Gateway Books

Anytime I get discouraged with my writing, or feel particularly unmotivated or like a total hack, I look back at the gateway books that sucked me into the world of young adult literature several years ago. Usually, they’re enough to reignite my passion for writing and my love of stories for teens. 

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight was the 1st book that made me think… I can do this. 

Gayle Forman’s If I Stay was the 1st book that made me think… I want to do this. 

What’s the first book that got you interested in YA?
Which book made you want to write?


20 responses to “Gateway Books

  1. Twilight was the book that introduced me to YA. When I was in the shop buying New Moon I also picked up The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and that was the book that made me want to write YA.
    Good old Twilight I wonder how many people got hooked on YA because of it.

    • Sarah Dessen was one of my earliest YA reads too, Alexa. JUST LISTEN was the first novel I read by her, and I loved it. And yes… I think TWILIGHT was a gateway book for many of us, love it or hate it. 🙂

  2. I think Twilight played a huge part in introducing many authors to the possibility of writing, which is why I refuse to hate on it. I’ve wanted to write forever, so I can’t think of one specific book that got me thinking about it. But I was inspired a lot by Sarah Dessen and Juliet Marillier in HS.

    • I don’t hate on TWILIGHT either, Prerna. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a story that hooked zillions of people on YA and reading in general, for whatever reason. How can you knock that?

  3. I’m not positive, but I think TWILIGHT was the book that really got me into YA. (It’s crazy how many of us can actually say that!) I’d probably read and enjoyed other YA before, but that was the one that really sucked me in. The book that got me thinking I really should give writing a try was DIVERGENT. I think it was Veronica Roth’s writing style that made it seem so much more doable to me.

    • I appreciate VR’s writing style too. It’s an enviable blend of simplicity and emotionality, I think. It’s a big part of what’s kept me so enthusiastic about her trilogy.

  4. The Hunger Games was definitely the series that got me hooked back on YA. I’ve been a dystopian fan since I read 1984 in high school and learned the word “dystopian” in 2005. The Hunger Games came out in my third year of teaching (my first year of library school) it just ignited a reading frenzy for me.
    I’m not a YA author, but I write academically about YA. I think David Levithan’s Every Day was the first novel that really made me want to write about the innovative things YA authors are doing, and the way we could use literature to discuss social justice with teenagers.

    • I haven’t read EVERY DAY yet, Tara, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. It’s one I’ll have to keep an eye out for at the library. Oh, and THE HUNGER GAMES… So amazing.

  5. I’ve been reading since age three and writing since age four, so it’s just something I’ve always done. I mostly write about young people since I was so young myself when I began writing, so it just felt natural. I was big into 18th and 19th century historical when I was younger, and was inspired by classic children’s stories like the Little House series, Caddy Woodlawn (which I’m told hasn’t aged very well), Understood Betsy, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, the Five Little Peppers series, Addie Across the Prairie, a whole bunch of books about pioneer children, Colonial children, and just the era in general. Then, at about age thirteen, my interest switched entirely to 20th century historical.

    Over the last few years, I’ve come to realise that my way of writing about young people, so influenced by the books I read growing up, isn’t what really would pass for YA with today’s standards. I write books that just happen to be about young people, not books specifically intended as YA.

    • Carrie-Anne, I’ve read tons of adult fiction that featured teen protagonists. I imagine that’s especially common in historical fiction, considering the fact that females became brides and mothers much earlier in the past. I think it’s amazing that you’ve been a reading and a writer for so long!

  6. Twilight was also the book that told me “I can do this” (and sucked me into YA) When it comes to the book(s) that said “I want to do this”, there are too many to count. Actually, there were some even before…like Judy Blume, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie…some french authors…and now? All the books that give me all. the. feels. (including yours!)

    • Oh, I loved reading Judy Blume when I was a preteen and teen, but somehow I never considered that I might become a writer myself way back then. And I’ve read Agatha Christie — the shame!

      Thank you for your kind words about my story, friend! ❤

  7. It wasn’t a YA book for me – it was a picture book when I was a child. Avocado Baby. I knew when I read it I wanted to be an author ^_^

  8. I think I learned the basics of writing (how to plot a story, how to write dialogue, punctuation-inside-the-quotation-marks-please) from the Harry Potter series. I read them right around the time I started writing my own “stories” in third and fourth grade.

    I think someone already mentioned Sarah Dessen’s THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, but that book changed my outlook on writing. Sarah was the first author I read who wrote EXACTLY what I wanted to write. So that book was my “Aha! I really could do this!”

    And then Sir John Green did his whole LOOKING FOR ALASKA thing and ripped my heart out (that book haunts me, I’m always thinking about it), and I decided I wanted to be him when I grew up. Still working on that! 😉

    • So, I’m old and was an actual adult when HP came out. I didn’t start reading them until college, but I most definitely fell in love immediately. And I’m with you on Sarah Dessen. Her books are exactly my style: not hooky, but hinging completely on characters and their growth. Funny how hard that is to sell when you’re NOT Sarah Dessen. 🙂

  9. I’m wincing a little because I’m really going to date myself here. The first books that ever got me interested in YA were by Judy Blume, way back in elementary school. I was already writing for fun at that point because of Gordon Korman’s hilarious books. I’ll have to jump on the old Twilight band wagon and say that’s the book that made me start to get serious about actually writing YA and learn how to go through the writing process properly. I guess as much as Twilight gets a bad rap, a lot of us have Stephenie Meyer to thank for sparking our ambitions. There were a whole lot of other books that built off that initial spark for me. Too many to list though. Great question, Katy, and a super way to find motivation when writing gets tough!

    • As I told Elodie, I was a big Judy Blume fan when I was young too, but I never took the idea of writing seriously way back then. It just seemed like something grown-ups did as jobs. 🙂 TWILIGHT was my big “I can do this” awakening, and from there it was all downhill.

  10. When I first started working in book publishing, I read a few Deb Caletti books and her books made me want to write contemporary YA. I loved (and still love) her writing! I even ended up writing a paper on a few of her books during my MFA program. You’re making me want to re-read some of them. 🙂