Yesterday the news broke that four prolific YA authors are going to write YA novels about some of their favorite superheroes. Leigh Bardugo is going to show us her take on Wonder Woman, while Marie Lu, Matt de la Peña and Sarah J. Maas respectively take on Batman, Superman and Catwoman.
DC is taking this foray into the money-making world of YA, but these superheroes aren’t the only ones getting the YA treatment. Not too long ago we shared the news that Scully and Mulder, The X-files dynamic duo, were also getting their own YA novels set in their high school years. Pair this with the releases of Fallout – a Lois Lane YA novel – and Black Widow – which isn’t about a teenage Natasha Romanov but a teenage Red Widow – and I feel like we might have some kind of trend on our hands.
So what is this all about? We know that superheroes sell. Marvel and DC have been making their way into our lives not just through comics, but also use blockbuster movies, games and TV shows to get us hooked. To really understand all the ins & outs of the Marvel universe, you need to read, watch and play everything they put out, otherwise you might just miss what that one small joke is about. Besides this we know that YA readers are loyal and definitely put their money where their mouth is by buying all the books. And most of the authors asked to write these YA takes are best-selling novelists, with large fandoms, several book series and adaptations on the way. Not too long ago, tie-in novels were often written by no-name ghostwriters who had to push out a novel a month, published under a pen-name. So instead of relying just on the character-names, these YA novels will have a build-in audience through the authors as well. Even if their readers don’t like superheroes, many of them will still at least try the book, just because of their love for the author’s other work. Can we then say this is just a sure-fire way for these comic-giants to make more money?
At the same time we’ve seen a popularity in writing ‘approved-fan fiction’, which of course started with 50 shades of Grey. This isn’t new, as there have been many instances of ‘fan-fiction’ in the olden days, but I feel that recently we’re seeing a resurgence of this in YA fiction. Take books written about known characters, such as Sherlock Holmes, a slew of fairy tale/folklore/myth retellings and YA Disney novels. Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Meyer even wrote their own fan fiction and those books sold like hotcakes. So maybe – more than it being about easy money – these authors are interested in bringing their own take on these famous characters to their audiences. Their own fans do this all the time, proven by the large amounts of fan fiction on Wattpad, so why can’t they nestle in fictional worlds and play out their own adventures with these existing characters just like we do? Of course, the fan fiction written by the common folk usually doesn’t get published, but maybe if we have a successful series of books under our belts, the world might just want to read our version of The Night Circus as well. These author’s get to live out a dream that many readers have and as long as these books steer clear of sexy vampires, you can count me in.
Of course the internet is divided in skeptics and believers, the first half sure that these authors will doom these heroes to a slow death while the other half is marking the release dates on their calendars with big glittery hearts. What do you think about these YA authors writing about superheroes? Do you see it as a money-thing or is it living out a childhood fantasy? I am pretty excited about all of it and can’t wait to see what author/superhero pairing will be next. Should we ask David Levithan to do a gay Spiderman or how about Kelly Link’s take on Deadpool? Leave your ideas in the comments!