Our Pages

Friday, March 4, 2011

Guest Blogger: B.A. Binns

For the Young, and Young at Heart

I have a grown daughter. I grew up during a time period now covered in history classes. I did not find everlasting love in High School. But I love Young Adult literature and I’m thrilled by this opportunity to guest with the Lady scribes and explain why I write YA romance. Not paranormal or dystopian or fantasy, the YA sub-genres that are the current rage. I find enough in the real world to keep my keyboard clicking, and I find enough in real kids to keep myself hopeful about the future.

During the high school years we look at the world and wonder how we can make things better. It’s a time when we fall under the grip of hormones; when we believe in ourselves. That’s the age group I used for my debut novel, PULL. During the research phase I learned a ton while playing amateur anthropologist. I scouted high schools and malls and concerts to study those strange creatures called teens in their natural habitats.

Young people recognize the hypocrisy that older and so-called wiser heads have learned to accept. The young don’t know they can’t fight city hall so they do. Sometimes they even win. My adult daughter never tires of hearing how I initiated a petition to have my college dorm change from their harsh-as-sandpaper (but cheap) toilet paper to something more suitable for that delicate area. She also likes hearing how I and a small group of protesters found ourselves at an empty state capital building because we hadn’t realized the legislature was not in session. We diehards looked at each other and the closed doors and had no idea what to do next. But the important thing was that we tried, and that made us feel the world was ours for the taking, enjoying, and improving.

Have you ever wished for a time machine so you could go back and do things right this time? Accept the date with the nerd instead of sitting by the phone hoping the god’s-gift-to-women hunk would call. Reveal our smarts instead of dumbing down to be popular. Tell that sadistic gym teacher exactly what she can do with her sit-ups. Befriend the new kid or tell off the bully. Pick up a YA novel and feel the feeling.

Someone said that adult romance is about finding Forever Love while YA romance is about finding First Love. I wish I could remember who, because that describes the best of YA romances. I read one and experience again the feelings I had the first time I realized that one guy was special. Not a friend or a crush but important in a way no boy had ever been before.

BTW, I don’t believe romance is a one-sided street. Teen boys may not like the word, but in spite of surging testosterone levels many come to realize they feel more than just a twitch below the belt around a certain special someone. Thus I decided to write about romance from the little-explored point of view of the teen guy.

The hero of PULL isn’t perfect, but then no real boy is. He begins by wanting only one thing from the heroine. But he ends by wanting to make her feel happy and safe, and that makes him the kind of guy I wish I’d met back in the day.

What do you think about the YA genre – first love vs. final love? And romance stories for boys, do you think that’s possible?


B. A. Binns is a Chicago Area author who finds writing an exercise in self discipline, and the perfect follow-up to her life as an adoptive parent and cancer survivor. She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), the Chicago Writers Association, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). She writes to attract and inspire both male and female readers with stories of “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.” PULL tells the story of a young man’s journey from guilt and the fear that biology forces him to repeat his father’s violence, to the realization that his future lies in his own hands.


  1. I love YA and I also love stories from the hero's POV. That he's a teenager makes it that much more interesting. Thanks for guest blogging today, B.A. You've given us plenty to think about:)

  2. What a great post! I didn't feel like a YA when I *was* a YA -- I've always felt older. LOL But I definitely like your view of younger folks, and I think romance stories for boys is a wonderful idea. They don't mind singing about love, so why can't they READ about it? :)

  3. B.A.,
    Thank you so much for being our guest today. I'm intrigued by the idea of a YA romance told from a male's pov. I agree that young men experience the same intense emotions, but they have less opportunity to explore these feelings. As the mother of a young teen boy, I see the sensitivity he doesn't show to everyone. I'm really glad you are writing a book that addresses love through the eyes of a character my son might be able to relate to better.

  4. I enjoyed writing PULL, and it's all in the packaging. I would never tell a boy that I have a boy's romance they'd like to read, the way I do girls. To the guys I call it a story of a young man with problems much like their own based on the true experiences of other boys (they really like that TRUE ides). And then I add - and there's a pretty girl there too, because they do want to have relationships and girls are a big part of their lives. BTW, after they read the book and I ask if they liked the romance between David andYolanda, they have no problem with the word and answer yes.

  5. Hi B.A.,

    I think writing from the male POV in a YA is such a unique and fabulous way to tell the story. PULL is fabulous as well! As an adult, I enjoy reading YA. It does bring back so many memories and feelings...it almost is like having a time machine.

  6. This sounds like a compelling story. High school is such a difficult and yet exciting time of life. I think it's also the time when we begin to understand that being a hero is more than just using our fists. It sounds as if you've got a great hero in your book!

  7. Thank you Myrna. Actually that's exactly what my hero has to descover, he's dealing with his mother's death after a domestic violence episode and his own fear that he has inherited his father's violence. He has to learn that he can control himself and conquer his angy side and win without resorting to violence.

    By the time I finished creating him I wished he were my son.

  8. I love your take on this, B.A. Great post.

  9. And by "this" I mean teen romance. LOL. What a brave thing to tackle it from the boy's POV, too.

  10. As the mother of a teen boy, I appreciate this unique venue. Thanks for exploring the teen hero POV.

  11. It strikes me that you are a very wise woman, B.A., as well as fearless! Your logic in choosing this genre and the hero's POV, as well as your method for reaching YA male readers,makes perfect sense to me!