YYA (Why Teen Characters?): A Vaempires Guest Post

Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for a defunct blog, The Magick Pen.


YYA (Why Teen Main Characters?)


Hello everyone! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Vaempires: Revolution and Vaempires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?

The series is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which humans and vampires peacefully coexist—that is, until the arrival of vaempires (mutated vampires). Driven by a thirst for cold vampire blood and a desire for world dominance, vaempires kill the world leaders and launch a revolution. In short time, the hopes of the free world rest on the shoulders of four vampire teens.

When people hear that my main characters are teens, many assume I’m trying to hitch a ride on the Harry Potter gravy train. When they realize that my characters are teen vampires… well, the inevitable Twilight-related questions arise.

Once I explain that I’m not really trying to write the next Harry Potter or Twilight series, the inevitable question is either “well then, why teenagers?” or “well then, why Young Adult?” (or YYA, as I’ve come to think of it).

There is no short answer to either question… but I always feel the need to begin with a disclaimer. The Vaempires series is not intended to be a YA series, nor is it intended to be an adult series. I try to write stories that aren’t too mature for the YA audience, yet are sophisticated enough for adults.

For instance: I would characterize Vaempires: Revolution,with its action-packed depictions of the opening salvos in the war, as more adult than YA… yet, teen readers still love it. On the other hand, Vaempires: White Christmas, with its holiday-related themes, is more YA than adult… but, my adult fans also love it.

There’s a “newer” genre that probably captures this series—New Adult. However, the bottom line is this: I don’t care what category my books fall into, as long as people read them.

Now, as far as having teen main characters… there are myriad reasons (some of which, I’m sure, I don’t even realize). First and foremost, though, I’ve always loved teen characters. Growing up, my favorite books always had teen stars. Among them were:

  • Franklin W. Dixon’s The Hardy Boys series
  • Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators series
  • Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series
  • Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series
  • Madeline L’Engle’s Kairos series
  • C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series.

Heck, even my favorite book of all time—Stephen King’s It—features teen protagonists.

Some who know me might say that I chose teen characters because I’m a perpetual teen. I wont argue it. Although my teen years are but a distant memory, I still love horror movies, rock music, and comic books. I sometimes miss the teen years, despite their inherent difficulties, with a passion.

But that’s not why I chose teen stars. You see, the reason why I did is the exact same reason why King, Alexander, Rowling, and so many others have over the years—because teenagers are magical.

You don’t have to write a story about magic, or the paranormal, or anything extraordinary to tap into this magic—although it helps—because teenagers can infuse even the most mundane, day-to-day activities with magic and wonder.

It’s about potential and promise. It’s about possessing the abilities and capabilities of an adult, coupled with the lack of inhibitions and energy of youth.

Adults lament the impossible. Teenagers envision—and if the situation demands it, challenge—the possible.

If that’s not magical, if that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.

So, my main characters are teens. My books are for adults: young adults, new adults, adult adults… I don’t care which category these adults inhabit.

As long as they read.


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