Writers in YA

I’ve always had a special connection with books that include characters who love to write or enjoy reading. Part of me thinks that’s because bookish people are some of the most passionate, kind, hardworking people there are, and I want to read about those sorts of people. But really, I think the main reason is because, as a reader and a writer (what a surprise) I’m able to connect with these characters and see a piece of myself within them. As readers and writers, we’re all connected. There’s something about the love of books and the written word that ties us all together — the adoration of stories and storytelling is something we all grow up on, and the ones that keep this passion throughout adulthood have a sense of creativity and empathy that might not be as prominent in other people. So you, as a reader or a writer, are spectacular. That’s what I’m trying to say.

It’s amazing to open a book and be able to see a part of yourself on the page — whether that be represented through your cultural identity, your sexual orientation, your disabilities, your neurodiveristy, or even something seemingly as simple as your passions or interests. It’s so important that readers, especially teens and young adults, are able to see a part of themselves in what they read, because seeing people like yourself is something that shows your identity or who you are is valid. You matter, and as a reader, you deserve to see people like you in the books that you read. That’s why reading diversely and supporting #OwnVoices is so important — to show young people that they matter.

I could go on and on about my identity as a neurodivergent queer cis woman and how I see myself represented in what I read, but today I want to talk about a different part of my identity — my identity as a writer. I love reading about writers and content creators more than anything, specifically because those are the people I identify with and those are the things I want to be doing with my life: writing and creating other cool content. To me, if you hand me a book with a good writer character that I can either want to nurture or swoon over, where their writing process is realistic and relatable, there’s a 99% chance it will end up on my Favourites shelf. So today I’d like to recommend some of my favourite books with writer characters in them to you!

The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected EverythingAndie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Morgan Matson just has a way of making me fall in love with every book she writes, and The Unexpected Everything was no exception. It’s about a girl who misses out on a summer internship she was hoping to get, so she decides to work for a dog walking company. As if this book couldn’t get any cuter, there’s great friend dynamics, emojis, and an adorkable writer boy who’s struggling with writers block — what more could you ask for? The Unexpected Everything is the perfect book for summer as well, and if you’re a writer, I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to this guy’s pain in regards to fears of failure and not knowing if you’ll be able to live up to readers’ standards. It was just so cute!

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Eliza and her Monsters

31931941In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Okay, so this book is basically the writer version of Radio Silence — my favourite novel of 2017. While Radio Silence is about a podcast creator and a fan artist, Eliza and her Monsters is about a webcomic creator and a fanfic writer. It’s just phenomenal. It made me so happy to read about characters who are so similar to me in the ways that they created content, and had internet friends, and it was just delightful. It’s also unexpectedly sad and powerful, and it’s just a must-read for writers and other people who make content on the internet. So, so relatable.

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AutoboyographyThree years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

This novel is definitely one of my favourite books of 2017 — it’s about two queer writer boys and it’s sensational. There’s nothing I love more than queer representation, and when it’s paired with talk of writing, and books, and book tours, I just end up squealing into my pillow. Yes, I did that more than once. And I cried. More than once. This book was so beautiful and moving, and wow. It also talks about religion and being queer in a religious environment, and that was so raw and well-written. All in all, Autoboyoraphy is just a sensational book and it deserves to be on your TBR.

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Fangirl by Rainbow RowellCath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

If you’re a reader of YA or a writer, it’s highly improbable that you haven’t read Fangirl or it hasn’t been on your radar before, but just in case you don’t know — this book is just so, so good. It’s the first book I read with a writer as a protagonist and I loved being able to connect with the protagonist in that aspect, as well as in many other ways. The characters are real and vibrant, and I just found it impossible to not fall in love with this book. This is definitely my favourite book by Rainbow Rowell, and if you’re an introvert, someone who writes, or just someone who considers themselves to be a little awkward at times, this book is for you.

Let's Talk

Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Which YA novels do you see the most of yourself in? Do you have any other recommendations for YA books with writer characters? Let’s chat!


Graphics used in header sourced from Winged GraphicsZzorna Art and ArtCreationsDesign.



9 thoughts on “Writers in YA

  1. I agree with you it’s really heart warming to see ourselves (a part of us) represented in the books we love… I enjoy writers in books but I guess in my case the characters that have more impact are either musicians and artists (painters, designers, even tattooists) The other thing that gets me is when the character loves books in general a bonna fide bookworm….

  2. Some great recommendations here, thank you for sharing! I’ve only read Fangirl (I loved it!) and definitely agree that it was so easy to connect and relate to Cath’s character. The rest of the books are on my tbr 🙂

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