Book Angel Booktopia is delighted to welcome Emma Haughton today (who obviously the best name – Emma 😉 ) as part of the Now You See Me blog tour.
Love, not money, makes the YA world go round. Or so it seems. Most of the YA books I read have some kind of romance at their centre – whether boy/girl or same sex, getting all loved up seems to be the focus of many teenagers’ lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with that. I get that romance and relationships are a very big deal when you’re finding your feet in the adult world – indeed, even when you’re a great deal older. I’ve been there, swooning and mooning around after the object of my affection, obsessing over every detail of my love life. And yes, feeling like I might die of a broken heart.
It’s powerful stuff, but at the same time I do believe there’s more to life than romance. And that’s true for teens too. I know plenty of teens – my daughter included – who have no interest yet in meeting a mate. Who fill their lives with school and friends and, yes, books.
And okay, if I’m truthful, there are some aspects of the whole YA romance thing that do make me squirm. I’m not dissing books like Twilight, but I do worry a bit about the idea that you’ll meet your soulmate at seventeen and cast everything aside to be with them. After all, how many of us really do hook up with the love of our life in our teens? Okay, it does happen, but to be honest you’re probably more likely to have a decent win on the lottery than you are to bump into your life partner while you’re still at school.
This was one of the reasons I decided against including a love interest in Now You See Me, my YA thriller coming out this week. I wanted to have an MC who had plenty else going on in her life, and who wasn’t actually looking for love. The other was simply that I wanted to write a story with a different kind of dynamic, one that doesn’t rely on sexual attraction to drive it forward. Love may be at the heart of most people’s lives, but it’s not solely love for the opposite sex. The love you have for your family, and even your friends can be as important, and have just as big an impact on your life.
So there’s lots of love in Now You See Me. Hannah, the main character, loves her parents, even though her mother is dead. She loves her best friend Danny, she loves his little sister, Alice, who has Down’s syndrome, and she loves his mother, who’s acted as a surrogate parent since her own mother’s death.
But as Hannah discovers, love is a double-edged sword. Love can blind us to the damage we may be doing. When Danny disappears, his mother lets her love and desperation to find him consume her. Love blinds her and others to the truth, even when it’s right under her nose. Love can mislead us, it can make us see things that aren’t there. Love makes us vulnerable – especially to people who are willing to exploit it.
So there’s a lot more to love than just boy-girl or same-sex romance. It’s a difficult, heavy, risky business, and one we spend our whole lives trying to get right.
So no romance this time around, but will I always take this line in my books? Um… maybe not so much. There’s definitely a bit of fizz in my next one – and I enjoyed writing every minute of it – but you’ll have to wait a bit for that. In the meantime, I hope you’ll agree that a good story needn’t always revolve around romance.
Emma Haughton is a one-time family and travel journalist turned YA writer. Her first YA thriller, Now You See Me, is published by Usborne on 1st May. Her second, Better Left Buried, comes out next year.