SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

How popular is YA set in the 60s?

Discussion started on

bj

Guest
Hi Blueboarders:

I'm thinking of writing a YA based on a true story of homelessness that occurred in the late 60s/early 70s. I can't seem to find too much info - or perhaps don't yet know where to look - about YAs in different time periods; i.e. most of what I read on the boards is about contemporary YA. And the 60s/70s wouldn't be considered historical. Any comments helpful or any direction anyone can point me in would be great. Thanks! :smile

-bj
#1 - August 27, 2010, 09:17 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region houston
Ummm, sorry to break it to you, B.J., but yes the 60's and 70's are considered historical.  :)
Think about it ... kids in 1970 thought the 1930's were historical ... so in 2010 ... 1970 would be historical .. same 40 year gap ... and I believe most publishers treat stories from that era as historical.



#2 - August 28, 2010, 07:31 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region rmc
A couple of years ago I wrote a novel set in '73 and, yes, it was considered historical. I was lucky enough to land an agent with the book, however, she admitted it was going to be a hard sell. It came close to selling, but ultimately we collected about ten rejections before deciding to focus on my next book which was contemporary.

If it's possible to bring your novel to the present, that's better for you. But every once in a while I see a book deal for a 60's or 70's novel, so I wouldn't say it's hopeless. I'd still like to someday try to find a home for my '73 novel.

Good luck!
#3 - August 28, 2010, 08:26 AM
THE SECRET OF FERRELL SAVAGE
Atheneum (Simon & Schuster) February, 2014

bj

Guest
Lill - LOL. That's amazing to me - the 60s considered historical. Guess I'm showing MY age.

Jennifer - Thanks for the info. Sorry about your 70s YA. Gee, it seems strange to me that kids wouldn't be interested in this era. Or is it publishers who think kids aren't interested in this era? I read a book called Spud which was set in the 90s which was hugely popular. Hmmm, I'll look into it some more. Because my subject matter is based on a real situation that happened in the 60s/70s, I don' really want to bring it into the present but I will think about it.

Thank you both.

bj
#4 - August 28, 2010, 09:31 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region wwa
Isn't, What I saw and How I Lied, set in the sixties?   Maybe it's fifties.  But it won a National Book award.
#5 - August 28, 2010, 12:16 PM

bj

Guest
thanks Hairaplenty - I'll eagerly check it out.
#6 - August 28, 2010, 01:32 PM

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
This year's Newbery, When You Reach Me, is set in the late 70s. Criss-Cross, a past Newbery winner, is also set someplace in this time frame -- 60s or early 70s. Even the 80s are historical to today's kids.

So it can be done. Historical is in a cycle where it's a very tough sell. But good historicals will still sell anytime, and by the time you could get a book written, revised, sold, and published, who knows -- the genre could come roaring back.

I think you need a reason to keep the story in the past that's more crucial than "I want to." One rule of thumb says that if the story can be brought into the present and still basically be the same story, you should make it contemporary. Why MUST it be in the 60s/70s? What would be lost if it were not? These are questions to ask. It may be very possible to base a story on your true events without necessarily replicating the era.
#7 - August 28, 2010, 01:47 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

Escaping The Tiger is historical. It covers 1982-1986. So for today's 12 year-olds, they're reading about something that happened nearly three decades ago. Boing! That was the sound of a gray hair popping out!
#8 - August 28, 2010, 04:44 PM
ESCAPING THE TIGER, Bank Street's "Best Books of the Year"
http://lauramanivong.wordpress.com

ecb

Guest
WHAT I SAW & HOW I LIED is 1947. But that's close to the '60s, I guess. ;)
#9 - August 29, 2010, 09:07 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
I think anything pre-computers and cell phones feels historical to kids today. I know the 60's is considered historical. I am currently writing a YA mystery set in the mid 60's. I didn't know that time frame is considered a hard sell. I don't know why it should be if the story is strong enough. I'm going to plow ahead anyway.

Laurel  :bangbreak
#10 - August 29, 2010, 10:28 AM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region arizona
My guess is that often writers are too close to these 'historicals' to pull off fiction. It's like over-researching. You want to put in every cool detail you remember, but are only allowed those essential to the story. Someone 25 writing about the 60's is going to see it differently than someone who saw it.
#11 - August 29, 2010, 03:15 PM
www.Facebook.com/MythRiderBook
- 4RV Publishing, April 2015
NO MORE MR. DAWDLE (Caramel Tree, April 2015)
UNGLUED (Caramel Tree, June 2015)

Just curious-- why don't you gear the story towards adults?
#12 - August 29, 2010, 03:38 PM
S.J. Kincaid, INSIGNIA
(July 10, 2012, Katherine Tegen Books)
http://www.sjkincaid.com

Mike Jung

Guest
This is MG instead of YA (like WHEN YOU REACH ME), but Nan Marino's NEIL ARMSTRONG IS MY UNCLE AND OTHER LIES MUSCLE MAN MCGINTY TOLD ME is set in 1969, and was a Golden Kite honor book. Reallyreallyreally good book.
#13 - August 29, 2010, 04:55 PM

bj

Guest
This is an interesting discussion and I thank you all for your comments. I wanted to set it in the 60s because that's when it happened (it would be fiction based on a true story) but I'm thinking more and more of the challenge of making it contemporary. The thing is I don't know the contemporary YA lingo - but perhaps one doesn't really need that, after all it would get dated very quickly. I definitely have to do some more research and reading.This is my first foray into YA - I'm basically a poet and a novelist (adult). Have been trying my hand at pbs, but they are just not my thing and/or I need to take a break from them. I don't understand why historical would be a "hard sell," but I do understand cycles and can accept the fact that historical may be in a down cycle right now. Thank you all for your insightful comments.
#14 - August 29, 2010, 06:57 PM

hart

Guest
One that came out last January for was "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Garcia-Williams. It's set in 1968. Great characters, three sisters are sent to a Black Panther summer Camp in Oakland. Might be more of a middle grade read though the author writes YA. Amazon says grades 4-7--hart
#15 - August 30, 2010, 12:48 PM

Bj, I just sold an MG set in 1959. Why don't you try writing your book and see what happens?  :smile
#16 - August 31, 2010, 07:02 AM
Stephanie J. Blake
MY ROTTEN FRIEND (Albert Whitman, September 1, 2015)
THE MARBLE QUEEN (Two Lions, December 1, 2012)

Jeff Faville

Guest
I agree with Stephanie. Write the story you want to tell in the voice and setting that speaks to you.
#17 - August 31, 2010, 05:36 PM

Member
Poster Plus
Speaking of historical, isn't Nirvana considered classic rock now?
#18 - August 31, 2010, 07:37 PM

bj

Guest
thank you all for your further comments. I appreciate the additional books mentioned and will check them out.  At this point, I'm warming to the challenge of recasting this story in a contemporary setting, if I can do it. I have to think a lot about it and see if it would work but, if it would have a better chance at being picked up...I don't know, as I research it, I may change my mind. Thanks again to all who have commented. It's a great discussion!  :fishbowl
#19 - August 31, 2010, 11:34 PM

I tried to do that with my current WIP, but found it very difficult - not impossible, just very difficult. I think one of the reasons I wanted to write my novel set in the mid-1960 was because 1) I grew up in that era; 2) I wanted my old classmates to read it and identify with how things were back then; and 3) I wanted today's youth to see what it was really like back then, at least from my POV.

Like everyone's said, you need to write the book you want, in the voice and setting you want. To me, when I started revising it to modern day, it just didn't ring true any more.
#20 - September 01, 2010, 02:14 PM
Come join my novel writing journey where I often offer writing tips at www.paulwwest.com, and find my novel Bridgetown High set in Crockett, Californi

Books for Kids and Teens
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region oregon
I'm reading The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard.  While it's an adult novel, I think YAs would read it (and JM has written YA books too).  It starts out in the 50s, I'm about halfway through and it is now in the 70s.  Also, there are two main characters and each narrates alternating chapters, another concern that has popped up on the board.  In this book it certainly works.
#21 - September 01, 2010, 02:27 PM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Richard Peck's....A Season of Gifts.....was set in 1958, I believe.....Anyway, it's one of the best I've read lately.  So, go for it. You never know.  It could bring in lots of  :dollar    s!!
#22 - September 04, 2010, 07:08 AM

Member In Memoriam
Poster Plus
The thing is I don't know the contemporary YA lingo - but perhaps one doesn't really need that, after all it would get dated very quickly. I definitely have to do some more research and reading.

I completely agree - you should probably read as much contemporary YA as you can get your hands on. It sounds to me like this book doesn't need to be set in the 70s except for the fact that it's the era you grew up in, and IMHO, that's the wrong reason. If you need the feel of the era (WHAT I SAW-great book) or something that happened then and only then (ESCAPING THE TIGER-also a great read) then I think it's justified. I think editors see a lot of YA set in the 70s and 80s now (after all that's when us 40-somethings came of age) and it's a red flag for them. 
#23 - September 08, 2010, 01:02 PM
Transcendence (Walker) - June 2012
Sequel (Walker) - June 2013
Dirty Little Secrets (Walker) - Feb 2010
6:00 in SF - 2009
www.cjomololu.com

classicfiction

Guest
Middle Graders and YR have the background of hearing their grandparents reminiscing about the sixties. I didn't know my grandparents but I used to love my mother talking about her childhood and how different things were then. I guess publishers are missing a trick if they are ignoring the allure of 60s and 70s settings.
#24 - March 22, 2012, 08:34 AM

Woods

Guest
Bj, I just sold an MG set in 1959. Why don't you try writing your book and see what happens?  :smile

I agree with Stephanie. Write the story in the time setting you feel most comfortable with.

Books set in the '60s:

Adult:

THE HELP

Young Adult:

GO ASK ALICE



#25 - March 23, 2012, 03:16 AM

Not sure if these were mentioned, but Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars and Okay For Now are recent MG books set in the 60s.
#26 - March 23, 2012, 06:10 AM

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
Just wanted to note that this is quite an old thread and the OP has probably moved on in her work... :azn:
#27 - March 23, 2012, 06:17 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
  • SCBWI PAL
If you are afraid to set it in contemporary times because you don?t know today?s teen-speak and don?t have a teen to learn it from, may I suggest you take in one or two northern European exchange students (Youth for Understanding is a good outfit). The European kids arrive with pretty to really good English and will give you teen speak pretty quickly ? either they or the friends they bring home will help you out. We?ve been hosting YFU students for five years, and have about 10 European kid friends now, but also a lot of local young friends who check in on us now and then.
#28 - April 16, 2014, 01:48 PM

Books for Kids and Teens
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region oregon
If Laura Ingalls Wilder hadn't written fictionalized accounts of her growing-up years we wouldn't have the Little House books.
 
#29 - April 16, 2014, 05:11 PM

Holy thread revival...but just to stay in the spirit, I'm currently reading A Corner of the Universe by Ann Martin, a 2004 Newbery Honor Book, which is set in the summer of 1960.
#30 - April 17, 2014, 09:46 AM
In Real Life, Tuttle Publishing, Fall 2014

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.