The genre ‘YA’ didn’t exist when I was a kid. You went pretty much straight from ‘kids books’ to ‘adult books’ and being a pretty precocious reader, I was starting to make this transition pretty early on.
There were ‘YA’ books available, I’m sure, but they weren’t marketed as such. I’m not really sure what changed that. Certainly the ongoing Harry Potter series contributed – as the Harry Potter Generation grew up, so did the market for books that they would want to read. Twilight played a big part in bringing more attention to the genre. There were likely others, but as is often the way when you look back on something – it can be difficult to tell exactly what started it. To me it was like I hit eighteen and suddenly YA was a thing. A thing I liked very much and wished had been around when I was about eleven.
I guess it’s partly why I still read a lot of YA now. One, they are often really good fun, generally faster reads than adult books, and less… this is going to sound awful, but less hard work. I’m reading Gone Girl at the moment, and I’m really enjoying it, but it takes concentration. YA books can deal with difficult themes and complex issues, but I’ve always found them easier going. Something about the tone and style, and the fact that the characters haven’t had a chance to become old and embittered, maybe.
The first writing I did was YA. The first authors I loved wrote YA. The first characters I fell in love with were from YA novels. It’s been a massive influence on my writing and reading.
I can’t imagine ever growing out of it. All those adults who sniff at adults reading YA… they just don’t know what they’re missing.