Beyond Rebellion in YA Fantasy

Panelists: Ysabeau Wilce (M), Gail Carriger, Sarah Beth Durst, Steven Gould

Description: We all know the story of teen disaffection and rebellion, but there are plenty of Young Adult fantasies that maintain strong family ties, with rational adult role models, such as L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Steven Gould’s Impulse, and even Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games. A look at books that don’t always have the hero with an unhappy home, and discussion why this can make an intriguing story.

Beyond Rebellion in YA Fantasy panel

Ysabeau Wilce (M), Gail Carriger, Sarah Beth Durst

The precarious lifespans of YA parents and the idealism of teens…

Top Moments:

  • SBD: There are typically only 3 options for parents in YA fantasy. 1) the loving parents in danger, 2) the absentee parents (boarding school, orphans, etc.), and 3) the eeeeevil parents. And either way you slice it, parents have a pretty lousy life expectancy in YA
  • GC: The isolation of the YA protagonist speaks to an ongoing obsession with the Hero’s Journey
  • YW: It’s easy to go to the well of teenage disaffectedness
  • SBD: Our family structure and parents have a HUGE impact on how we view the world. Many YA arcs involve a quest for family / belonging / homeland, but happy families can make an exciting arc too. If you have a loving family, you’ve got a lot to lose. Think of where your character’s heart is
  • GC: YA protagonists (and readers) are often beginning to discover that parents are fallible. They may also have a fascination with other adults to get something their parents couldn’t / didn’t provide
  • YW: It can be difficult as an adult writer to let a YA protagonist make “stupid” mistakes
  • SBD: Pull away the safety nets; stories are about change
  • GC: Some stories feature family love that is actually oppressive to character growth (fear of upsetting beloved family)
  • GC: Don’t forget to make YA protagonists smart. There’s an irony of self-awareness in teens. They’re interested in philosophy and idealism, but their enthusiasm is blended with teenage idiocy. They’re smart as well as stupid
  • SBD: The family situation is univerally resonant, like fairy tales
  • SG: Parents don’t need to be physically present to be key to the story. Harry Potter’s parents are the most present unpresent parents, and a crucial / constant motivational force for the protagonist

Favourite Line: What happens to our childhood impulse to save the world?