Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that adult authors can even begin to fathom what young adults’ lives are really like. After all, weren’t all those adults all young back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth? Having just watched the Summer Olympics in London, it seemed even the youngest competitors like 15-year-old British gymnast Rebecca Tunney brought their game faces. It’s no surprise that with children earning college degrees (like Micheal Kearney did at age 10), some inspired teens would turn their talents to the world of fiction. A lot of readers may be familiar with more famous teen authors like S.E. Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders at age 18, and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, who published her first book In the Forests of the Night (2001 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) in 1999 when she was just 14. Here some more current authors who were all still in high school or college when they got their start in publishing.
- Veronica Roth’s first novel, Divergent (2013 Popular Paperbacks – Boarding Schools to Summer Camps: Leaving Home to Find Yourself), was on the shelves when she was 22 years old in 2011. Now, at 24, she has sold the film rights to her first book.
- Christopher Paolini is touted as the youngest author of a bestselling book series by Guinness World Records. Paolini is known for his Inheritance Cycle, which includes Eragon (2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults – Adventure Seekers), Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.
- At age 11, Nancy Yi Fan wrote Swordbird to deal with her emotions about September 11th. She has since written Sword Quest and Sword Mountain. Now 19, Fan attends Harvard University.
- Australian-born Jack Heath debuted his first novel, The Lab, in 2006 at the age of 20. The sequel Remote Control came out just a year later, and twelve other books for teens and adults have followed.
- Kody Keplinger was 19 when her book The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend (2011 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers) was published in 2010. In 2011 she published Shut Out.
- Jessica Khoury’s first novel, Origin, just came out September 4th. Jessica is 22 and while the bio on her website is sparse on details, you can follow her on Pinterest.
Got the drive and the inspiration to write a teen novel? Maybe you just need a good forum for your work. There is a lot of help online.
- Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you’re into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here.
- Go Teen Writers exists to provide encouragement, instruction, and community for teen writers.
- Teen Ink is a national teen magazine, book series, and website devoted entirely to teenage writing, art, photos and forums.
- Teen Writers’ Bloc is a community writers’ blog by the students in the New School Creative Writing MFA Program’s Writing for Children division, class of 2012.
I keep a list of things to do, and it’s full of adventures like para-sailing and skiing. If you have a goal of writing a book and being published, why wait for writer’s block? Start on that bestseller today. I hope there are more teen authors out there that I missed; please post below if you make a discovery or want to correct an error in my math.
— Laura C. Perenic, currently reading What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
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