collection of novellas, set in County Surrey, England, features both historical and contemporary stories by new and old authors!
Springtime in Surrey contains the follow eight novellas:
Jesus, I Am Resting by Faith Blum
An orphaned young woman must fight to survive after WWI breaks out, praying her beau doesn’t die on a foreign battlefield like her father did years ago.
The Cottage on the Hill by Andrea Renee Cox
A former ballerina seeks hope amongst her lost dreams, as a sheep farmer tries to bring her joy.
If I Knew You Were Coming by Bailey Gaines
An exhausted mother balances her duties to both her biological and evacuee children with preparation for an unexpected visit from her soldier husband.
Her Heart’s Home by Grace A. Johnson
A destitute woman is pursued by an unexpected suitor and finds blessings from God in the way she least expected.
The Tussie-Mussie by Katja H. Labonté
A disgraced debutante flees to the country, only to meet a reclusive writer who may change her life forever.
The Odd Duck Society by Rachel Leitch
An insecure university student returns to a tea shop after a mysterious letter summons her there.
Fear Not Tomorrows by Erika Mathews
A hard-working sister-of-seven struggles with contentment as her marriage is postponed by her fiancé’s absence.
Courage to Stay by Kellyn Roth
A young bride chases her husband into the forest to rescue him from himself, which goes about as well as one would expect.
Springtime in Surrey may be found at the following links:
About the Authors
Faith Blum is a wife, mom, author, and entrepreneur. She’s published over 30 books, most of them in the Christian Historical Fiction genre. She loves stories because they can teach history, but in a fun way. It is also her way to have a creative outlet while taking care of a household and toddler.
She’s been a proud small town resident her whole life and wouldn’t have it any other way. She lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband, son, and cat, Smokey. She’s blessed to write as a part time career. You can find her books on books on most eBook retailers.
When not writing, you can find her cooking from scratch, reading, figuring out social media content, or spending time with her family. She also loves playing piano for church and being part of the Author Conservatory.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Faith-Blum/e/B00GSPBHW6
Born and raised in north Texas, Andrea Renee Cox is a born-again child of God who enjoys writing stories that inspire, copyediting fiction manuscripts, tutoring middle school students, and going on road trips with her family. Whether she’s working on historical or contemporary, women’s fiction or romance, she uses her skills in research and writing techniques—as well as a large dose of prayer and guidance from God—at every turn in the journey to produce the best story of her ability every single time. Her books may be found on her website, and readers are welcome to follow her blog for the latest updates in her journey.
Bailey Gaines is a Georgia girl who loves history. Through her writing, she hopes to show how God works in all periods of history, bringing healing and helping people know they have value because of their identity as a human created in God’s image. Her stories range from King Richard the Lionheart’s England to 1930s Appalachia to 18th century England to 19th century America.
Bailey is a student of the Author Conservatory, and has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, she’s helping homeschoolers with their writing or working at an escape room. Her hobbies include playing the piano, sewing, and exploring the world of vintage fashion.
Grace A. Johnson is a Christian fiction authoress, book reviewer, and avid reader. She lives in beautiful (but humid) South Georgia, surrounded by farmland and forestry, with her parents and six younger siblings. She has indie-published the first three novels in a Christian historical romance series, the Daughters of the Seven Seas, and a smattering of short stories and novellas, as well as a devotional. She’s also a marketer and editor who loves helping young authors through her editing business S&J Editors and her small publishing company Sky’s the Limit Press. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook @graceajohnsonauthor or blogging on her website at www.graceajohnson.com. Join her for a virtual cup of tea and a free preview of her debut novel when you sign up for her e-newsletter!
Katja H. Labonté is a Christian, an extreme bibliophile who devours over 365 books in a year, and an exuberant writer with a talent for starting short stories that explode into book series. She is a bilingual French-Canadian and has about a dozen topics she’s excessively passionate about (hint: that’s why she writes). Katja writes both contemporary and historical fiction, as well as non-magical historical and contemporary kingdom fiction, and covers themes of worth, love, peace, and Christian growth. She spends her days enjoying little things, growing in faith, learning life, and loving people. You can follow her life journey, find free books, browse her services, and more on her website and blog.
Rachel Leitch discovered the book of writing when she was seven. She’s been turning pages ever since! She lives her own adventure in northern Indiana, with her parents, three sisters, two brothers, and a dog who thinks he’s the hero of her story. She writes young adult historical fiction with a dash of adventure or a spark of magic. When she’s not hidden away writing, she’s trying to fit all her reads on her shelf in a somewhat organized manner, obsessing over character arcs, drinking chai, daydreaming at the piano, or teaching students to be just as bookish as she is. In all her adventures, she learns how to shine brighter for the Father of Lights. For more bookish ramblings (and a free digital short story involving a magical violin) follow her adventure journal at https://racheljleitch.com/!
Erika Mathews is an author and editor who writes family-friendly Christian living books, both fiction and non-fiction, that demonstrate the power of God through ordinary people, transforming daily life into His resting life. Her works include Truth from Taerna, a kingdom adventure fiction series with deep spiritual themes, Resting Life, a Christian living nonfiction book about finding rest in Jesus in modern life, and a variety of historical fiction and poetry.
Erika lives in the farm country of Minnesota with her husband and children. She’s a homeschool graduate with a Bachelor’s in Communications, a Master’s in Biblical Ministries, and a passion for sharing Jesus Christ and His truth. When she’s not working with books, she enjoys reading, outdoor activities, piano and violin, organizing, and using the Oxford comma.
Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.
Kellyn is a student of the Author Conservatory and a writing coach. When not building her author career or her indie-author-helping business, Wild Blue Wonder Press, she is likely getting lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with her friends, watching period dramas and facetious comedies, or spending time with her husband.
Books to Read
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