I first heard the phrase “Issue Fiction” at RT earlier this year. It’s the concept of writing about things like eating disorders, drug abuse, self-harm, and other gripping issues facing teenagers into YA fiction. I attended a panel on the subject where they discussed how to approach such topics, and thought to myself – our kids have to deal not only with the same issues as an average teenager, but an entire layer of being “different” on top of that. Plus, being taught to hate yourself helps to manifest other behaviors that may not have otherwise surfaced.
As a YA author, I think it’s important not to gloss over these topics, but to give teens an honest look with consequences and solvable problems. Give them hope, but show them that sometimes, they have to work for it. Mainstream books like Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson or Willow by Julia Hoban show the depth of pain involved with self-mutilation while other books like All of Me by Maureen Stewart or The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron talk eating disorders. Other books cover the spectrum of drug and alcohol abuse—all subjects that teenagers shouldn’t have to deal with, but do, every day.
In the Waiting for Forever series, Jamie battles a serious drug addiction. He makes some good choices, and some bad choices—both have consequences. Teens who read the series learn that even good people make bad choices, and they have to live with those choices. Having sex, blowing off college, getting into porn, coming out, drugs, standing up for your friends, putting your life back together—everything has repercussions, some good, some bad. In A Broken Kind of Life, Aaron is recovering from a traumatic experience that many adults wouldn’t be able to come back from. He meets Spencer, a deaf classmate and finds the strength to fight his demons and persevere.
By bringing these issues out into the open and talking about them, my hope as an author is that teens will see themselves in these books and be able to find some peace within themselves. With a teen in the Harmony Ink age range, I want them to seek out help—a parent, a teacher, or some other adult they trust and find the help they need. For our LGBT kids—I want them to know that they’re not alone. There is an entire community of us all around them, and we love and accept them just the way they are. When they’re ready, we want to watch them shine.
Jamie Mayfield is celebrating the release of the Waiting for Forever series with a 12-week blog tour and giveaway. View the full tour schedule HERE. Comment on any blog tour post or tweet using hashtag #WaitingForForever to enter to win a Kindle! Drawing will be held on 8/15/2013. You must be 18 to enter and have a valid US mailing address.
About Jamie Mayfield:
A survivor of the ex-gay residential institution The Sunshine Center, fictional author Jamie Mayfield went on to find his voice in novels. Always a great lover of books, Jamie found his passion as he began to pursue a liberal arts degree in creative writing. An avid reader, he’s a fan of gay romance, suspense, and horror—though not all in the same novel.
Jamie lives in San Diego with his fictional husband, Brian. He writes YA fiction as a way to let kids know that they have an entire LGBT family all around them. Above all, he wants them to know that they are not alone. It does get better.
Jamie Mayfield is a fictional character from the acclaimed Little Boy Lost series by female author J. P. Barnaby.