In the three years since Archivist Wasp was published, there’s one thing about it that keeps coming up in reviews and reader comments/questions again and again. Which is fine by me, since I haven’t gotten tired of talking about it yet! …
And so, without further ado! The full, entire, possibly long story of why I write all my close relationships as friendships instead of romances, the pros and cons of same, and how I wish more books/movies/shows/etc would do so
Three years, really? It honestly does not seem like nearly that long.
Because here’s the thing about preteen- and teenage-me. I didn’t give a shit about romance. I still don’t. It’s just not who I am. And being completely surrounded by it on all media fronts, growing up, I started to get this little voice in the back of my head, like, is something wrong with me that I just don’t see the point of this thing that’s allegedly all-important? … all the thousands of books and movies I consumed didn’t provide me any frame of reference for when one person is super into another person but has zero interest in getting into their pants. I pretty much literally never saw that represented. I needed examples of strong platonic friendships that could have turned into romantic/sexual relationships and didn’t. And they were — and are — really, really hard to find.
So she wrote the stories she wanted to read, as one does, and they got rejected:
A few [rejections] that were more specific basically said, Look, this is YA, you need romance. Love triangles are especially popular, but romance is key to sell YA.
I am pretty lucky that my editor at PRH didn’t object to the complete lack of romance in The White Road of the Moon.
A thought that drifted through my mind here was: I just wonder what would have happened if she’d sent the manuscript for Archivist Wasp out under a male pen name? Maybe her experience would have been exactly the same . . . but I just kind of wonder. I also wonder, how about sending it out as adult rather than YA? To me, this story could have worked just as well either way. However, Kornher-Stace really wanted it to go out as YA so that kids would be more likely to find it.
Side note: pushing teens toward YA as though it is especially impossible and also undesirable for teens to identify with adult characters is a modern idea that should die in fire. I am quite grateful I was a teenager before YA was a thing.
As a second side note, my agent said she thinks perhaps the adult SFF market has drifted off toward the YA type of story, very fast paced and very emotion-driven and angsty. If so . . . I would love to see that trend brought to a crashing halt. We’ll see.
Anyway, through a fortuitous series of events, Kornher-Stace found the people at Small Beer Press and they loved Archivist Wasp, as they should, and the book took off in a pretty decent way, as it deserved to, so now we have the sequel, Latchkey.
I haven’t read it … I am not reading anything at all right now, because I am very involved in writing … but the first reviews at Goodreads look very positive. I am very much looking forward to re-reading Archivist Wasp and then diving into Latchkey.