I've written four YA urban fantasy manuscripts, three of them in the last two years. I'm currently in the beginning stages of plotting a new novel and I find myself facing a choice: YA or not YA.
With each successive YA novel I've written, I've found myself pushing the boundaries of acceptable YA content more and more. The themes, romance, language, and darker/violent content keep trying to shift toward an older audience. I've been wondering, especially with my last novel, if I've been holding back to suit my intended audience. If I stopped aiming for YA, would I find more freedom in storytelling?
On the other hand... I don't know how to write adult. Saying that sounds stupid; after all, I read lots of non-YA books. But the one time I tried an adult novel, I got about 65,000 words in and gave up because I just didn't like it. It lost that... sparkle. There's something about YA that I love, the fresh innocence, the fun spunky life. I can't quite put my finger on what my adult novel attempt was missing, but the story just came out flat and lifeless.
I'm afraid that if I write another non-YA book, I'm either going to end up with a "tried too hard to be grown up" flop like the abovementioned incomplete, or I'm going to end up with a YA novel that's too mature for teens. I won't know unless I try, but stepping out of my comfort zone is frightening. I don't want to waste time, effort, and inspiration on another flop. Should I stick with the genre I know I'm good at? Or venture into unknown waters where I've already failed once?
I'm mostly just venting insecurities here, but if you have any thougths or advice, please share!