“The Star Wars Effect: Bringing Teens to Space”
When I wrote the first draft of Beyond the Red back in the summer of 2014, I didn’t dare to imagine that non-dystopian Sci-Fi would become a Big Thing in YA. I hoped, of course, alongside every other YA Sci-Fi writer, but the truth was it hadn’t happened, not really. And with Dystopian novels taking the spotlight front and center, many were already predicting a downturn in YA Sci-Fi once readers got tired of dystopic Sci-Fi worlds.
I knew all that, but I wrote Beyond the Red anyway. It was the book I wanted to read, but wasn’t already out there—it was aliens, and monarchies, and clashing cultures, and endless crimson sands in a faraway world outside our solar system, but within our universe. It was a place where Earth was a legend, even to the humans whose ancestors emigrated from there. It was, ultimately, the book I wanted for myself, so I ignored the trends altogether and when people whispered that YA Sci-Fi was a hard sell, I shrugged and kept writing.
Everything is a hard sell, I reasoned. I’m going to write this book for me.
So I did. And eventually I got an agent, and my agent said those words to me—YA Sci-Fi is a hard sell—but she also said, I love this book and I’m going to do my best.
We went on submission. Heard the book was “too Sci-Fi” in rejections. Kept submitting anyway. And celebrated when it sold.
Even months after it sold, my YA Sci-Fi writer friends told me their stories—how their books weren’t selling, how YA Sci-Fi was so hard to move. Of the new sale announcements, YA Sci-Fi were in the minority—a couple here, a handful there in a sea of incredible-sounding Fantasy stories. Pirates and time-travel were in. Sci-fi was…there. Floating. Barely.
And then Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced. And then Divergent mega-author Veronica Roth announced her next book: a Star Wars-ish Sci-Fi YA due in 2017. And then super Sci-Fi-ish Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Asher became a big YA buzz book. And then Star Wars: The Force Awakened sold a bajillion tickets and basically blew everyone’s expectations out of the water.
YA Sci-Fi isn’t a Big Thing—not yet—but with the massive success of Star Wars, and a super huge author writing a Star Wars-like YA, it’s not hard to imagine that we’ll see more teens in space over the next couple years. Readers who watch Star Wars are walking away and craving that same kind of adventure in a book. They want aliens, and extrasolar planets, and advanced technology, and complicated, alien politics. They want characters who have grown up in a technological world far away from our own—they want space travel, and vivid settings that remind them of that movie theater experience.
YA Sci-Fi authors like myself, who never could have predicted the existence of another movie in a galaxy far, far away, had no idea that we were actually writing our spacey books at exactly the right time. We had no idea that teens in space would be exactly what readers would be looking for after getting their movie fix. But despite the uncertainty, the books we wrote for us—the books we were told would be too hard to sell—have now become exactly the stories that Star Wars-loving readers are asking for.
Sometimes when the book idea of your dreams comes knocking at what seems like the wrong time, the timing is more right than you ever could have known.
Beyond the Red
Author: Ava Jae
Published March 1st, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Goodreads Summary: Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.
Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.
When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.
About the Author: Ava Jae is an author, blogger, YouTuber, college student, and assistant editor at Entangled Publishing. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a BA in English in April 2016, Ava will probably find a bookstore to live in, where she can write her next novel surrounded by the smell of new books and coffee. She can be found on Twitter at @Ava_Jae or at her website avajae.blogspot.com. She resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Thank you to Ava for her fun guest post!
**Thank you to Cheryl at Skyhorse Publishing for setting up this post!**