Posted On August 23, 2012 by Print This Post

Romance in YA Fiction with Tara Fuller

Tara is a fun, fresh, and original voice in YA fiction.  Many readers have fallen in love with her Emma and Finn and I wanted to find out more about why she writes book aimed for a younger audience.  I was very glad that she agreed to stop by!

Romance in YA

Why do you write young adult romance? I get the question in almost every interview I do. There are a lot of reasons I chose to work in the young adult genre, but one of the biggest reasons was the challenge. There are so many factors that go into making a great book for teens. There are equally as many worries about how to get it right. A writer is plagued with everything from writing an authentic teen voice to how far is too far when it comes to controversial issues like drinking, language and sex. Today I am going to share some of the hot button issues I have come across in writing teen romance.

#1) Voice: My main concern when I started my first young adult novel was voice. I wanted to stay true to my writing style, but I also wanted to write an authentic teen character that my readers would be able to relate to. I think anyone that faces this task can’t be afraid to look back. As painful as most of my teen years were, I made it a point to look back to that time in my life, pull out the old memories, and dive head first into all that angst all over again. When writing INBETWEEN, it worked out very well for me. The book was written from a dual POV. The boy character, Finn, is a grim reaper. He was alive in was in the 1940’s and he was a World War 2 fighter pilot. I connected with Finn more and he was easier to write than Emma, because he had a very mature voice. Emma, being a seventeen year old, modern day teen was a little harder. Also make sure to research! As ridiculous as it seems, I think it’s very important not to date your material with something like mentioning a song that teens wouldn’t be familiar with or using a slang term that’s going to stick out like sore thumb to a younger audience.

#2) Romance: This is where as authors we start to walk the tight rope in young adult literature. You want to be true to your characters. Write a real story with characters that make choices that teens would be able to relate to today. At the same time we feel responsibility and don’t want to be a bad influence. But how far it too far? Where is the line? To be honest, I think you have to draw that line. Be true to yourself as a writer and the kind of book you are trying to create. I think it is different for every book and every character. But one thing we have to be careful of is taking the lead from adult romance books. I am huge fan of paranormal and contemporary adult romance of all heat levels. But when I dive into a steamy YA scene, I have to stop and ask myself. Is this something my seventeen-year-old self would have done? The answer a lot of the times is probably not. When I was a teen I was nervous, and awkward, and had no idea what I was doing. So it’s not likely that teens today are as sensual and smooth as we make them out to be in books today.

#3) Language: Another topic that makes some readers uncomfortable is cursing in teen fiction. Again, I believe this up to every author. I believe you have crossed the line when your characters are using these words simply for shock factor and not because it’s what your character would actually say. Questions to ask yourself are: Is the language an emotionally appropriate response? Is my character consistent in the way that they are talking? But like I said, it’s up to every author how far is too far.

#4) Relationships: Teen relationships are a minefield of emotion. I know that’s how it was for me when I was a teen. My relationship with my parents was rocky. My relationships with boys were nothing short of heartbreak. In INBETWEEN, Emma is dealing with not only the loss of her father, but also learning to accept that her mother is ready to move on and date again. I think that is important not only to deal with the romantic element in a young adult novel, but also to take time with the characters other relationships with parents and friends. It opens up lots of opportunities for you to develop your character and add depth to your story. I write paranormal romance for young adults, but I always enjoy throwing in contemporary elements to my story.


Do you write YA?  Why?  What pulls you to YA as a reader?

Tomorrow, Emmie Dark, Harlequin Superromance author returns to RU!


Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky — and unending — lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn’t let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.
Tara Fuller writes novels. Some about grim reapers. Some about witches. All of course are delightfully full of teen angst and kissing. Tara grew up in a one stop light town in Oklahoma where once upon a time she stayed up with a flash light reading RL Stine novels and only dreamed of becoming a writer. She has a slight obsession with music and a shameless addiction for zombie fiction, Mystery Science Theater, and black and white mochas. Tara no longer lives in a one stop light town. Now she lives with her family in a slightly larger town in North Carolina where they have at least three stoplights.

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13 Responses to “Romance in YA Fiction with Tara Fuller”

  1. Morning Tara!

    Sounds like an awesome book! Great excerpt…=)

    I do have a YA in mind, but there’s more of a comedy edge to it. I do agree that pulling out past memories though are the way to make it more realistic….and observing the kids of today will give you great ideas as to how they walk and talk. There’s no such thing as being suave and 16! =)

    Best of luck on your book!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | August 23, 2012, 5:46 am
  2. Hi Tara,

    I read YA because I have teenagers. I recommended TWILIGHT to my daughter. I’ve started a YA. Trying not to let my kids know I’m listening to them and their friends.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | August 23, 2012, 5:51 am
  3. Thanks Carrie! Good luck on your book too. I love adding in some comedy, especially in YA. I always appreciate it when an author makes me laugh. 🙂

    Posted by Tara Fuller | August 23, 2012, 8:48 am
  4. Hi Mary Jo! I have an eighteen year old sister, so I was constantly picking her brain too. Good luck on your YA book! 🙂

    Posted by Tara Fuller | August 23, 2012, 8:49 am
  5. Hi Tara! Great post – I f you couldn’t write YA – what genre would you write?

    Any fave YA authors you can tell me about – always looking for my TBR pile.


    Posted by Robin Covington | August 23, 2012, 9:01 am
  6. All of the above is so true. I’d also add that there is so much potential to write about in YA because every little thing that happens to teens can be a HUGE deal.

    On the romance topic, I personally try to treat romance (the hand touches, the glances across the cafeteria, late night phone calls, etc…) differently than sex in YA. I’ve read some really good YA romances (even quite steamy ones) that didn’t include any sex scenes and also some great authentic sex scenes in other YA books (The Fault in Our Stars always to comes to mind in this category-it’s awkward and quick and felt so real).

    Great article and I’m really looking forward to reading Inbetween.

    Posted by Toni | August 23, 2012, 9:14 am
  7. Good luck with your book, Tara – I’m going to check it out!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | August 23, 2012, 11:48 am
  8. Hi Robin! If I wasn’t writing YA, I would write adult contemp. romance. And I am actually working on one now! So I’m going to attemp to do both, lol. As for YA books, I would check out Every Day by David Levithan. I just finished this one and it was amazing. Also anything by Maggie Stiefvater or Brenna Yovanoff is just awesome.

    Posted by Tara Fuller | August 23, 2012, 1:18 pm
  9. Thanks Toni! And I totally agree about the romance. 🙂

    Posted by Tara Fuller | August 23, 2012, 1:19 pm
  10. Thanks so much Becke! 🙂

    Posted by Tara Fuller | August 23, 2012, 1:19 pm
  11. Welcome to RU, Tara!

    I had our bedrooms painted a couple weeks ago which required consolidating boxes of books and stuff I’ve acquired but don’t really need. I found a box of YA books. I remember reading these books searching for answers, for a heroine my teen mind could relate to. It never occurred to me back then that the author wasn’t a teen girl, but someone older, who had most likely suffered through the angst and rite of passage.

    I really like the idea of your WWII pilot character matched with a seventeen-year-old girl.

    Thanks for being with us!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | August 23, 2012, 3:16 pm
  12. Thanks so muc for having me Jennifer!

    Posted by Tara Fuller | August 23, 2012, 4:36 pm


  1. […] Tara Fuller writes about the hot, hot, genre of YA romance: […]

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