Sunday, October 13, 2013

On Having Multiple Versions of a Novel

Recently, I stumbled upon what is apparently a thing right now. Publishing two different versions of a novel, often simultaneously, with different ratings. For example, one that is YA with little language, sex, or violence, and one that is geared toward adults that is more NC-17 or worse.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't seen a LOT of these, but more than one or two, and it's enough to make me wonder about it. I was thinking about my work, and if I could even imagine making a YA of my, definitely geared to adults book. The answer? A huge, resounding NO.

Even if I wanted to, which I don't, a lot of the best moments in my books are when there is something adult-y going on. No, I don't just mean sex. For example, in Devil's Dilemma, my favorite scene in the whole book involves lots of blood and gore. My second favorite scene involves a heart getting torn from a chest and thrown at another character. Neither of which would be suitable for a younger audience.

For me, if I were to take it down to PG-13 to make it suitable for teenagers, there wouldn't be a book left. If it's just taking the sex scenes out of one, then fine, no big deal, but in most adult books--especially those written in the Fantasy genre, there's a lot more that makes it "adult" than just sex. It's the age of the characters, it's the themes, the violence, the language, and yes, the sex.

Overall, I don't understand this new phenomena, and I don't think I like it too much. I'll be the first to say that it very well might work for some other authors, and I'd be very interested to read some good examples of it, but for me, I just don't see it working. I love a good YA book(Mortal Instrument, Hunger Games, etc) and I love a good adult book. They are written for very different audiences, and I happen to be young enough to still appreciate YA, and old enough to understand adult. I just think that trying to make one book suitable for both audiences by producing a PG-13 AND an NC-17 version is a little odd.

Imagine Hunger Games in NC-17. It doesn't work. Conversely, imagine your favorite romance novel in PG-13. It doesn't work.

In my humble opinion, I think authors need to write the book they want to write, be it YA or Adult, and stop trying to change it to meet the demands of very different markets JUST for the purpose of selling more books. There are plenty of authors who write BOTH, but they write DIFFERENT books. Check out Evangeline Anderson as an example of this. She writes alien erotica for adults, and a very different YA series. If she tried to turn her Brides of the Kindred series into YA, it would be a spectacular failure.

Though again, if anyone knows of an author that has managed to do this successfully, without compromising the integrity of the work, please, tell me about it in the comments. I'd love to be proven wrong.


  1. This is a very good post and greatly opinionated. I truly love a great opinion based article to see how things fold out with comments. I personally think one author has successfully done this method without compromising the integrity of the work - and he goes by Daven Anderson, author of Vampire Syndrome. :)

    In my humble opinion: Hunger Games should not be suitable for children because of the murder and rage killing of other children. I do not find it appropriate for my children. I do believe however, the good moral of working together is appropriate. ;)

  2. The basic story line of "Vampire Syndrome" was "YA-compatible", but was first conceived as an adult-reader novel. I was able to re-write the story in "true-YA" form, where it reads like it was written as a YA novel, not a butcher job.

    My sequel "Vampire Conspiracy" has become quite lurid in its adult form and its YA version will require new scenes written just for it. Yes, YA readers will get to see some events that are only implied in the adult storyline.

    "The Hunger Games" was actually sold as an "adult reader" book in Korea, most ironic when many in Japan viewed "Hunger Games" as a watered-down knockoff of that country's brutally violent 1999 novel "Battle Royale". The movie version of "Battle Royale" is "Kill Bill with teenagers", and makes the "Hunger Games" movie seem as if it takes place in Hogwarts by comparison.

  3. I've never heard of writing two versions of the same story to appeal to different age groups, but I have to agree with you that it sounds like taking commercialism beyond the bounds of common sense. I suppose everything is possible, but I believe in writing the best book I can, and almost worrying about the genre later. If you then have to adapt and re-interpret it to fit in with different communities the whole process becomes more muddling than my poor brain can handle. I will remain a one version author!