I think the reason for this preference is that I love teenagers. A lot of adults look at me kind of funny when I make statements like this (especially if they are parents of teenage children), but there it is. I think teenagers are great. I love teaching teenagers; as a group, they have consistently been my favorite age to teach (and I add preteens into this group, so think ages 11-18 or so).
Teenagers are so inspiring to me. They have most of their lives in front of them, and they genuinely believe they can accomplish great things. Many of them are passionate and smart, ambitious and driven. Sometimes they are complete wrecks, but they haven’t ossified into their wreckitude. They also haven’t developed the thicker persona that so many adults have, so they feel very, very real. They’re in the thick of trying to figure stuff out, complicated life stuff, and their emotions are flying all over the place, and who knows how it will all end up? Teenagers are exciting.
In a typical conversation with a teenager, they’ll talk about their friends and some recent friend/boy drama, or they’ll talk about school work. They’ll talk about their interests with huge amounts of enthusiasm once they’ve gotten comfortable with you. They’ll talk about their plans and/or dreams for the future, they’ll talk about the problems they’re having with their parents, they’ll talk about prom (or fill-in-the-blank Big Event). They laugh a lot and still know how to be silly. Sometimes they cry too, because they’re not all about keeping up that perfect veneer. Sometimes they’re flaky and irresponsible, but they’re still learning so at least they might not be forever flakes. They literally vibrate with possibility.
Contrast that with adults, with whom I might normally converse about the weather, or health problems, or their crappy jobs, or home improvements, or “what do you do for a living,” and really the only question remaining in my mind is, why don’t more people prefer teenagers since they are obviously so much more interesting? I’m the kind of person who is always changing and afraid of stagnation. I’m not saying I always like change, but I’m fascinated by it and ultimately see it as a positive thing. I get excited when other people are changing too. And pretty much all teenagers are changing, whether they like it or not.
Luckily I know many interesting adults too (and no, I’m not just saying that), but I find the teenage years to be of inherent interest and inherent conflict. And inherent conflict and characters in the throes of change theoretically lead to riveting story; it’s a little more complicated than that, obviously, but it’s one of my strongest reasons for liking to write YA.
What about you? Why do you like to read and/or write in your genre(s) of choice?