Arriving home from the library, I came to this realization: of the twelve books I’d picked out, ten of them were written around themes of Otherness. Not surprisingly, nine of those ten were young adult books. I don’t typically read that much YA, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my new writing project is likely to develop into a YA story. To prevent its being written in a vacuum of glorious ignorance, I went browsing for some recent YA books.
The heros and heroines…they’re all Outsiders. Either they’re losers, or oddballs, or they’re aliens, or supernatural creatures. However they’ve arrived there, all these YA protagonists are standing on the outside looking in.
The question that has been nagging me since I made that realization is: who writes for the Insiders? You know, the normal kids, the regular kids, the popular kids. The kids who don’t sit alone at lunch. The kids who always have a date to homecoming. The kids who do well at sports and listen to Top 40 music. Who writes books for them? And what are those books? Seriously, I want suggestions. I have a burning curiosity to read these books and learn something about their authors.
I don’t want to make sweeping generalities about writers, but I have to admit that almost every writer I know is…a little odd. Or off. Or downright strange. Many of us are introverts, which has turned us into observers. Others of us see the world from such a skewed angle that we’re always writing in an attempt to document the discrepancies between our world and the world.
The problem is that because I was always an Outsider, perhaps I simply never noticed the books on the library shelves that were intended for the Insiders. They were invisible to me.
Trying to think of possible examples of Insider novels, all I can think of is television. Star Trek in particular, which despite its massive geek following is all about Insidership. Think of it–the Federation is this massive, wonderful, just, lawful, all-inclusive entity. The pinnacle of happiness on The Enterprise is to belong. So many story lines are devoted to that idea that I can’t cite them all. Consider that in the original series, most of the episodes were about triumphing over some evil alien, or triumphing over a crew member who had “gone wrong,” and at the heart of the episodes was this familial bond that everyone had to embrace. Or look at The Next Generation: Data trying to become human to belong. Repeated on Voyager, with Seven of Nine. The goal of the stories always seems to be to bring everyone together, to make everyone part of this big, inclusive club. Yet they hated the Borg…
So tell me, in the YA field, who writes for the Insiders?
PS: And I have to add…what the hell gives with the Holodeck? If my microwave malfunctioned, took over my house, and endangered my life, I would unplug it an throw it away. And I was never as big a fan of Star Trek as I was of the brief-lived Firefly, something of a mirror image of Star Trek, where the Federation is an evil fascist entity and the scrappy but criminal crew of Serenity are the heroes. An Outsider tale at its finest.