Today on the school run my kids were talking, the topic they were discussing was posed my daughter when she asked this question…
“Do you think our grandchildren will ask about 2020, like we asked our great-grandad and great-nanny about the war?”
The discussion went on with my son countering with…
“But if they don’t find a vaccine and life doesn’t return to normal, then they’ll probably ask; what was life like before 2020?”
For me the forgotten silent chauffeur this was fascinating, so I just listened.
For context, my daughter has just started her A-Levels and is studying English Literature, and her current subject is dystopian novels, and she added this nugget of wisdom…
“If someone from the past was to get a glimpse into the future and looked at 2020 – seeing our technology, our weapons, our surveillance and what we’ve already experienced this year; the threat of nuclear war, the world burning, and a global pandemic. They’d think it was a dystopian world. We are literally living our ancestor’s visions of dystopia. We are living through a dystopian novel.
So what will dystopia look like in the future?”
Here I think I should put a shout out to my daughters English literature teacher, who is working very hard to support all her students mental health as they study the now ‘scarily similar to reality’ dystopia novels.
It’s an interesting question, and one my children discussed at length. But it’s encapsulates the question that been on my mind…
“What is the future of fiction?”
I’m contemplating this question a lot, especially with regard to Teen and YA novels, as this is what I write. What is the new dystopia? What is indeed is the new fiction? When life is so dark, mirroring dystopian fiction, what do you write for teens and YA? How dark can you go that’s still age appropriate but still seems fantastical and well…fictional?
Or do we go the other way completely and go fluffy and feel-good? That may work for some readers but others do have a darker palate. I have heard on talks and read on blog articles that many agents are not wanting to take pandemic novels which means I have three novels that have pandemic elements (all written before 2020 that aren’t dystopian but have a plague or pandemic element) that are benched for the moment. One of which is a funny fluffy MG fairy tale- superhero mashup, but all the same the pandemic element means it’s gone into a draw.
So what is the future of fiction for teens and Young Adults? I don’t know what the answer. But what I do know is I’ll keep writing what I love, and keep submitting and hope that I get it right.